Snowmen and Strawmen


by Robin Ruisseaux{jcomments on}

Amazing how the weather forecasts an tied up with the secret state…

The media politics of this bad weather forecast are fascinating.

This year the Met Office had to tender to become the BBC’s provider of weather reports for the first time since 1922!

The Met Office won the ‘best value for money’ contract in July 2010.

BBC: “Overall the new contract delivers better value for money.”

The Telegraph was more sceptical: “However, it was announced yesterday that the Met Office has signed a new deal, although it is understood to involve a “significant” reduction in cost, according to BBC sources.”

The Met Office have been under attack for the accuracy of their predictions for some time by other media organisations.

The Met Office provide BBC Scotland with their weather forecasts. Here is Radio Scotland’s weather forecast on the morning of 6 December from BBC iplayer.

It doesn’t exactly warn of the severity of the forthcoming weather event within a couple of hours. The Met Office also provide that info to many Scottish councils.

The Met Office were late in their prediction of the recent snow fall across central Scotland and underestimated the severity of the event.

It sounds like Afghanistan or Iraq. That is hardly surprising as the Met Office is, after all, part of the MoD. Honestly, it is:

They work for the British Army and the RAF and make money selling their services to the BBC/Councils/Government etc. Perhaps the BBC should ask Dr Liam Fox, as the minister in charge, to resign.

In Scotland the Met Office have weather stations at RAF Kinloss, RAF Leuchars, RAF Lossiemouth and Eskdalemuir Observatory, The latter probably explains why the tiny settlement of Eskdalemuir often appears of Scottish weather maps!

Eskdalemuir is jointly run by the Met Office and the British Geological Survey. The weather station there was and is used to monitor foreign nuclear tests.

That latter area of work was hived off from the British Geological Survey and privatised under Labour in 2002.

Scotland’s weather forecast system is a Cold War relic.

So here is one question for the future: Will the CON/Dem defence cuts north of the Border improve Scottish weather forecasts?

Well you can strike out 50% of the Met Office weather station coverage – RAF Kinloss and probably one other RAF weather station – in the near future. At least Eskdalemuir will keep appearing,

Perhaps in the oft-repeated words of the former defence secretary, Dr John Reid, they will soon be ‘Not fit for purpose’?

Scotland’s weather forecasts, like Defence, is a reserved matter handled by Westminster and the CON/Dem government.

Under the previous Labour government’s privatise/outsource as much as possible agenda, the BBC did consider an alternative provider for weather forecasts.

One well-respected international magazine has claimed that the BBC considered using Metra (a New Zealand weather service) instead of the MoD operated Met Office.

Metra provide the BBC with the 3D weather map graphics, which some, with considerable justification, have claimed make Scotland look smaller on BBC television weather reports.

Info on Metra can be found here:

Murky, isn’t it.