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Met Office Deny Scaife’s Claim To Have Briefed Govt About Beast From The East

May 7, 2018

By Paul Homewood


Readers will recall the claim in The Times in March that the Met Office’s Adam Scaife had alerted ministers about the “Beast from the East” nearly a month before it happened:



Britain’s freezing “Beast from the East” exploded into life thousands of miles away, in the tropical waters of the western Pacific — and ministers were warned that it was coming a month ago.

Adam Scaife, head of long-range forecasting at the Met Office, briefed the Cabinet Office four weeks ago, warning of a freeze. He was confident enough to stock up his home with extra supplies.

“I got extra oil, food and logs in, knowing this was coming,” he said last week.

His warning came after his team spotted a massive storm system moving east from the Indian to the Pacific oceans. Its effects rippled out, generating weather systems from the Pacific to the Arctic, warming the stratosphere, 20 miles above the North Pole, by 50C in two days.

The result was a zone of high pressure across the Atlantic so big that the jet stream, the wind that brings warm Atlantic weather to Britain, went into reverse, blanketing the UK in Siberian winds. “We recognised the pattern because we’d seen it before,” Scaife said. “The same thing caused the freezes of February 2009 and 2013.


The Beast, of course, was the spell of exceptionally cold and snowy weather to hit pretty much the whole of Britain between around 26th Feb and 3rd March.

At the time, I was highly dubious about Scaife’s claim, because it did not tally with any forecasts from the Met Office around that time.

So I contacted the Cabinet Office to ask for a copy of Scaife’s supposed briefing. They replied that they had received no such briefing, as I reported on 29th March:




Unwilling to let go of my bone, I FOI’d the Met Office for a copy of Scaife’s briefing. Here’s what they replied:


ScreenHunter_2405 May. 07 13.53


Their account tallies with the Cabinet Office’s, that the Scaife briefing never existed. The only forecast sent by the Met Office to the government was the 3-Month Outlook, on 26th January.

But as I pointed out on 18th March, that 3-Month Outlook most certainly did not forecast the Beast, or more significantly the SSW event which caused it, as Scaife tried to claim:



3-Month Outlook

What the Outlook did forecast, as it turned out quite correctly, was the cold spell that arrived in the first week of February. This was by no means an unusually cold event, and was already being widely forecast at the end of January anyway.

It certainly was not the major event, which Scaife claims led him to stock up on “oil, food and logs”. It was merely the sort of cold snap you expect several times every winter.

And, of course, it occurred three weeks before the Beast actually arrived.

To compare the two cold events, we can look at CET:




The Beast sticks out like a sore thumb at the end of February, with daily temperatures close to record lows.

By contrast, temperatures during the cold spell in early February were within the normal range.

And, of course, if we look more closely at the 3-Month Outlook, it was the early-to mid Feb period that they forecast “an increased chance of colder than average temperatures”. This was hardly the apocalypse Scaife says he was warning about.





Still unconvinced? Then read on, because this was also what the Outlook also had to say:




In other words, the Outlook found little likelihood of the SSW. Furthermore it anticipated milder than usual conditions up to mid March. Given their forecast for colder weather in early February, this is pretty conclusive evidence that they thought late February and early March would be mild.

In short, Scaife’s claim that he forecast the Beast, and warned the government about it, is completely untrue, whether as a direct briefing, or as part of the 3-Month Outlook.

Maybe he was misreported in The Times, though the words he is quoted as saying cannot really be any clearer.

But if not, he has evidently been lying, in which case his position at the Met Office is now surely untenable.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    May 7, 2018 4:48 pm

    Have you tried asking Adam himself? It would be in his best interests to defend himself.

    • markl permalink
      May 7, 2018 4:58 pm

      +1 No reply would support the Met’s claim as well.

    • May 7, 2018 5:31 pm

      I am sure that the Met Office have already approached him. If they have not, they would have been failing their FOI duty

  2. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 7, 2018 5:18 pm

    The Met Office is an alarmist organisation through and through. The Climate Change part of their website is a disgrace. Your taxes and mine .

  3. Bloke down the pub permalink
    May 7, 2018 5:43 pm

    There will obviously be a lot made of today’s high temperatures setting a record for the early May bank holiday. As this has only been a holiday since 1978, do you have the means to establish whether the first Monday of May has been hotter prior to that date?

    • HotScot permalink
      May 7, 2018 6:14 pm

      Bloke down the pub

      “There will obviously be a lot made of today’s high temperatures setting a record for the early May bank holiday. ”

      What upsets me more than all the climate change and scientific rhetoric about global warming is, that the alarmists are trying to suck the life out of every positive climatic event there is.

      It’s sunny FFS!

      We’re all out in the garden, down at the coast, BBQ’ing, kids kicking footballs in the garden. We’re out walking, hiking, camping, you name it, but of course it’s a catastrophic climate event we’re supposed to fear.

      Dr. Malcolm Kendrick maintains one of the most effective means of reducing Chronic Heart Disease is to spend 20 minutes in the sun every day to soak up life improving vitamin D. He’s a Scot and knows something about the appalling rate of CHD in the West of Scotland where sunny days are usually accompanied by biting winds. Little chance of soaking up the rays.

      Whilst I hate reducing the discussion on climate change to a Capitalist/socialist discussion, it’s really unavoidable as too many people demand I do things the way they think I should do them.

      If, at best, the climate debate is in the balance (in my opinion it’s a crock of shit) then there is no more than a 50/50 chance either side of the debate is right.

      So roll the dice and get on with our lives.

      But don’t dare dictate to me how I’ll live my life.

    • May 7, 2018 8:01 pm

      Suppose that a hot spell occurs in early May roughly every 10 years. It would be very likely that the hottest day would fall on the holiday Monday around once every 50-100 years. This is the very worst kind of fake science.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 8, 2018 7:26 am

      May 7th is obviously the latest the Bank Holiday can fall, so the whole “Bank Holiday” thing is stupid. It’s not a fixed date, and in the forty years or so since it started, it has only fallen this late a few times.

      Even the BBC had to admit that Monday was unlikely to be as hit as the hottest day of a Bank Holiday weekend ever – a Saturday some years ago.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      May 8, 2018 2:51 pm

      The fact that May 7 is a Bank Holiday is —or should be — irrelevant to the Met Office. What does weather or climate know of Bank Holidays (though for much of my lifetime it seems that it does and not necessarily to my benefit!)?

      If it was still serious scientific organisation instead of a branch of the publc relations industry the Met Office would be telling me how May 7 this year compares with May 7 of previous years and for that we will have to wait till the end of the month for the daily CET figures. Until then the warmest May 7 remains 1976.

  4. May 7, 2018 6:33 pm

    Unless I’ve missed it. I can’t see anywhere that Scaife actually forecast The Beast from the East. The Met Office report says that the team, overseen by Scaife, forecast a spell of cold weather. Reading The Times report again, it seems to be a bit of exaggeration and conflation on their part – in short, typical disingenuous and misleading reporting. If Scaife was misreported, then, as Broadlands suggested above, he ought to come here and defend himself.

  5. DougS permalink
    May 7, 2018 6:41 pm

    A great piece of investigating/reporting Paul.

  6. May 7, 2018 6:51 pm

    Paul: I too have received a response from my MP following my letter to him about this issue. My MP attaches a response from Sam Gyimah MP, of DBEIS, within whose portfolio the matter falls. I will email you a copy when I have scanned it.

  7. May 7, 2018 7:25 pm

    Off topic but more academic nonsense goes unchallenged at the BBC:

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 8, 2018 7:28 am

      But they seem to have missed the point anyway – if tourism accounts fir more than they thought, then something else accounts for less than they thought.

  8. Up2snuff permalink
    May 7, 2018 7:31 pm

    I suspect what the Times/S.Times picked up on was the one to three-month briefing provided by the Met Office EVERY MONTH. In other words, the briefing is a rolling one. (See para 4 Cabinet Office letter and final two paras of the Met Office letter.) Scaife has a team preparing these monthly, three month outlook reports that go to Cabinet, other Govt Departments (as stated in the letters) and I suspect also the major newspapers and broadcasters.

    The team for which Adam Scaife is responsible compile a report and send it to Cabinet every month. OK, fine.

    I really don’t know what the fuss over is about here. Even the Daily Express called ‘The Best from the East’ right, about a fortnight or more out from the event, and they are famous for getting the weather completely wrong on their front page.

    I look at the BBC’s web-site weather forecast. Since some time last year it has been supplied by Meteo.

    When the Met Office supplied it (up until end-2017) it appeared to me to be amazingly reliable (90-95% accuracy over a week) but it was updated constantly and the user could track weather into the future although the graphics lacked clear differentiation between various levels and cloud and on into drizzle/light rain/rain, etc..

    Meteo have had a few hiccoughs in their first few months of work for the BBC w-s but have extended the forecast by a few extra days over the previous version from the Met Office. They have settled down now and appear to be achieving the same accuracy as the Met Office. They, too, called ‘The Beast from the East’ exactly right from thirteen days away.

    What is the beef here?

  9. May 7, 2018 7:46 pm

    I think WeatherAction predicted it long before anyway. It also predicted the subsequent pulses of hot and cold. which are likely to continue through May.

  10. Andrew permalink
    May 7, 2018 9:03 pm

    Surely the point here is somebody in a position of authority made stuff up. If this behaviour was regularly punished then the world would be a better place, wouldn’t it?

  11. NeilC permalink
    May 8, 2018 8:17 am

    Some years ago I read a half page article in the Times about a named professor in Psychology at Edinburgh university discussing seasonal affected disorder (SAD). A subject for which I have great interest and knowledge.

    After reading the article I thought I would contact the professor to have a discussion. I search Edinburgh University website and couldn’t find the professor. So I emailed the British Psychology Society and had a very interesing reply from their proesident.

    ” There is no professor x at Edinburgh”, in fact there is no professor x researching SAD or indeed Psychology anywhere”.

    I wrote to the editor of the Times copying my email back from the BPS and never got a reply.

    Since then I wouldn’t trust the Times for any information particularly scientific articles.

  12. May 8, 2018 9:27 am

    Reblogged this on Wolsten.

  13. May 9, 2018 7:51 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  14. May 9, 2018 12:00 pm

    Apparently there is a big “OOPS” in order.

    The question: will they continue to use this wizard?

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