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Dumbing Down At The Telegraph

January 9, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




The process of dumbing down continues at the Telegraph!

For some reason, Philip Eden has been dropped from the Sunday Telegraph for the last few weeks, and been replaced with someone called Peter Stanford, who seems to have little in the way of qualifications for the job of reporting the weather.

So, instead of getting serious reporting of events and their context in the longer history of climate, we end up with a load of lightweight, inaccurate drivel.

If we take his latest piece last Sunday, we get claims that Storm Frank was somehow stronger than the 1987 Hurricane (which was not one anyway). I really don’t know where he gets his “120 mph winds” from, but the highest recorded, according to Accuweather, was 85 mph on the Hebridean island of South Uist, something that is not uncommon in those exposed parts.


It is ironic that they chose a picture of some waves at Porthcawl, on the South Wales coast to illustrate the “fearsome” storm. Just along the coast at Bristol, the local rag warned:  





Yes – 26mph!


Frank certainly brought an awful lot of rain, but to put it into the same category as the 1987 Storm is simply ludicrous. Even the Met Office could not be bothered to publish wind speed data on their blog, as they had done with Abigail and the rest.


Then we get the insinuation that these storms have something to do with global warming, for which there is not a shred of evidence. Indeed, winter storms such as these should be happening less frequently in a warming world, as temperature differentials between the Arctic and lower latitudes reduce, something Philip Eden might have told them.



As we know, the wettest December in England & Wales was in 1876. We have no Met Office reports for that month, but we do for December 1914, which ranks second:





Amongst the gales mentioned, top wind speeds of 91mph, 78mph and 81mph were recorded on the 4th, 12th and 28th. There is no mention of anything from the Hebrides, which suggests they were not recorded there.

The three storms last month, Desmond, Eva and Frank, were certainly no worse than those in 1914.


It turns out that December 1915 was little better, being the fourth wettest December on record.





Perhaps the most telling comment was this:




Force 8 is categorised as a “Gale” on the Beaufort Scale, with sustained winds of 40 to 46mph. We may recall that “Storm” Barney never got above Force 8. The idea that we could have twenty days of Storm Barneys and worse would send our dopey reporters into apoplexy!

Heaven knows what Julia would make of it, particularly after the cold, dry month that preceded it.


One more comment stands out:




A “Whole Gale”, also known as a “Strong Gale” has sustained winds of 47 to 54mph, and must have been some storm to last for 51 hours.



Perhaps Peter Stanford needs a history lesson?

  1. January 9, 2016 6:05 pm

    I too had worried about Philip Eden vanishing and the second rate articles following this disappearance. I worried about Booker vanishing a few weeks ago, but he was on holiday; hopefully Philip Eden is too, and common sense will return soon.

    • Keith BC permalink
      January 31, 2016 12:39 pm

      It gets worse when today he states that a recent report suggests that European summers have got hotter in the last three decades by 1.3C (34F) !! Would it not occur to him that no change in Centigrade would produce a change of 32 in F under his system which treats differences the same as actual temperatures?

  2. Joe Public permalink
    January 9, 2016 6:15 pm

    I’m fearing Storm Julia, but it might, as usual, turn into a damp squib.

  3. January 9, 2016 6:38 pm

    Thanks for the crazy news, Paul.
    A history lesson might be sobering, but it looks like psychiatric help should follow.
    This ignoramus thinks he is paid to alarm the public, and that is what he tries to do.

  4. January 9, 2016 6:46 pm

    Is this an unexpected consequence of adoption of the Precautionary Principle? That or a follower of the Principle, technical evaluation and risk assessment is irrelevant as long as there is some extreme end worthy of fear?

    The Granny State operates on the idea that the possibility of threat is sufficient for action. Possibility, not probability, is the driver; action is designed to remove the possibility of threat, to achieve a zero-possibility threat situation. Put CCTV cameras on every street corner and watch everyone all the time so that nothing untoward – not hardly anything but nothing – can – not might – happen. The response to something happening is the realization there still exists a possibility that something worse may happen, which leads to further surveillance and control.

    The media and celebrities like DiCaprio do not need, in this view, knowledge about likelihood or comparative costs and benefits. The presence of a high-end tail, fat or thin, is sufficient to be afraid enough to raise the alarm. The rest is just details.

    The Precautionary Principle should apply to itself. If it did, it’s impact would be muted, for there is clearly an extreme tail in which the precautions taken now have a larger, negative effect than would have occurred without them. This introspection has not only been lost, but I have never seen it discussed, even by someone like Judith Curry, who is focused on uncertainty issues.

    The whole world has become weirder and weirder. Fact,fantasy, sense and nonsense have become conflated within a liberal paradigm of philosophical, social relativism. The experienced life is all there is, and cannot be reduced to the precepts of objective realism. If you think it so, for you it IS so, and others must act, as nothing is except how it is perceived for practical purposes.

  5. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 9, 2016 7:44 pm

    Why is it that we in the Colonies (term used loosely as I am in Washington State) take heat for not going metric and then I see things from England stated in miles per hour?

    Anyway, we know making conversions from C. to F. and m. to feet, and so on, can lead to spectacular issues, such as rockets being lost. So I note that 75 miles per hour is rather close to 120 km per hour. Your new expert, Peter Stanford, might be a “writer” by training – having found science and math hard. Note the column is more about the ABCs than it is about weather or Climate Science™.
    So, he has mixed up multiple things. Go easy on him. If he sticks with it he may get better. Okay, maybe not.

    {The “26 mph” is hilarious. That is under the wind speed for a turbine to reach its peak output – about 31 mph for those near me. Emma Flanagan may not be the brightest sort either.}

  6. Graeme No.3 permalink
    January 9, 2016 7:58 pm

    The solution to the rapid turnover of storm names can be solved by adding a second name which in combination will raise the choices exponentially. Indeed adding a third name for a code based on severity, say names of felines in order of size e.g. cat, lynx, lion etc. would make things easier for future meteorologists.
    They would then know at a glance how to compare Timeon Slingo Cheetah with Abigail Slocombe Pussy.

  7. Terry permalink
    January 9, 2016 9:18 pm

    i recently wrote to the editor of the Telegraph a private letter asking him why our Paris Climate Challenge conference was not reported in the Telegraph. He did not reply!. Paris Climate challenge Terri Jackson http;//

  8. January 9, 2016 9:26 pm

    I remember 1953.
    On the night of the storm (real) the wind sounded like it would rip every roof off and collapse every tree.
    It was not a good night on January 31st.

  9. David Richardson permalink
    January 9, 2016 10:40 pm

    Any truth in the rumour that M will be for Moron?

  10. January 9, 2016 11:13 pm

    The Weather Channel in the U.S. also names some winter storms. We had a big winter storm come through a little over a week ago that was named Winter Storm Goliath. I’m wondering if Goliath is the same storm front that reached England as Winter Storm Frank?

    I was wondering what the criteria is for giving a storm a name? Our local weather reporters never name the storms that come through here.


    • dearieme permalink
      January 10, 2016 12:55 pm

      “I’m wondering if Goliath is the same storm front that reached England as Winter Storm Frank?’ What a pity it wasn’t David.

  11. John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia. permalink
    January 10, 2016 3:11 am

    Is he the same Peter Stanford who writes about religion (“Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald”)? If he is, then he has simply jumped from one religion to another. Maybe the regular weather expert is still on holidays and is having a nice chuckle somewhere in the West Indies.

  12. Ben Vorlich permalink
    January 10, 2016 8:07 am

    I have a semi-serious bet with one of my sons that we’ll have reached Storm Zebedee before June.

  13. Ben Vorlich permalink
    January 10, 2016 8:11 am

    If we take his latest piece last Sunday, we get claims that Storm Frank was somehow stronger than the 1987 Hurricane (which was not one anyway). I really don’t know where he gets his “120 mph winds” from, but the highest recorded, according to Accuweather, was 85 mph on the Hebridean island of South Uist, something that is not uncommon in those exposed parts.

    The locals agree with your assessment:

  14. Vernon E permalink
    January 10, 2016 10:59 am

    Dumming down is hardly the word for it, add illiteracy. Reading the headlines and the texts is like marking the grammar and composition of a very poorly performing GCSE pupil.

  15. Green Sand permalink
    January 10, 2016 11:15 am

    Wait till you see today’s missive from Peter Standford!

    Starts with the headline:- ‘Brace yourselves for a repeat of the Big Freeze of ’63’

    and ends with Myles Allen’s “Normal weather, unchanged over generations, is a thing of the past”

    This man is a gift, a pure genius!

  16. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    January 10, 2016 11:33 am

    When I worked in S. Arabia in the 80’s the D. Telegraph had been redacted/censored with a thick black marker pen..every copy. It had at most 4 pages remaining. That was when the paper was good and similar the BBC World Service.

    I only skim it on-line these days and the best part is as always the Obits.

  17. January 10, 2016 12:00 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  18. Rowland Pantling permalink
    January 10, 2016 12:14 pm

    Perhaps Mr Stanford has got his units muddled up. 125kph might make more sense!

  19. January 10, 2016 12:31 pm

    This morning we have a “wind advisory” from 10:00 am to 8 pm EST–“winds west 15-25 MPH with gusts up to 50 MPH”. Can one of you alert The Telegraph?

    • January 10, 2016 1:15 pm

      BTW, I live in northern West Virginia (Morgantown) just below the Mason-Dixon Line. This is nothing unusual for us. But The Telegraph may not be too choosey in reporting “violent weather.” They will just “forget” to mention the location.

  20. January 10, 2016 12:42 pm

    ‘Yes – 26mph!’

    To quote Private Eye: ‘shome mishtake shurely?’
    That’s a fine day in many parts of Britain.

  21. NeilC permalink
    January 10, 2016 2:01 pm

    Living just south of Bristol, I was so worried with this headline of doom, I did………..absolutely nothing….. and survived /sarc

    The highest sustained hourly wind speed at Bristol Airport (on a hill) was 35mph, but that was at 0800 UTC on the 30th before she published. From 1100 UTC on the 30th the max sustained wind speed never exceeded 26mph until 0900 UTC on the 7th Jan at 28mph.

    What infant school did Emma just graduate from?

    • saveenergy permalink
      January 11, 2016 12:42 am

      “What infant school did Emma just graduate from?”

      She’s still there ….it was a cut & paste project in art class

  22. January 10, 2016 2:33 pm

    Friends live in Rye, TX outside Houston. Here is what they had at Christmas time: Friday 73 sunny; Saturday 81 tornados; Sunday 52 flooding; Monday 31 snow. There was a monster tornado NE of Dallas on Dec. 26 and 10′ snowdrifts at Friona, TX on Dec. 27. Anyone at The Telegraph want to comment on weather?

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