Christopher Booker: Met Office Is Happy To Tell It Like It Isn’t

  • Date: 22/11/15
  • Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

Bookmakers have made a fortune this year from punters silly enough to believe what the Met Office tells them.

A brave surfer takes on huge waves whipped up by storm Barney off the coast of Cornwall at Porthcurno

A brave surfer takes on huge waves whipped up by storm Barney off the coast of Cornwall at Porthcurno; Photo: Apex

On returning from a trip abroad, I found out what fun had been going on over our climate-change obsessed Met Office’s latest gimmick to get us all excited about “extreme weather events” – by giving cute little names to “Storms”.

This led gullible journalists into predicting that the first of these, “Storm Abigail”, would cause mayhem across the land. When nothing happened out of the ordinary for early November, the Met Office merely suggested that the real “Storm Abigail” would now arrive a few days later.

But according to the Beaufort Scale, wind only justifies being called a “Storm” when it blows at a sustained speed between 55mph and 63mph. When those two expert analysts Paul Homewood and Neil Catto used the Met Office’s own data to report on the Not a Lot of People Know That website what actually happened, they found the only time when “Abigails One or Two” reached storm-force was for one three-hour period on Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.

Otherwise, despite the Met Office’s further bid to hype things up by quoting extreme “gusts” rather than sustained wind speed, the best these non-storms could produce was wind between 33mph and 38mph, which, according to Beaufort, should have classified it as no more than an “Abi-Near-Gale”.

When the Met Office tried again with “Storm Barney”, threatening widespread “structural damage”, again we got no nearer than a “Strong Gale”, blowing at 52mph in South Wales. Still nothing statistically out of the ordinary for mid-November.

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But at least these ill winds blow good to someone. Coral and Ladbrokes have made a fortune this year from punters silly enough to believe what the Met Office tells them. When, for instance, the bookies offered tempting odds that we could expect the “hottest July ever”, its temperatures were in fact “below average”. The supposed “wettest ever August” ranked only 34th in a century.

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