Wednesday October 03 2012
A tourist attraction is considering suing The Met Office after it claims a string of pessimistic forecasts kept visitors away.
Rick Turner owner of the Big Sheep in Abbotsham, Devon, said poor forecasting was to blame for lower attendance at his farm attraction business.
Mr Turner is so angry he says he’ll take the agency to court unless its forecasts improve.
He said: “The Met Office seems to come up with such pessimistic forecasts predicting chances of rain when we’re enjoying sunshine.
“We’ve had a lot rain – that’s why it’s nice and green.
“But it’s important for the tourist industry that when we do have sunshine we need to be shouting about it rather than saying there might be some chance of rain.
“The Met Office forecasters need to realise that everything they say has an impact on whether people go on holiday or go for a day out.”
The Met Office insists that forecasters have no reason to dampen spirits and are simply doing their best with the data available.
But the weather service admitted ‘No weather forecaster is going to get it 100 per cent right all the time.’
“We have to tell the weather as it is that’s what our job is. This summer has been thoroughly disappointing,” said forecaster Dave Britton.
“It’ll be hard to find someone who hasn’t found that. It’s been the wettest summer in 100 years.
“The UK is lucky enough to have one of the best weather forecasting services in the world – we should recognise that.
“We have to remember Devon is the third or fourth wettest county in England. The Met Office can’t stop it raining. We get it right 87 or 88 per cent of the time which is absolutely phenomenal.”
Malcolm Bell a tourism expert in the south west said forecasts needed to be more balanced: “The challenge is that in the forecasts the Met office says there could be showers here or there when in fact it could be dry for 90 per cent of the time.
“People just hear the word rain and that puts them off going somewhere for the day.
“There’s a difference between that goes on for two or three hours and rain that lasts ten minutes in a shower and then passes through.
“I know it’s an incredibly difficult task for the Met Office but I always advise people to look at the websites – you have to get quite local to get more accurate.”
In June Claire Jeavons, who runs the Beverley Park holiday site in Paignton, Devon, said “alarmist” forecasts which often proved groundless were having a major impact on bookings across the West Country.
Claire Jeavons, who runs the Beverley Park holiday site in Paignton, Devon, said “alarmist” forecasts which often proved groundless were having a major impact on bookings across the West Country.
“It is already causing holiday-makers to stay away,” she said. “Just a few days ago we were hearing that all caravan parks in the West Country were on flood alert, and this simply wasn’t the case.”
Tony Clish, director of Park Holidays UK which owns 700 caravans in Suffolk, said he believes weather forecasters are afraid of being caught out after recent predictions of a “barbecue summer” were proved to be inaccurate.
He said: “Coastal holiday parks in Suffolk often stay dry when it is raining inland, yet forecasters frequently tarnish the whole county with a single wet-weather symbol.
“We’re not asking them to bend the truth, but just to be more careful with phrasing. For example, they could say that while inland areas may have showers, coastal areas are expected to be dry.”