The Met Office has been warned by MPs to be more cautious, after frequent criticism for inaccurate forecasts.
According to the latest report from the Science and Technology Committee, there is a “common public perception” that the Met Office does not produce reliable seasonal forecasts.
This comes after numerous forecasting mistakes, like in 2009 when predictions of a “barbecue summer” were washed away by heavy rainfall.
The Met Office said at the time that “seasonal forecasting is still a new science… it’s something that we are still building on”. MPs have urged the forecaster to communicate carefully and make clear the level of uncertainty in its predictions.
Andrew Miller MP, chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:
“The Met Office is consistently placed in the top three centres in the world for weather prediction, but accurate forecasts are of little use if they are not communicated well and understood by the public.”
We need a little less tabloid sensationalism and a lot more information about probabilities, so that the public can understand the odds of forecasts getting it wrong.”
The committee also called for more investment in the Met Office. MPs concluded that the forecaster needs new supercomputers in order to deliver more accurate forecasts.
Andrew Miller said:
“It is of great concern to us that scientific advances in weather forecasting and the associated public benefits – particularly in regard to severe weather warnings – are being held back by insufficient computing capacity.”
The report recommends that the Met Office works with the Research Council and other partners to develop a ten year strategy for supercomputing resources in weather and climate.
The committee called on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to complete a formal business case on supercomputing in the next six months.