• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Weather Forecasts (1 Viewer)

TheSeagull

Well-known member
Birding requires you to keep an eye on the weather, will that rare be blown over the Atlantic? Will the light be sufficient? But do you pay attention to the weather forecast? Right now I'm debating whether or not to set my alarm for what is forecast to be a rainy morning. Have you ever listened to a forecast that was really really wrong?
 

Floyd Barnes

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Yes frequently. When they forecast a heatwave it's only warm. When they say it's gonna' chuck it down late morning. It rains at night.
My advice is to just go for it. (although it is a bit off-putting when you hear a bad forecast) But it's that showery at the moment it'll soon pass anyway.
 

Ken Hall

Well-known member
Birding requires you to keep an eye on the weather, will that rare be blown over the Atlantic? Will the light be sufficient? But do you pay attention to the weather forecast? Right now I'm debating whether or not to set my alarm for what is forecast to be a rainy morning. Have you ever listened to a forecast that was really really wrong?

Weather forecasting is not easy, even for the experts. The further ahead, the less reliable they are. 24 hours ahead, they are generally excellent, 48 hours reasonably so, any further and I wouldn't count on them.

Met Office ones seem to be the most reliable, but beware of potted versions given out on some radio stations: they are far too generalised to be of much use. Always try to get a forecast that is specific to the area you are interested in.

Here is the forecast for tomorrow: click on Grampian area http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/uk_forecast_weather.html
 

deansmith

Well-known member
i agree with ken anything over 24 hours and its really just a guess, also the met office website seems to be the best forecasts.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Given the amount of money thrown at it you kind of expect the Met Office to be the best in Britain at least. Its true though: a 24 hour forecast will be pretty much right most of the time, but there are factors that induce a degree of wrongness.

Some of these are:

The forecast is based on a model which of necessity takes current data and applies an average of past experience to it. The model is only as good as the past data and how it is put in (which includes how much weight is given to new trends as opposed to the long-term data). Of late the programmers have been inclined to give weight to more extreme weather especially wind and rain. Particularly at times when weather instability is normal, this tends to over-forecast extreme events. It can still miss stuff: I don't think the Met Office or anyone else thought the dreadful weather front the other week would sit still instead of blowing straight through.

Actual forecasters can change the forecast to be issued based on their experience and opinion. However, a very natural inclination not to be blamed a la Michael Fish leaves most of them preferring to use the computer forecast and allow the machine to take the blame if it is wrong.

A difference of a couple of hours in even a 24 hour forecast will leave forecasters saying they got the weather right for the day, whereas it may leave your dawn watch completely trashed.

The best thing to do is watch the most detailed forecast you can get and take it into account while still using your own judgement.

John
 

Marmot

Well-known member
I find that xcweather and metcheck are more accurate than the met office when it comes to the forecasts especially when its windy.

A few weeks ago when we were going for a few days stay over at Leighton Moss we also used uk.weather.com which were spot on.
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
I find that xcweather and metcheck are more accurate than the met office when it comes to the forecasts especially when its windy.

I agree with this completely. I need to keep a close eye on the weather for certain aspects of my work and over the years I've come to realise that for wind these are the most accurate.

With regards to weather forecasting for birding, I find that sites that give a bigger pictute are very useful. ECMWF do very good mid range pressure charts that cover Europe and beyond, and Magic Seaweed do excellent windmaps that show how fronts move/develop over time.

Mark
 

Stoggler

Getting to grips with young gulls
However, a very natural inclination not to be blamed a la Michael Fish...

Poor old Michael Fish! He actually got fed up with this a couple of years ago and spoke out, stating that he wasn't the forecaster that evening, and that the reference usually played on TV clips is of him saying that someone phoned in today saying a hurricane was coming and him saying that that was not the case. That's when the clips usually stop. So in the public consciousness, we have this image of Michael Fish poo-pooing the idea of a big storm.

However, if they continue the clips after that point, you have Michael Fish saying "however, it will be very windy" (not verbatim!) and going on to warn of very strong winds for that evening/night.

If I remember, it was John Kettley doing the evening forecast. Both Fish and Kettley (and the Met Office) underestimated the strength of the winds, but then that was because the low intensified unexpectedly quite late on.

Being a meteorologist is a thankless task really - you get complained to if you miss something or are slightly wrong, and get no thanks when you're spot on. But trying to accurately predict the future of an exceptionally complex 3D system is far from easy, and many members of the public do not quite grasp just how complex the earth's atmospheric systems are.
 

Ken Hall

Well-known member
I find that xcweather and metcheck are more accurate than the met office when it comes to the forecasts especially when its windy.

A few weeks ago when we were going for a few days stay over at Leighton Moss we also used uk.weather.com which were spot on.

I agree that Metcheck provides useful forecasts, and I use them a lot. But, on 21 November I posted on the Wild in Aberdeen thread that they were forecasting northerlies for Aberdeen on the coming weekend. Then next day they had completely changed the scenario to southerlies. In the event, the northerlies did happen. As others have said, forecasting more than a couple of days ahead is very difficult.
 

G Anderson

Registered User
I like to stare at the isobar chart on the Met Office site and attempt my own forecast, but usually I check BBC or AccuWeather. You can put your own locale in and the 15 day forecasts are certainly interesting!

Cheers G
 

POP

Registered User
I find most sites are fair to good,but what I think stumps the forecaster, is they can never get quite right the speed of the fronts.

POP
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I guess Britain is quite a tricky country to forecast because the default weather conditions are 'changeable'. It doesn't help being an island because it's hard to predict exactly what the weather will do when it reaches land.

I use both the metoffice and metcheck sites. I think (?) they're based on slightly different models so sometimes give different forecasts. What this tends to tell me is how confident I can be in the forecast. If there's significant agreement then I'm much more confident of what conditions will be like. Normally this only happens a day or two before. For example, if I look at current forecasts for Aberdeen for this weekend then the metoffice are saying that it's going to be rather wet and windy, whilst metcheck is a bit more optimistic, with only occasional rain and less strong winds. We'll see who's right.

I like metcheck mainly because it provides a lot of detail and it also seems to update its forecasts very regularly. The metoffice forecast only seems to update once a day. The metoffice site is very good for current or recent past information, which can also be useful e.g. the rainfall radar, finding out what's happened overnight etc.
 

Apodemus

Well-known member
Poor old Michael Fish! He actually got fed up with this a couple of years ago and spoke out, stating that he wasn't the forecaster that evening, and that the reference usually played on TV clips is of him saying that someone phoned in today saying a hurricane was coming and him saying that that was not the case. That's when the clips usually stop. So in the public consciousness, we have this image of Michael Fish poo-pooing the idea of a big storm.

However, if they continue the clips after that point, you have Michael Fish saying "however, it will be very windy" (not verbatim!) and going on to warn of very strong winds for that evening/night.

If I remember, it was John Kettley doing the evening forecast. Both Fish and Kettley (and the Met Office) underestimated the strength of the winds, but then that was because the low intensified unexpectedly quite late on.

As well as warning that it was going to be very windy, he advised people to "battten down the hatches". He was also right in there was not a hurricane on the way, although the winds did reach "hurricane speeds" in a few places. Not the same thing though. I don't think that any stronger warning would have led to people taking any different actions from those that they took

However, what everyone now remembers is that Michael Fish somehow caused this big storm and had the cheek to tell us all that there was no bad weather on the way.
 

username

Well-known member
By far the best forecast....google 'garry's weatherstone'.....[i would provide a link but i've never got round to doin them clicky link things]....as yet...!
 

ColinD

I'm younger than that now
Nobody curses weather forecasters more than me, but I do think that it is a more difficult job than most people think. Look at the size of a typical low pressure system, and consider how fast it is moving. The forecasters only need to be slightly out with the speed of the system, to really screw up your day.

Unless the weather is in an obvious rut, e.g. wet and windy for days and showing no sign of an improvement, or hot and sunny for days, I would not usually abandon my plans just because of a forecast. I might however have a Plan B ready just in case.

Some weather forecasters get me down because of the way they put the forecast across. For example we have local forecasters who seem to think that they're giving you bad news because they're forecasting it to be sunny, cold and crisp in winter. They don't seem to realise that warm in winter is actually worse news, because wind and rain usually accompany the warm days.

I think that the national BBC forecasters are easily the best.
 

Cheshire Birder

Well-known member
With regards to weather forecasting for birding, I find that sites that give a bigger pictute are very useful. ECMWF do very good mid range pressure charts that cover Europe and beyond, and Magic Seaweed do excellent windmaps that show how fronts move/develop over time.

Mark

I use several sites but I also find the pressure maps to be a better source of info than the forecasts. I quite often find the national and regional BBC forecasts will contradict each other. I often find my own judgement on using the maps as least as good as the professional forecasters.

CB
 

Joseph N

Lothian Young Birder
Calvin,

I am wanting to go out this weekend but the weather is forecasting that it will be chucking it down. However, I still have my hopes that the weather will be wrong, because as people have said even the experts can't predict the weather 100% correctly and are often erroneous in areas . However, of course they can be right. Are you thinking of going out like me this weekend Calvin? Admittedly weather forecasts do annoy me when I'm thinking about going birding, such as they are now. I also sometimes get annoyed when the weather predicts a particular wind direction that turns to be wrong on the day you go out. So yes, it is common to feel this way.

Joseph
 
Last edited:

TheSeagull

Well-known member
Calvin,

I am wanting to go out this weekend but the weather is forecasting that it will be chucking it down. However, I still have my hopes that the weather will be wrong, because as people have said even the experts can't predict the weather 100% correctly and are often erroneous in areas . However, of course they can be right. Are you thinking of going out like me this weekend Calvin? Admittedly weather forecasts do annoy me when I'm thinking about going birding, such as they are now. I also sometimes get annoyed when the weather predicts a particular wind direction that turns to be wrong on the day you go out. So yes, it is common to feel this way.

Joseph

Well I was thinking of going out to test the new sat nav. Sunday doesn't look too bad, Saturday looks to be the day for Christmas shopping!
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Yes, that's the worst of weather forecasts: when they are absolutely not what you want but they are rock solid. Even worse when in the week when you are stuck at work the weather is superb for birding - like this morning - and its going to be rubbish at the weekend!

John
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top