Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Turned out Nippy Again, Hasn't It?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Turned out Nippy Again, Hasn't It?

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH HANN

LET us be clear on one thing: "the Met Office no longer issues long-range forecasts for the general public". It says so on their website, explaining that they have reached this strategic decision "following public research". Though I think what they actually mean is public derision, after the "barbecue summer" they cheerfully predicted for 2009 turned out to be chiefly memorable for floods.

So the press reports that appeared back in October, suggesting that the Met Office was predicting "an unusually mild and dry winter" were not their official word at all, but merely some journalists' interpretation of the probability maps churned out by their new pounds 33m supercomputer. All clear? It's a shame, really, because if the Met Office had indeed forecast a mild winter it would have been a sure signal to go out and invest in rock salt, heating oil, woollen combinations, snow shovels and sledges. Rather as a "buy" note from me, in my years as an investment analyst, could be taken as a reliable indicator that the time had come to unload the stock concerned at almost any price.

But the fact that they did not make any such prediction sadly rules them out as a scapegoat for Spanish-owned BAA's decision to spend twice as much on its chief executive's salary as it did on snow-clearing equipment for Heathrow this year.

We don't need to waste money on all that nonsense any more, do we? Haven't you heard of global warming? Similarly, the end of the Cold War provided a great excuse to scrap those strategic reserves of food and rescue equipment that had been kept topped up in the event of a nuclear holocaust. Not going to happen now, is it? Well, we may sincerely hope not. But the one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that life is uncertain. The weather constantly changes and is full of surprises. International relations and the obsessions of fanatics are similarly fluid. …

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