BBC Weather Test hits stormy weather

Monday 20th Feb 2012 by theWeather Club

Grey cloud are overhead for the BBC's Weather Test, designed to assess the accuracy of UK weather forecasters, which has come up against a wall of issues – the main one being a distinct lack of forecasters wishing to participate in the project. The Daily Mail reported problems the BBC Weather Test had been facing: already seven of the eight forecasters and bodies asked to take part have not agreed.

The BBC Weather Test, trumpeted as the first assessment of the reliability of forecasting, is the idea of BBC’s senior environment analyst, Roger Harrabin. The study would look at short range forecasts as well as assessing how accurate seasonal forecasts are. The project, supported by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, has already taken 18 months of debate and public consultation, to formulate a protocol but is already starting to unravel because of the lack of support from weather forecasters.

The Met Office has concerns about whether the project is ‘scientifically robust’. Piers Corbyn, who runs Weather Action, has concerns over the judging panel who will review the forecasts. Independent forecaster, David King, says he has ‘ducked out’ because the project became so ‘factional’. MeteoGroup, said it had not received a formal invitation and still harboured reservations about the study and how the forecasts will be verified. Joe Bastardi also says he has not been invited and his spokesman said it wouldn’t be something he wanted to be involved with.

The project, in collaboration with the Royal Meteorological Society, Royal Statistical Society and Leeds University, was hoping to launch in the spring. A BBC spokesman said: ‘This sort of research is notoriously complex, indeed we have acknowledged the difficulties involved on-air and said it might not come together, but the project remains in development and we are hoping for co-operation from forecasters.’ Watch this space.