Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dear Forecasters, Cheer Up or We’ll Sue

The British Met Office’s forecasts for rain are apparently keeping visitors away from a tourist attraction. The owners are threatening to sue unless the forecasts get sunnier.

It is hard to tell from the article what exactly the problem is. It may be that there’s too large of an area lumped together, that it’s wet in one place but the whole region is painted with a rainy forecast. There could also be a time issue, e.g. it rains 10 minutes, but is sunny the rest of the day. There also could be a fundamental forecast skill issue, e.g. when they say 80% chance of rain today, it only rains on 20% of days.

 The Independent gives some quotes from local users:

“The Met Office seems to come up with such pessimistic forecasts predicting chances of rain when we're enjoying sunshine. We've had a lot rain - that's why it's nice and green. But it's important for the tourist industry that when we do have sunshine we need to be shouting about it rather than saying there might be some chance of rain. The Met Office forecasters need to realise that everything they say has an impact on whether people go on holiday or go for a day out."…

"People just hear the word rain and that puts them off going somewhere for the day. There's a difference between that goes on for two or three hours and rain that lasts ten minutes in a shower and then passes through."

"It is already causing holiday-makers to stay away,” she said. “Just a few days ago we were hearing that all caravan parks in the West Country were on flood alert, and this simply wasn't the case.”

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