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Met Office Insist Their “Record Rainfall” Claim Is Justified- But Their Own Evidence Shows This To Be Untrue

July 9, 2020

By Paul Homewood.

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The controversy over the Met Office’s “record rainfall” claim refuses to die down!

 

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One reader challenged the Met Office over this, and received this reply. His questions are in bold:

 

1. Are you saying that the record in the link you refer to (Bruton) is from a non standard site?

Yes the daily data from the contributors to early British Rainfall are not currently included in the digital Met Office climate archives from which we quote the UK extremes. The extremes quoted by the Met Office are for consistency using the historical network of official observing stations, but wider Met Office archival material including the British Rainfall publication are available in the public domain.

2. Why do you compare a site halfway up a mountain (1100 feet) to those at sea level?

We monitor climate across the range of climatic conditions of the UK. Reported extreme values reflect the extremes of UK climate but do not make any direct comparison of one location to another.

3. Do you accept data from the EA, is this not ‘non-standard’?

The EA and Met Office have a long standing collaboration for monitoring UK rainfall. EA gauges meet appropriate standards and are used for climate monitoring.

4. How long has your organisation been referring to rainfall records from this station?

The Honister Pass rain gauge has been reporting since 1970

5. Why was this duration not mentioned in your press releases?

The duration of the individual rain gauge series does not relate to the nature of the specific record being quoted.

We hope that you find these answers useful.

 

Taking each question in turn:

1) I agree there is a certain logic in just using a list of long running, high quality stations, when making claims about records, and for that matter trends. There is always some doubt about the accuracy of many old records.

However, there is a huge problem with this approach, because the Met Office now have many more such sites available nowadays, thus making “extreme rainfall and temperature” events much more likely to be spotted.

Indeed, just using “long running sites” is the opposite of what the Met office are doing, as they are more than happy to use sites with just a few years data.

Below is a map of station networks used by the Met Office for calculating climate trends and providing daily data, and the growth in the number of stations is self evident.

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The reason for this growth is simple. All of this data now needs to be in digital form, which data in recent decades already is. It is relatively easy to digitalise a few years of earlier data, as it is all kept in a similar format. It is, however, much more difficult to go back to the 19thC and have to digitalise from scratch, especially when records are kept in different places.

In addition, of course, the absence of automatic rain gauges in the past often meant that there was no reliable daily data in upland areas until recently.

 

This issue also raises serious questions about long term trends, as many of the newer stations are at high altitude, where rainfall is inevitably heavier. Although the Met Office claim they “homogenise” for this, it is highly possible that recent national rainfall figures have been skewed upwards as a result.

2) The Met Office claims:

Reported extreme values reflect the extremes of UK climate but do not make any direct comparison of one location to another.

This, of course, is an outright lie. By claiming a “new record” at a mountain site in place of a lowland site, they are doing just that. (I should point out that they still have not published what and where the previous record was).

3) The Met Office claim that Honister Pass is a “standard site”, because it uses an approved gauge. This, however, totally sidesteps the point, that half way up a mountain is NOT a standard site.

Even more disingenuously, however, their inclusion of Honister breaks their own rules, as laid out in 1). That is, they only count records using their own historical network of official observing stations.

Honister is not one of these, as confirmed by the Met Office themselves in their own list of Climate and Synoptic Stations here.

 

4) and 5) Again this is an utterly dishonest reply.

The duration of the individual rain gauge series does not relate to the nature of the specific record being quoted.

Of course it does. As they are comparing apples and oranges, all their supposed new record proves is that the Honister rainfall is the highest since, at best, 1970. Even then, we know that measurements have been spasmodic since the, so we simply don’t know whether higher daily rainfall totals have occurred in the meantime.

 

 

To sum up, the Met Office have ignored incontrovertible evidence that more rain fell in Somerset in 1917, on the basis that Bruton was not formally included in their official network of observing stations.

Yet they are keen to declare a new record at Honister, which is not only not a totally unsuitable site with just a few years of actual data, but also just happens to be not part of their official network of observing stations.

Their hypocrisy and mendacity is astonishing.

26 Comments
  1. Phillip Bratby permalink
    July 9, 2020 9:35 pm

    Well, as I posted before, we all know that the Met Office is unscientific and is not fit-for-purpose. It should be de-funded.

    • Leedschris permalink
      July 9, 2020 11:44 pm

      The reply from the Met Office is quite the most outrageous response – essentially ignoring the wealth of high quality data that lies in their paper archives. British Rainfall, as an organisation and publication, was world leading. It set the very standards of measurement, accuracy and standards of rain gauges that are used today. The organisation dates back to the 1860s. The generations of observers would be spinning in their graves to read how their observations are now being dismissed by the Met Office.

  2. dearieme permalink
    July 9, 2020 9:48 pm

    “Mendacity”: the very word.

    Met Office = Mendacious Evil Tossers Office.

  3. Keith Gugan permalink
    July 9, 2020 9:49 pm

    Unfortunately, hypocrisy and mendacity are not recognised concerns in modern science or meteorology.

  4. CheshireRed permalink
    July 9, 2020 10:47 pm

    A beautiful filleting, Paul. Do Not Stop.

  5. July 9, 2020 10:53 pm

    It’s the headlines that matter to them, not the realities.

  6. John O'Reilly-Cicconi permalink
    July 9, 2020 11:17 pm

    Paul is there any body you can make a formal complaint to?

    • July 10, 2020 1:43 pm

      I have written to my MP. I suggest you send him/her as much of the above data as possible and ask that Defra investigate the obvious duplicity and sensationalism.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    July 10, 2020 4:15 am

    What is the Met Office for?
    They make many forecasts of dubious accuracy, certainly they are no better than other commercial meteorological companies, sometimes they are worse (barbecue weather?). They cost the British taxpayer too much, and now we learn that they are not even honest custodians of past records, or correctly referring to these old historical records in their reports. Records that took many generations to accumulate.
    The ‘great reset‘ has come to British meteorology early.

    Sell them off I say! Sell them to the highest bidder and be done with them.

    • Robert Jones permalink
      July 10, 2020 9:06 am

      I was nearly interested in ‘The Great Reset’ until I saw that it hinged on ‘the UN stating that we need a decrease of 7.6% of global emissions every year until 2030 to avoid climate and ecological disaster’. Extinction Rebellion rides on!

      • tom0mason permalink
        July 10, 2020 9:31 am

        There is the greatreset.com (Great Reset is brought to you by Purpose Disruptors — purposedisruptors.org) and another one called thegreatreset.org. They look very different.

        It maybe interesting to find out who is funding all these outfits, so far I’ve not found a thing.

  8. Mark Hodgson permalink
    July 10, 2020 7:59 am

    Paul, take care and look a little deeper at question 4 and the answer given to it:

    “4. How long has your organisation been referring to rainfall records from this station?

    The Honister Pass rain gauge has been reporting since 1970”

    The answer does not answer the question, i.e. it does not say that the Met Office has been referring to rainfall records from the Honister Station since 1970, rather that it has been reporting since 1970. That is not the same thing. It’s possible that there have been higher rainfall totals at Honister since 1970 that have not been referred to by the Met Office.

    Of course, I may be looking for issues where none exist, but the answer to question 4 is phrased strangely.

    • July 10, 2020 9:52 am

      Yes, the guy who asked these questions has already gone back to them for clarification

  9. Stonyground permalink
    July 10, 2020 10:07 am

    Well I think that we have established pretty much beyond doubt that the Met office is lying. The next question that we need to ask is why? The looming climate crisis is too important an issue so we can’t go confusing people by telling them the truth, is that it? But if the only way to get people to believe something is to lie about it, doesn’t that strongly imply that this something isn’t true either?

    • C Lynch permalink
      July 10, 2020 2:54 pm

      I’ve being making that same point for years now. If man made global warming theory is “settled science” and incontrovertibly true why does it have to be propped up by a deluge of lies and deceit? Invariably experience has taught us that any theory, belief or ideology that can only be sustained by falsehood is in itself false.

  10. LeedsChris permalink
    July 10, 2020 10:08 am

    I have looked at this reply from the Met Office and as someone who has studied rainfall records (in an amateur way) for over 4 decades I think that reads like a reply where they know they have been caught, but are making excuses or being bureaucratically ambiguous!.
    The reply seems to imply they are now only using their ‘digital records’… If that is the case they are using their MIDAS database (the national digital database of all met records). The problem is that this means for the vast bulk of stations that only data since 1959 (+/- 2years) are available on that system. There are very few stations with digital records before then – i know, having made a detailed study of rainfall records for one county. This is very convenient because it enables them to say, oh, well, the data from that ‘old’ record aren’t available.
    Secondly, I note your point about the numbers of stations increasing. Interestingly, I have to question that. S. Burt’s article in Weather (2010) looked at the history of British Rainfall and noted that the number of rainfall stations across the country approached 6,000 at its peak in the 1930s, but it also showed that we are down to about 3000 now. However, as it happens, in Cumbria the number of stations now reporting into MIDAS is roughly 140 or so, compared to about 130 in the 1960s – so maybe a slight increase there.
    Thirdly, the key point – this is critical – is the type of rain gauge. Before automatic gauges were introduced in the last couple of decades, rainfall measurement was manual (except for a few, very expensive recording gauges – but these had paper charts and still needed to be emptied and attended to daily). In the upland areas a big proportion of gauges were read MONTHLY – usually on the first of each month. A quick look at British Rainfall for 1959-1960, for example, reveals that about 39 of the 127 gauges in Cumbria at that time were only read monthly. Virtually all of the high gauges and all of those away from habitation or quarries and farms were only read monthly. And also important was that even the daily gauges were only read at 0900. This means that you cannot strictly compare modern ‘records’. In the manual days up until the start of this century our daily weather records can only relate to 0900-0900 and in the hill areas we had no daily data! So it is inevitable that if we now have daily gauges (because of automatic stations) and we can now measure rainfall minute by minute, we can establish many new records. We can make a ‘day’ any 24 hours we choose.
    Fourthly, in terms of the Honister Pass gauge, MIDAS records show it has been reporting since 1970. It was published in the annual volumes of British Rainfall until its last edition in 1990. But there are two significant issues. One is it looks as though about 12 years of records are missing from MIDAS in that period since 1970 – so there are gaps in the record. And also if you look at British Rainfall in 1990 like a number of stations it did not report a wettest day of the year, just monthly and annual totals, so this implies that at least as late as 1990 it was likely a monthly gauge.. Added to this I have no information on the type of gauge used and when this become the automatic gauge that now ‘made’ this record.

    • LeedsChris permalink
      July 10, 2020 10:25 am

      My reference to the ‘Honister Pass gauge … reporting since 1970’, should in fact say ‘that location’ or ‘that station’, rather than ‘gauge’, because it will certainly be the case that different gauges and different methods of reporting will have been introduced since then.

  11. Athelstan. permalink
    July 10, 2020 10:15 am

    The met office has had its day, there is no need of a publicly funded weather forecasting bureau – none. In the modern era with satellite geopositional navigation and with shipping in mind and now we only have a miserably small RN all excuses for the UK taxpayer funding has gone out of the window. Defund this common purpose run, climate catastrophe advocacy agency and corrupt organization – now.

  12. Mad Mike permalink
    July 10, 2020 10:46 am

    Excellent work but the real question is why does the Met Office feels it needs to join the drama queens out there seeking attention. Providing an accurate data collection service should be their remit and that would be a valuable contribution that would justify it’s existence. Perhaps they are trying the sensationalist approach, so beloved by the BBC, in order to win back their lost contract with them.

  13. July 10, 2020 11:09 am

    You say their statement is astonishing. Not to those of us who have followed your well researched site for years. It is far from being astonishing. It is completely regular for the Met Office and its lies.

  14. Phil O'Sophical permalink
    July 10, 2020 1:57 pm

    BBC Countryfile was at it again this week, “wettest February followed by driest May…. must prepare.” They have given up on temperature because it is so minutely incremental that no one cares. Now it is all about extremes, because we all remember floods and droughts and gales. But by definition extremes are outliers; that’s the very reason we remember them.

    The snows of Dec 62 loom large in my schoolboy memory as do the summers of 75 and 76 for other reasons.

  15. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 10, 2020 2:29 pm

    Why do they use 10am to 10am? Is that standard? Seems odd not to use midnight to midnight or is this just pulling a 24 hour period from the record?

    The whole thing is completely contrived whatever – of course some period somewhere will set a new record for something – there’s far too many possibilities for it not to happen fairly regularly.

    • July 10, 2020 2:38 pm

      I think its 10am BST, and 9.00 am in winter, so GMT is the same time

      • Leedschris permalink
        July 10, 2020 3:40 pm

        The standard reference time for rainfall quantities falling in a day has been taken by reading the gauge at 0900 GMT, with the value being recorded against the previous day. That is to say the amount of rain registered in the gauge at 0900 on the 10th(say) is the amount that has fallen since 0900 GMT on the 9th. The total is recorded as being the total rain for the 9th. That’s the way it’s been since The British Rainfall organisation made it the standard in Victorian times. However, given that rainfall is now recorded in automatic gauges and reported remotely it is possible to calculate rainfall totals over any span of hours or minutes that one wishes. It’s just for climatology purposes the standard day 0900 to 0900 should be used.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 10, 2020 3:43 pm

        Yes, 9-9GMT normally. (The MO do mention the highest, i.e. any 24hr period, rainfall record on their extremes page.)

        https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-climate-extremes

        Do all the rainfall records on the climate extremes page adhere to their reasoning? Or will they argue extremes are not the same as records!

        The table of ‘UK rainfall records for consecutive rainfall days’ certainly seems to suggest some sort or recent and upland bias has crept in?

        Some of their extremes page content acknowledges ‘records’ (especially temperatures) that are from other ‘non-digitised’ sources!

        The temperature record notes include:

        “These records are based mainly on digitised data held by the Met Office.

        * Highest daily maximum and lowest daily minimum temperature records (including all records pre-1959) appear in Daily Temperature Extremes for Britain, J.D.C. Webb and G.T. Meaden, 2000. Weather 55, 298-315.

        Temperature records exclude stations above 500 m AMSL.”

        So to me this doesn’t all appear that consistent with the MO’s response to the disputed rainfall record?

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        July 12, 2020 8:23 am

        So when someone got into work basically!

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