Skip to content

BBC Climate Check–April 2021

May 16, 2021

By Paul Homewood




It is noticeable that the BBC’s latest Climate Check is much more circumspect than unusual. There is virtually no attempt to blame bad weather on global warming. The only reference is in the section on the drought in the US South West, where they state that some researchers say it is part of a naturally occurring megadrought, which has been made worse by climate change.

The video goes on to explain that both the drought and the typhoon have been driven by La Nina, which brings dry weather to the US West and wet, stormy weather to the Western Pacific.

So, let’s look more closely at both.

So far this hydrological year, which starts in October, rainfall in the South West has been very low, but still only the sixth lowest on record:




Much more importantly though, with talk of megadroughts, are the longer term trends. The five-year precipitation trend is not as low as it was during the 1950s and early 1900s.

Indeed since the turn of the century, which is quoted in the video as the beginning of this megadrought, it has never gone that low. It is apparent that the megadrought, which lasted from 1942 to 1956 was much more severe and protracted than the current one. All of the evidence suggests that these megadroughts are regularly occurring, natural events.


Climate at a Glance | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (


Coming on to the Typhoon, Ryan Maue’s data shows that globally over the last 12 months hurricane activity has been below average:





There is of course always variability from basin to basin, but it is far too early in the year to draw any conclusions from Surigae, which hit the Philippines last month.

As is often the case, claimed wind speeds for Surigae need to be taken with a pinch of salt, estimated as they are from satellite data with the storm in mid ocean. It is claimed that Surigae hit 165 kts, or 190 mph, but this is only based on intensity estimates, based on operational warnings. Actual satellite data however suggests that wind speeds did not get much above 140 Kts:

AMSU Intensity Time Series




Although the BBC does mention the bitterly cold weather in large parts of Northern Europe in April, it is a pity they did not mention the fact that it was an unusually quiet month for tornado activity in the US. You may recall that they made a big play of one run of the mill tornado in their March Climate Check, which led to my complaint.

It looks as if they are now being more careful not to connect every bit of bad weather to climate change, something they were only too keen to do before. Maybe my complaint has had some effect!


  1. Jockdownsouth permalink
    May 16, 2021 5:44 pm

    “Maybe my complaint has had some effect!” Let’s hope so. Time will tell.

  2. markl permalink
    May 16, 2021 5:44 pm

    “…naturally occurring megadrought, which has been made worse by climate change…” So no rainfall is worse than no rainfall? Historical records far surpass what the US SouthWest is experiencing now. They just couldn’t pass up the chance to put a plug in for CC.

    • May 16, 2021 6:30 pm

      Of course, their get out is “some researchers say”!

      • Mack permalink
        May 16, 2021 8:16 pm

        It’s a shame that they don’t say, in the spirit of even handedness, that “some researchers don’t say”!

      • May 16, 2021 8:52 pm

        typo? it is a pity they did mention the fact that it was an unusually quiet month

      • May 16, 2021 9:29 pm

        Of course, thanks!

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      May 19, 2021 2:18 am

      Does anywhere suffer from drought anymore, or does it have to be classed as a mega drought to make it sound more scary?

  3. Gamecock permalink
    May 16, 2021 5:49 pm

    ‘The only reference is in the section on the drought in the US South West, where they state that some researchers say it is part of a naturally occurring megadrought, which has been made worse by climate change.’

    ‘Climate change’ being undefined. You are just supposed to know what it means.

    • Broadlands permalink
      May 16, 2021 6:10 pm

      Climate change is a substitute for global warming, both of which are supposed to be under the control of man-made CO2 (the control knob) not the Earth’s unpredictable natural variability. You are supposed to accept that as “settled science”.

  4. europeanonion permalink
    May 16, 2021 6:36 pm

    Joe Shute, writing the Weather Watch in the Saturday Telegraph, praises the volunteers that waded trough a pile of rainfall records, some 65,000 sheets of paper, he estimated. Scientists can now access rainfall records going back to 1863. No findings but just reportage, so far. Then he goes on to say, “And as both record levels of drought and rainfall become more common, due to climate change…”. So whatever the records might come to suggest, they stand a chance of being coerced into indicating AGW? I do not not see the point of the exercise if, in Shute’s opinion, the inevitable is going to result! No matter what is put before the reporting class there is only one story that they wish to portray. This wish fulfilment has infected the media and the body politic. Truth will not out, not in our lifetime, at least. Don’t these people know we’ve always had a climate? The best illustration is Holland (with a sideways glance at East Anglia. I’m more concerned that we are in and I am still thinking twice about removing winter layers of clothing. When will the cold end?

    • May 16, 2021 7:45 pm

      Sounds just like the framing documentation for the work of the IPCC 35 years ago, the kind of bankrupt anti-science that would get a 9th grader an F grade for a compromised methodology. He has already made up his mind and showing it. I only hope those going through the data do not have an equally biased mindset. It is actually more difficult not to bias data than to bias it today with the toys at our disposal. Rigorous checking is needed to be sure to avoid data contamination. Then comes the dreaded term “data homogenization”. We used to call that “fudging”.

    • Bill Hickling permalink
      May 16, 2021 7:56 pm

      Joe Shute actually gets paid, presumably, for churning out this tosh. I have written to him a couple of times to question his “climate change” bias without the courtesy of a reply.

      • Duker permalink
        May 17, 2021 12:03 am

        Bill , a formal complaint is the only way to get a reply. Even so , replies to complaints from people with a lifetime spent in wordsmithing can make black and white into a checkerboard. Hone in a specific phrase or sentence that is just opinion or when its an opinion column ( far too often nowdays) find a claim that doesnt have ‘foundation of fact’

    • terryfwall permalink
      May 16, 2021 8:23 pm

      And yet, Shute, in his final paragraph, makes a pathetic nonsense of his reference to climate change:

      “The British weather works in mysterious ways. History tells us it has always been thus.”

      He also uses the change from a dry April to a wet (so far) May to indicate extreme variability. Does the climate know what month it is? Why not take two month periods and compare those, or mid-month to mid-month? The results would no doubt reverse, but somewhere there would be statistical near-extremes that could be used to prove? Well, anything you wanted to prove in advance, really!

      • May 16, 2021 9:31 pm

        I don’t know where he gets the idea May has been particularly wet from. My guess is it will end up drier than average

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        May 17, 2021 8:55 am

        Yes far too many actual scientists let alone science journalists think human imposed and arbitrary boundaries are all known and understood by nature. Covid is the same – apparently viruses know which country or country of the UK they are in. Records in a month are absurd: often a day or so later or earlier and there would be no record. Somebody mathematical could probably demonstrate how within arbitrary time periods will regularly throw up records.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        May 17, 2021 9:48 am

        May has been wet, a lot of places have 200% of ‘average’ at near midpoint.

        But this is just weather ‘bingo’, it’s just daft analyzing the weather in segments according to a calendar.

        If the months were realigned by a week or 2, the pattern of records and ‘extraordinary’ dry/wet months changes.

        The weather in the UK has always been highly variable owing to our ‘battleground’ position. But blocking patterns are also common which can result in long periods of dry or wet depending on how they are arranged. That’s nothing new and nothing to do with supposed climate change.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        May 17, 2021 9:55 am

        Sorry, rather 100% rain, on course for 200%.

    • dennisambler permalink
      May 16, 2021 11:43 pm

      They start with a conclusion and fit the data to it.

      • martinbrumby permalink
        May 17, 2021 7:01 am

        Absolutely, Dennis.

        And not just about some quirk of today’s weather.

        Also anything vaguely “sciency” gets the same treatment. “The Science” is trotted out to support policy on everything from WuFlu to Climate, through vaccines to “hate” speech, seemingly ad infinitum.

        Policy based evidence making at its finest.

        And even the daftest pronouncements by the most obviously fraudulent perpetrators (Michael Mann, Neil Ferguson) are presented as gospel, without a blush.

        No-one (other than sceptics, no matter how well qualified) is ever held to account either for their mendacity or the consequences of their pronouncements.

  5. Tim Leeney permalink
    May 16, 2021 6:39 pm

    Interesting to see if 2022 to 2036 mirrors 1942 to 1956. Mind you, I’ll be 95 by then, but I am inclined to stay until then and watch, purely for entertainment of course.

    • bobn permalink
      May 16, 2021 8:23 pm

      More likely to mirror 1962 to 1976

  6. Wellers permalink
    May 16, 2021 8:36 pm

    Possible typo: perhaps you meant to write “it is a pity they did NOT mention the fact that it was an unusually quiet month for tornado activity in the US”?

  7. May 16, 2021 9:41 pm

    The Oroville dam flooding of 2017 was soon forgotten…

    ‘Heavy rainfall during the 2017 California floods damaged the main spillway on February 7’

  8. May 16, 2021 9:45 pm

    Did they not start out and indeed is not the remit of both the BBC and the Met office to provide analysis of BRITISH WEATHER and not World weather?

    Call me a cynic, but can it just be that by going global they increase the chance of finding something juicy to keep conning the British population with to call “unusual” or “shocking” or “unexpected” or “unprecedented” or ” A record since digital records began”. Maybe we will hear that rain during a monsoon is unusual or unexpected.

    The atmosphere is a strong brownian motion producer driven by the Big Yellow Shiny Thing in the sky. Of course it always has and always will throw out surprises.

    The BBC already recently tried to fake a story on the Victoria Falls which shows there is not enough “bad news” for their political commissariat.

    The other thing as Patrick Moore points out is that those pushing the fearmongering have a penchant for promoting things as bad which are “far away” or too inaccessible to be checked something not lost I am sure on the “impartial” BBC.

    Given the BBC’s track record for bias in their UK weather reporting, what hope do we have for suddenly unbiased reporting World wide?

  9. Ray Sanders permalink
    May 16, 2021 9:45 pm

    I genuinely feel the new senior management at the BBC is starting to have an effect. I have three children aged 28, 26 and 23. They all live independently from me in their own homes and none of them have a TV license quite legally, they just do not watch live TV.
    In a recent complaint to the BBC about a programme I pointed this out and raised the point that my wife and I felt like cancelling our license because we felt (like our children) it simply was not worth it. I got a fairly standard reply but with a tacked on rather odd paragraph saying that they were reviewing their broadcast content with regard to their potentially diminishing “paying audience”. God only knows what they meant by that but I have recently noticed a slight change in sensationalist tone to some programmes…..Harrabin aside.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 17, 2021 9:01 am

      Ironically it is the younger viewers not paying any more which means all this nonsense aimed at them becomes less and less relevant. A three part propaganda series starring St Greta gets very few viewers because those who do still pay don’t watch it. If the BBC continues to alienate more of those over 45 it will really suffer.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        May 17, 2021 9:18 am

        Already happening. Only watch Gardeners World and the wokist nonsense is infesting that too. Gorebull Warming followed by ‘what a cold spring it’s been’. They can’t even keep their lies straight.

  10. tom0mason permalink
    May 16, 2021 10:02 pm

    More tosh and nonsense designed to confuse the average viewer by insinuating that current WEATHER events are evidence of trends in the CLIMATE and its natural changes. Labeling the US South West’s very, very slight downturn in rainfall as a Megadrought (without clarification of meaning) is just stupid.
    Megadrought? I ask you what are these BBC idiots on (apart from too higher pay)?
    No doubt the very overpaid, upper-class idiots running the BBC would call this nonsense ‘educational’.

    Anti-science twaddle from the BBC again!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 17, 2021 9:03 am

      The South West is and has been for a thousand years at least, extremely dry. The periods when it is not are the exception. They have it the wrong way round. It has reverted to normal after a short period of abnormal.

  11. Malcolm Bell permalink
    May 16, 2021 10:12 pm

    Well done Paul – even the BBC will listen to a properly skilled “pest” with facts. I confess to having noticed over the last few weeks that the weather forecasts are being reserved about climate/weather warming/change.

    Thank you – it is such a relief, especially for my wife who doesn’t have to listen to my muttering about it!!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 17, 2021 9:05 am

      That will change the instant they get a bit of “unusual” weather. If this period of cooling is simply the result of La Nina we will be back with the nonsense in a month or two.

  12. Don B permalink
    May 17, 2021 1:16 am

    In 2011 NOAA held a workshop on Water, and one of the presenters was Dr. Judith Curry, Climatologist, Professor and then Chair of The School of Earth and Atmospheric Science at Georgia Tech. (She has since left academia to run her own company.)

    Curry presented the research of McCabe et al on the drought patterns of the conterminous U.S. during the last century which had been published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences in 2004.

    McCabe showed that more than 50% of the drought patterns could be explained by simply noting whether the PDO and the AMO were in the warm phase or cool phase. Curry said that the then (in 2011) patterns were the same patterns which existed from 1946-1964 when the Western and Southwestern U.S. were in extreme drought, and so she predicted that similar drought would exist in the SW US through about year 2025. She nailed it. Those ocean phases continue, and the drought continues.

    As Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. observed the following year when reviewing Curry’s presentation: “Thus the current drought and heat is not an unprecedented event but part of the variations in atmospheric-ocean circulation features that we have seen in the past. ”

  13. Andy Wilkins permalink
    May 17, 2021 2:48 pm

    Completely OT, but interesting none the less:

    There was a debate in 2007 with Crichton, Lindzen, and Stott against Elkwurzel, Schmidt, and Sommerville. The motion was titled “Global warming is not a crisis”. The debate was notable as the motion was carried, and Gavin Schmidt went off in a massive huff. Consequently, he’s refused ever since to debate sceptics.

    The motion was carried with 46% for the motion and 42% against. However, the webpage of the organistation that hosted the debate currently has the result as 89% against the motion! This is an outright fabrication that is evident in the debate transcript:

    “…you went from, 30% for the motion that global
    warming is not a crisis, from 30% to 46%. [APPLAUSE] Against
    the motion, went from 57% to 42%… [SCATTERED APPLAUSE,
    MOANS] And “undecided” went from 13% to 12%. The hardcore
    ambivalent are still among us. [LAUGHTER] So, in terms of
    opinion change, those in favor of the motion, have carried the
    day, congratulations to the team for the motion.”

    I’ve tried contacting them about it, but their “contact us” page doesn’t appear to be working (quelle surprise)

  14. May 17, 2021 7:55 pm

    It is understood that the BBC has received “…a number of communications…” with some relevant technical debate. This may have resulted in a more thoughtful approach on the subject. may provide some relevant data on the present situation.
    It can be seen that the atmosphere as a whole seems to have reached a peak around 1990 – 2000 and has been tending towards cooling since then. may be of interest.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: