Met Office abandons long-term forecasts

First it promised a "barbecue summer" that brought little but rain. Then came the "mild winter" which turned out to be one of the coldest in 31 years. Now the Met Office is simply scrapping its long-term seasonal forecasts.

In what will widely be seen as an embarrassing climbdown, the Devon-based weather centre insisted the move came in response to public polling. "Our research suggests the public aren't interested in seasonal forecasts but they do want monthly forecasts," a spokeswoman insisted. The hotel owners and UK businesses that were left bruised by the lack of promised sunshine last summer may not accept this line as easily.

September's disastrous winter prediction – in which the Met Office claimed that there was a one in seven chance of a cold December to February – will be its final seasonal forecast.

It will be replaced from April with a monthly outlook that will be updated on a weekly basis. The Met Office insisted that the UK was a "temperate climate" which made it "very hard to forecast much beyond a week". It promised to continue working on long-range forecasting, which, rather than being intended for public consumption, is usually provided to help businesses plan ahead.

Last month it emerged that the Met Office may be dropped by the BBC after nearly 90 years following complaints about its forecasts. The Met Office's contract comes up for renewal in April.

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