The Met Office admitted yesterday that it got it wrong over a seasonal forecast it issued last September predicting that the coming winter would be milder than average and drier than the same period last year.
It was only the fourth time that the Met Office had gone public with its winter forecasts and, although the previous three predictions were fairly accurate, the latest was a hopeless failure.
"Obviously this one was wide of the mark in its initial state, but as the forecast has gone on it's moved into a colder outlook. In general, seasonal forecasts are only going to be right two times out of three," a spokesman for the Met Office said.
Seasonal forecasts attempt to predict what the weather is likely to bring in terms of temperatures and precipitation over a three-month period. They are inherently less reliable than the short and medium-range weather forecasts that cover two to three days and three to 15 days respectively.
A statement on the winter forecast issued on 25 September said: "The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year." The news was warmly greeted by Help the Aged because the prospect of a cold winter causes significant anxiety for the elderly.
By the end of November, the Met Office was warning of colder weather to come, but still predicted a winter of overall warmer-than-average temperatures.
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