Why competition doesn’t guarantee accurate winter weather forecasts

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Rival sets of television forecasters compete to correctly predict our weather for the following few days. This happened because three years ago, at the behest of the government, the BBC gave the contract to the lowest bidder, dumping the Met Office after 94 years. From 6 February 2018, the MeteoGroup, took over.

ITV still gets the Met Office forecast, so if viewers care to switch channels at the end of the 10 o’clock news they can get a second version of what the weather will be next day.

Over the last few weeks, when the timings of the news bulletins has jumped about, it has been easier to compare sometimes considerably different weather forecasts with what actually happened outside the kitchen window the following day.

This time of year is when forecasting is most difficult and errors more obvious since winter weather is volatile and one degree can make the difference between snow and rain or the need for gritting lorries. One day the MeteoGroup wrongly forecast disruption from snow for our patch when the Met Office predicted it would be dry – so it seemed the BBC might have made a bad decision. That was until ITV bulletins forecast frost but it turned cloudy and there was none. Sometimes forecasts agree and are both wrong.

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