The British Broadcasting Corporation has put its weather forecasting contract out to tender – the first time since its radio broadcasts began in 1923 – after taking heat from the public for a string of embarrassingly inaccurate long-range weather forecasts. The UK Met Office, the government-owned meteorological department that has had the BBC contract for almost 90 years, is a partner with the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University of Climategate fame. CRU and the UK Met Office jointly provide the climate change data that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relies on.
The BBC’s decision comes amid one of the fiercest winters in decades that has left the country unprepared for the snow-related chaos it has seen. In August, the Met Office had forecast a mild winter. Last summer, the BBC had again been embarrassed: Thanks to the forecasts it had received from the UK Met, the BBC had warned its audience of an "odds-on barbecue summer" that instead was cool and rainy. In both cases, the BBC has faced outrage from a public that had been misled by the information the BBBC had provided it.
Many blame the UK Met Office’s abysmal forecasts record on a climate change bias. The BBC’s own climate correspondent, Paul Hudson, who for a decade had been a UK Met forecaster, believes the UK Met’s problem could stem from flawed computer models
at its Hadley Centre, which provides data to the IPCC.
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BBC may dump Met office after complaints about 'BBQ summer' and 'mild winter' predictions
by David Wilkes, Daily Mail
The Met Office may be dropped by the BBC following complaints about its inaccurate weather forecasts.
The state-owned forecaster has recently been criticised for predicting it would be a 'mild' winter when we have just shivered in the biggest deep freeze for 30 years. And last year it infamously predicted a 'barbecue summer'.
The blunders could not have come at a worse time for the Met Office, which has provided forecasts for the BBC for nearly 90 years, as its contract with the broadcaster expires in April.
The contract has been put out to tender to ensure 'best value for money' and the BBC has begun talks with Metra, the national forecaster for New Zealand, as a possible alternative.
Metra already produces graphics for the BBC, including the 3D weather map that prompted a flood of complaints when it was introduced in 2005.
Weather Commerce, Metra’s UK subsidiary, has already usurped the Met Office in supplying forecasts to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.
A source close to Metra told the Sunday Times: 'The BBC is not happy with the service it has been getting from the Met Office; it thinks it’s too expensive.
'We have the ability to provide a bespoke service that will undercut it. Because we already produce the graphics we’ve got a foot in the door, so we’re optimistic.'
A Met Office spokesman said: 'We provide the BBC with a range of forecasts and data for the whole of the UK and are hoping that successful relationship is going to continue.
'We have always been in the strongest position to provide the BBC with accurate and detailed weather forecasts and warnings for the UK.'
The spokesman also defended the Met Office's record, saying seasonal forecasts, like those it made for this winter, are 'new and experimental' while its three and five-day forecasts are 'more accurate and detailed'.
Last summer, after a Daily Mail investigation found the Met Office's weathermen get the three-day forecast wrong more than one day in four, a spokesman said: 'Forecasting the weather in this country is extremely difficult - it's notoriously changeable.'
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