Weather forecasts – A farming preoccupation
The BBC announced last Year that it was ceasing the current £32 million a Year contract that it had held with the Met office since 1922.
Weather forecasts strongly influence decisions on the farm such as planting, harvesting, spraying in anticipation of diseases, ventilation, heating, any ground working and many other day to day tasks.
Local folklore indicates that if jackdaws circle the Weobley church spire or the cows are lying down then rain is imminent and large number of holly berries warn of a cold winter.
The Met office has invested in a £97 million super computer for weather forecasting but you can find a much cheaper online option from the Lake District.
In anticipation of the loss of the BBC contract, the Met office PR machine went into overdrive and published “The Latest Public Weather Service Value for Money Review – March 2015”. The results are summarised below.
They clearly do not value the weather effects upon food production. You really don’t know how many times I have screamed at the TV when the weather presenter has sympathised with gardeners about a late frost whilst my 75000 trees are in full blossom and there is a risk we will lose the whole of that Year’s crop or a little rain may curtail somebodies barbeque whilst my crops lie rotting in the fields or orchards.
But there are further indirect effects, with poor weather generally reducing demand for our goods. After all, a pint of cold cider is far more synonymous with a hot summer’s day!
Unfortunately, in my view, interpreting the weather forecast is becoming more difficult with competing suppliers issuing contradictory information. Technology does not always improve things, with fancy graphics dumbing down the main TV forecasts, giving only a general view as opposed to the synoptic charts that allowed us to decipher for ourselves, the effects upon our local area.
Last Autumn however things got a whole lot worse in the commercial world of weather forecasting.
The Met Office and Met Éireann, the Irish Met Service are running a pilot project to name wind storms. Their press release states:-
“The naming of storms using a single authoritative system should aid the communication of approaching severe weather through media partners and other government agencies. In this way the public will be better placed to keep themselves, their property and businesses safe”.
It is already proven in the USA that the general public regarding impending female storms less seriously than male storms!
This is a obvious move to BRAND the weather and blatantly commercialise what should remain as public service information. A distorted perspective on weather forecasting could have a massive negative impact upon the UK economy. Overstating the forecast can drastically impede activity in the general public.
I notice that storm Steve is on the shortlist of upcoming weather events. Isn’t it a bit odd that they have nominated and abbreviated name and a “Stephen”, I assume that my name is to be reserved for a full hurricane.
Whatever next, will they be looking to simulate the DVLA model of personalised number plates and making a quick buck selling the naming rights ? How about “the hunter welly storm Pandora” or “Super Dry storm Edmund / Hillary”?