The Boy Who Cried Wolf, or why some publications keep predicting 'doom and gloom'

It’s that time of the year again. You know that winter is coming when The Express publishes the same fake harsh weather winter forecast as last year. And the year before. And the year before that ...  

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is one of Aesop's most famous Fables. The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf. In later English-language poetic versions of the fable, the wolf also gets to eat the boy. However, this bad ending doesn't deter The Express one bit from 'crying wolf' with regard to winters past and present.


Readers of the The Express website must have experienced a severe sense of deja-vu this week, when they read:
HEAVY SNOW warning: UK faces COLDEST winter for DECADE - shock long-range weather forecast.  
Shocking indeed, that The Express keeps peddling the same fake news, year after year. 

Meteorologist Danny Høgsholt, working as a meteorologist at Danske Commodities was extremely clear and factual in his immediate tweeted reply to this story:

“Another HARSH #winter is in store for the UK - according to @Daily_Express. ... as was the case in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 #nonsense #OMG"

From “Arctic winds that bring the country to a total standstill” to “probably warmest ever winter”

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad. Take the prediction for the winter of 2015-2016. The Express then predicted:
"Coldest winter for 50 YEARS set to bring MONTHS of heavy snow to UK. BRITAIN is facing the most savage winter in more than 50 years with months of heavy snowfall and bitter Arctic winds set to bring the country to a total standstill.”

It wasn't even close. At the end of that winter The Guardian concluded – rightfully so – that 'Winter 'was probably warmest ever in England and Wales'.  




While the Express's daily weather forecasts are fine, their annual long term forecast alarm is definitely way off. But why still cry wolf every year, when they must know by now that their long term forecasts are unsubstantiated? The answer, presumably, is clickbait. Sensational news sells. And the prediction of doom and gloom is a tried and tested method to attract viewers. And viewers attract advertisers. It’s as simple as that. And, as a stopped clock is right twice a day, at some point these fake forecasts will be ‘right’ simply because you can keep crying ‘wolf’ and at some point the wolf will be there. But it’s unlikely many readers will take The Express’s word for it. Nevertheless, regardless of the outcome this year, we can be pretty sure they will predict a horrendously cold winter again for 2019-2020. 

(And don’t just take it from us. Already in 2016: Worst Daily Express scaremongering in thirty years)

What CAN we say about the coming winter?

“At this early stage we convey the winter forecast in terms of probability, advising our customers on the level of forecast confidence and risk." says Matt Dobson, Senior Energy Meteorologist at MeteoGroup. "This allows them to make informed decisions at an early stage, and then we keep in contact with them during autumn as we refine our predictions. Our advanced and proven long range forecast methodology builds trust with our customers."

As the cold impacts huge parts of our economy, the earlier businesses know that it’s coming, the better they can prepare. This saves money, helps to secure operations, increases safety and enables better planning and smoother operations across all sectors. From Energy and Telecom, through Water Utilities, Automotive, Retail, Shipping, Transport and Public Authorities, all sectors benefit from a reliable early warning system.

"Our long term forecasting service, or World Climate Service, provides expert long-term forecasting for up to six months, giving customers all the data and tools necessary to develop mid- to long-term plans. Created in partnership with US-based Prescient Weather Ltd., this comprehensive tool combines multi-model input with vast meteorological and climatological expertise. As early as last September, Meteogroup correctly informed customers about the increased threat of several cold spells across the Alps and south-western Europe, which we saw here in December and February."

Although businesses are getting better at ignoring the sensationalist, largely non-factual articles from publications such as The Express, they still are searching for reliable longer term insights. 

If you are interested in knowing what's the upcoming winter has in store you can sign up for our upcoming Webinar on Winter Outlook 2018/19 HERE.



Another HARSH #winter is in store for the UK - according to @Daily_Express. ... as was the case in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 #nonsense #OMG