Summer Weather Forecasting on Trial at Top Science Blog
Top American science blog challenges maverick British forecaster to beat the best of the rest in a July shootout. Piers Corbyn of Weather Action takes the test in a month he predicts will be “terrible” and “full of extremes.”
The WeatherAction front man is boldly predicting that July 2012 will show, “Ongoing extremes and major contrasts across USA and Europe and associated large amplitude swings in the Jet Stream are aspects of pre-Little Ice Age weather patterns as the world descends towards a new Little Ice Age of a colder climate caused by low solar activity especially around 2020-45.”
Carnival Barker Makes Fantastic Claims
Anyone and everyone may use Corbyn’s predictions and partake in the test after WUWT’s Anthony Watts threw down the gauntlet after labeling Corbyn a “carnival barker” who makes “fantastic claims.” But even cynic Anthony Watts appears to concede that if Corbyn wasn’t any good he wouldn’t still be in business. [1.]
Piers is very much a betting man as evidenced when Britain’s biggest bookmakers, Ladbrokes, banned him after he cleaned up with a slew of correct forecasting bets. The avuncular Londoner proclaims, “WeatherAction forecasts are about getting the best long range picture for useful decision making and they work and win on scientific bets. Farmers use them to see around when is there a chance of dry time for harvest/rain, etc.”
Anthony Watts of WUWT remains skeptical and wants reader feedback during the month to help validate (or disprove) Corbyn’s claims of an 80 percent success rate. But WeatherAction (WA) does issue one caveat: “Please note these are not forward projection by any computing system and one weather period can go wrong then the next one revert to being right.”
Corbyn is clear that all WA users have their own measures of usefulness. The greatest value, he says, is seen among USA farmers, environmental activity workers, emergency services people where “Often detail does not matter but the
sort of weather in a general region / time window is enough to help plan.”
When asked to authenticate his past successes Corbyn points to AccuWeather’s end of year list of extreme events for 2011 that all turned out to have been forecast by WeatherAction. “Of the 6 public 3month ahead specific extremes around world issued Oct 2011 the success was 5/5 and one ‘non-runner,’” beams Corbyn.
There is no doubt that WeatherAction is unique in that it devises forecasts by connecting solar and lunar activities with the propagation of simultaneous weather events globally. “Our forecasts are solar-based and we can track predicted events on the sun to Earth’s weather. These events are nothing to do with CO2 changes which have no effect on weather or climate,” said Piers.
Met Office Ran from Similar Forecasting Face-off
Last year the BBC’s Roger Harrabin asked the UK Meteorological Office (MO), a government agency with a whopping £170 million per year taxpayer dole, to battle it out with Corbyn and other big hitters in a head-to-head making daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal forecasts. But as Harrabin conceded, “ Piers Corbyn is the only person to have volunteered so far to be tested in all these categories.”
While the MO is quite successful with it’s five-day forecasts it’s attempts at seasonal predictions are awful because they appear to be compelled to use the junk science (carbon dioxide-biased) computer models of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.
Recalling March 2012 WeatherAction’s CO2-free forecasting correctly foresaw the Jet stream moving south and blocking – a phenomenon Corbyn believes indicates a possible ice age trend. Britain got more cold winds from the East and much higher than average rain – much against the usual UK pattern. By contrast, the UK met office predicted a drier than usual period and backed the hosepipe ban, of which Corbyn’s “Wettest Drought” forecast made a mockery.
Admitting Errors When They Occur
Corbyn predicted the month of May 2012 (with high probability) could be among the coldest five UK Mays in a century. If the month were only 21 days long he would have been spot on. A final very warm week allowed a nervous MO to call the month “average.”
But the Met Office’s preference for the non-committal “higher than” or “lower then” average temperature, “drier” or “wetter” then average approach is all of so little use to Corbyn’s main customers – the farming industry. Here there is a strong need for much more specific notice of extreme weather events. So as to demonstrate that the MO forecasts are as vague as the quatrains of Nostradamus here is what they currently offer:
“The probability that UK precipitation for July/August/September will fall into the driest of our five categories is around 20% whilst the probability that it will fall into the wettest of our five categories is also around 20% (the 1971-2000 climatological probability for each of these categories is 20%).”
While in late June the BBC, without any shame, touted a revised MO graphic that was almost an exact copy of Corbyn’s graphic produced a month earlier now also claiming the jet stream had moved south.
The recent furor with Britain’s “Wettest Drought” proved Corbyn has visceral hatred of the increasingly politicized UK’s Met Office and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that, he claims, operate a modeling scam biased towards an imaginary carbon dioxide (CO2) effect. But indications are that principled MO meteorologists are fighting back against the bullheaded modelers. But they have yet to gain permission to bring Piers into their fold – and only then will Corbyn offer access to his mercurial techniques.
In the meantime, with government forecasters turning fence sitting into an art form the bold Piers is man enough to admit when and why he goes wrong. For the last ten days of May he conceded he hadn’t anticipated a huge sunspot that went off apparently pushing the jet stream temporarily further north. But like any good forecaster, Corbyn updates his prognosis when events start deviating from his forecasts.
Scientific Method based on Long-term Observations
WeatherAction’s proprietary (and thus secret) method incorporates solar/lunar data. As such, Corbyn’s latest predictions are based on the low magnetic field of the sun making weather similar to the early years of the Little Ice Age.
Piers summarised, “The underlying point is extreme weather is here now and continuing – as we predicted. It is a sign of a new Little Ice Age.” Corbyn dismissed claims that he always makes over the top statements. “Sometimes our long range forecasts are overstated and sometimes understated,” he said. As Anthony Watts declared: “Since Corbyn is a fellow climate skeptic, let’s give him a fair but factual evaluation to find out if these claims hold up. “
So go to Twitter to see Piers Corbyn’s latest messages with up-to-the-minute information on the latest in weather and climate issues. “Compare us with whatever anyone else said that time ahead,” proclaims Corbyn.
[1.] Watts, A.W., ‘Putting Piers Corbyn to the test,’ (wuwt.com: accessed online: July 10, 2012)