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#1359939 - 23/01/2016 06:53 Losing faith in the BoM
Graham M Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 430
Loc: Boambee East near Coffs Harbou...
A year or two ago I posted a thread relating to consistent errors in forecast minimum temperatures in certain conditions for where I live, Coffs Harbour NSW. I demonstrated that, when the BoM was given a nudge, they lifted their game for a while, but, as the computer models were never tweaked, the errors returned. I've also in a recent thread lamented the downgrading of our met office with often no one around to maintain equipment or take manual readings of things like sunshine (I still haven't worked out why in the 21st century sunshine readings can't be automated, but that's another story.) There are a lot more holes in the data than ever before when anemometers or pluviometers require servicing or wet bulb thermometers dry up.

Forecasts are increasingly done by computer models with little or no human input. The forecast maximum temperatures for Coffs over the last few months have been extraordinarily wide of the mark, more often than not over-estimating by several degrees. The week before last on two occasions 39 was predicted two days out, later revised to the mid-thirties, but the actual maxima were in the high 20s. Two days ago a predicted 35 was 29 and yesterday 37 turned out to be 30. Our highest maximum in January has been 30 and in December 31, despite frequent forecasts much higher.

The thing is, I don't think anyone in the BoM is even noticing! If a forecaster rather than a machine was making these consistent glaring errors, I'm sure s/he would pick it up pretty quickly, and make allowances.

Now before anyone points out to me that Coffs is difficult for forecasters, let me tell you that I know this. On hotter days a few compass degrees difference in a northerly wind can mean ten degrees temperature difference. But the BoM has always done better in the past. They have gone too far down the automated path.



Edited by Graham M (23/01/2016 06:55)
Edit Reason: typo

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#1359947 - 23/01/2016 08:19 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Wave Rider Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 27/01/2014
Posts: 7300
I don't think the BoM are aware that Coffs Harbour is a coastal location.
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#1359953 - 23/01/2016 08:40 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
logansi Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 17/11/2014
Posts: 1396
Loc: Adelaide S.A/Portland Vic
Portland Victoria suffers the same incorrect forecast but in a different way, - under forcasting. Over Christmas eve and Christmas day they were 25C out over just to days, Forecasting high 20's which reached high 30's
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#1359999 - 23/01/2016 12:53 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Seina Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 27/08/2003
Posts: 7764
Loc: Adelaide Hills
On the subject of automation one might want to consider what's happening across the country.

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#1360129 - 24/01/2016 09:34 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
retired weather man Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 01/07/2007
Posts: 5142
Loc: Wynnum
As someone who left BoM as automation was rapidly taking over, with staff redundancies continuing to this day as a result, my lips are sealed.


Edited by retired weather man (24/01/2016 09:42)
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#1360131 - 24/01/2016 09:44 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Funkyseefunkydo Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 30/04/2007
Posts: 892
Loc: East Lake Macquarie
the hunter valley can funnel wind down through Newcastle and keep the nor'easter off the coast. This can put temps well above the predicted. Not sure they can forecast that in.

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#1360138 - 24/01/2016 10:17 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Graham M Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 430
Loc: Boambee East near Coffs Harbou...
Retired weather man, I'd have liked to see what you said in the eight minutes before you edited your post! smirk (I've been interested to read your posts in the past.)

I also find it annoying that no one seems to care. Whenever the BoM puts out a media release saying how clever they are because they've got a new toy and they can now forecast seven days out, all the media outlets obligingly rush to publish it. The few investigative journalists that are left these days have better things to do than look into something as trivial as the weather. Inaccuracies are a taboo subject. Is it because most of us have low expectations, or do we just not care?

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#1360150 - 24/01/2016 11:59 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
bbowen Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 30/03/2011
Posts: 175
One quick thought....Has anyone actually got any empirical evidence of the inaccuracy of modern weather agencies (not just the BOM. My thoughts are that I think possibly peoples expectations may not be matching the reality.

Put yourself back 20 years, when people assumed that if the forecast was close enough then it was good enough, because they didn't expect much. Now put yourself in the present where we possibly assume that with all of the modern equipment we have we just assume that it should be very accurate.

It could be that if the data was analysed we may find a vast improvement ....or not. I can understand at the local level it may be more varied.

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#1360153 - 24/01/2016 12:52 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Seina Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 27/08/2003
Posts: 7764
Loc: Adelaide Hills
From my own perspective weather forecasting is only something the play around with and not take too seriously when people are not paying good money for a service.

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#1360155 - 24/01/2016 13:17 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Mike Hauber Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 13/07/2007
Posts: 3795
Loc: Buderim
Every government service has been cutting costs and privatising etc where ever possible for decades. Its the result of more of us living longer putting and additional strain on pension and health care budgets, and it being political suicide for any politician to suggest raising taxes to compensate.

Overall due to the benefits of computer models etc weather forecasting is way better than it was say 30 years ago. Sometimes I wish for the good old days when a major weather system could arrive as a surprise instead of being dissected to death in the models for days in advance.

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#1360156 - 24/01/2016 13:23 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Nerd65 Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 30/01/2011
Posts: 445
Loc: Cranbrook, Townsville
It's been said that a seven day forecast of the broad synoptic scale circulation today is as good as a three day forecast of 20 years ago and I'd believe that. The problem is when a local forecast comes straight out of a numerical model with no human interpretation. Only a skilled on site meteorologist can perform that function.
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#1360172 - 24/01/2016 15:27 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
bbowen Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 30/03/2011
Posts: 175
I understand everyone's issues regarding local automatic forecasts. But I would like to see forecast versus actual history from both today and from 10 - 30 years ago. It may be that we have come to expect something more that we never really had in the first place.

Of course I could be wrong but I would like to see the results. Perhaps RWM could give us some insight, if he is allowed/able.

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#1360177 - 24/01/2016 15:58 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Eevo Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 02/11/2013
Posts: 1726
Loc: Adelaide Hills
where else can you be consistently wrong and still get to keep your job? at the BOM!

i knew someone who worked for the BOM as a radar tech. he said the BOM have a high staff turnover, is this correct?

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#1360179 - 24/01/2016 16:05 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
bbowen Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 30/03/2011
Posts: 175
Not to target you specifically Eevo, but I think that your comment above shows maybe a lack of perspective. I think we may have lost sight that although our local obs may not be on the mark everytime (maybe even moreso) we now can predict better and further out storms - direction severity, cyclones - Direction, severity, genesis etc. where once we wouldn't have a clue. Just my thoughts. Againn Eevo not directed at you just what alot of people think in general, me included.

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#1360184 - 24/01/2016 16:32 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: bbowen]
Seina Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 27/08/2003
Posts: 7764
Loc: Adelaide Hills
Originally Posted By: bbowen
I understand everyone's issues regarding local automatic forecasts. But I would like to see forecast versus actual history from both today and from 10 - 30 years ago. It may be that we have come to expect something more that we never really had in the first place.

I'm not an expert in computer programming, but I do know the modelling we use as a guide requires input from Navier-Stokes Equations (Fluid Dynamics), and a lot of work has gone into them.

I also agree a lot of accuracy does depend on the memory (past behaviour) of the system.

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#1360196 - 24/01/2016 17:33 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: bbowen]
Eevo Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 02/11/2013
Posts: 1726
Loc: Adelaide Hills
Originally Posted By: bbowen
Not to target you specifically Eevo, but I think that your comment above shows maybe a lack of perspective. I think we may have lost sight that although our local obs may not be on the mark everytime (maybe even moreso) we now can predict better and further out storms - direction severity, cyclones - Direction, severity, genesis etc. where once we wouldn't have a clue. Just my thoughts. Againn Eevo not directed at you just what alot of people think in general, me included.


my comment is tongue in cheek. dont take it too seriously.:)

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#1360199 - 24/01/2016 18:06 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: bbowen]
ColdFront Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/06/2008
Posts: 19003
Loc: The Beach.
Originally Posted By: bbowen
Not to target you specifically Eevo, but I think that your comment above shows maybe a lack of perspective. I think we may have lost sight that although our local obs may not be on the mark everytime (maybe even moreso) we now can predict better and further out storms - direction severity, cyclones - Direction, severity, genesis etc. where once we wouldn't have a clue. Just my thoughts. Againn Eevo not directed at you just what alot of people think in general, me included.


I think you hit the nail on the head. I put up a fairly long winded rant about all the BoM bashing this morning and decided not to post it. If anything forecasting has gotten better over time and I can assure everyone that whinging about inaccurate forecasts occurred way back when too. BoM have always been an easy target for armchair experts that really have no idea of the complexities of the climate.

The part that has changed is how readily people blame everyone else these days and social media has been a big part in this. I could fairly accurately forecast the min-max in the tropics two to three days out most of the year particularly in Darwin, but there are so many complexities that people simply have no idea of as you head more into temperate climates like Melbourne and Sydney where troughs ,cold fronts (and more so their timing) make it extremely difficult to be right all the time. Particularly when there is often a 20 deg temp difference either side of the trough or front .

I propose those critics have a go themselves where we can all watch and judge grin .I'll go first .I reckon Darwin will be around 26 degs overnight for the next 2 months and 32 degs each day. Now for those of you in the lower half of the country smashing BoM for being a few degrees out , bang up your forecasts for the next two months day by day and let's see how you fair.

I remember not that long ago where I used to get a synoptic chart in the paper that was already a day old when the paper arrived. People these days don't know how good they've got it , but they'll whinge anyway.

*yes ,this is the short version* wink

Originally Posted By: Mike Hauber
Sometimes I wish for the good old days when a major weather system could arrive as a surprise instead of being dissected to death in the models for days in advance.


Me too. But then people would be wanting to sue BoM for lack of info as per the storm debacle in Brisbane a few years back despite being warned of severe storms on the news the previous night. Heck we even saw it on the news in Cairns, but they went and set up their marquees anyway and complained when they got blown away.
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#1360202 - 24/01/2016 18:23 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Seabreeze Offline
Weatherzone Moderator

Registered: 18/09/2005
Posts: 10653
Loc: South West Rocks
The errors with Coffs Harbour forecasts just seem to occur when there is above normal warmth. I can only recall it starting to be a problem around November, before that point forecast maximums were reasonably accurate (the odd big miss here and there but that kind of stuff will happen, this is now happening too often though). It's almost like they're forecasting for Grafton or some random location in the Coffs Harbour hinterland, rather than Coffs itself (was its location re-plotted in an incorrect location for some reason? e.g. during a recent upgrade?). Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Taree maximums have overall been very accurately predicted on these days. No doubt if this was occurring in a metropolitan area that it would have been rectified by now.

11/01/2016
Coffs
forecast 34, actual 29.0
Port
forecast 29, actual 28.4
Kempsey
forecast 31, actual 29.6
Taree
forecast 32, actual 31.4

12/01/2016
Coffs
forecast 33, actual 29.9 (the forecast had been a completely ridiculous 39 until the afternoon before)
Port
forecast 32, actual 30.9
Kempsey
forecast 34, actual 33.3
Taree
forecast 36, actual 36.1

13/01/2016
Coffs
forecast 34, actual 28.6
Port
forecast 30, actual 29.6
Kempsey
forecast 33, actual 31.2
Taree
forecast 31, actual 29.8

14/01/2016
Coffs
forecast 34, actual 30.2
Port
forecast 33, actual 32.2
Kempsey
forecast 35, actual 33.1
Taree
forecast 36, actual 37.0

21/01/2016
Coffs
forecast 35, actual 29.5
Port
forecast 31, actual 31.3
Kempsey
forecast 33, actual 31.7
Taree
forecast 34, actual 34.4

22/01/2016
Coffs
forecast 37, actual 30.3
Port
forecast 31, actual 31.4
Kempsey
forecast 33, actual 32.6
Taree
forecast 32, actual 34.8

Average error:
Coffs Harbour, 4.9C error
Port Macquarie, 0.6C error
Kempsey, 1.3C error
Taree, 1.0C error

Biggest error:
Coffs Harbour 6.7C
Port Macquarie 1.1C
Kempsey 1.9C
Taree 2.8C

Smallest error:
Coffs Harbour 3.1C
Port Macquarie 0.3C
Kempsey 0.4C
Taree 0.1C
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Year-to-date Rainfall: 555.8mm (January-June Avg. 934.7mm)

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#1360206 - 24/01/2016 19:42 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
Graham M Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 430
Loc: Boambee East near Coffs Harbou...
Thanks for those stats, Seabreeze. I haven't been organised enough to record them recently. If my memory serves me correctly there was another absurd 39 degree forecast two days out for the 14th.

And I agree, things seemed to go haywire around early November.

Our local ABC radio has a live cross to a BoM staffer each morning, and I phoned in one November morning to ask whether they had changed their algorithms for Coffs or were using different computer models. The day before I phoned, 30 degrees had been forecast and 22.5 was reached. I don't think he was happy at being ambushed. He didn't answer my question but pointed out that Coffs is a difficult place to forecast. I know, but as I pointed out, the BoM had done a good job until a few months ago.

The errors occur only when winds are roughly northerly. (The computer models don't seem to have enough faith in our seabreezes.) Today the winds were southerly and the forecast was spot on.

On one occasion last year I noticed that relative humidity readings from their AWS were about 15 to 20% out. Had been for the best part of a week. I brought it to their attention, but as there are now long periods when there's no one home, it was several days before it was fixed. Only after I'd pestered them did I receive acknowledgement and thanks for pointing it out.

And in response to the person who says many people complain too much, I agree. Social media has made it easier to whinge about anything and everything. But are you saying we should all bite our tongues when something is awry?

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#1360267 - 25/01/2016 09:19 Re: Losing faith in the BoM [Re: Graham M]
retired weather man Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 01/07/2007
Posts: 5142
Loc: Wynnum
Originally Posted By: Graham M
Retired weather man, I'd have liked to see what you said in the eight minutes before you edited your post! smirk (I've been interested to read your posts in the past.)

I also find it annoying that no one seems to care. Whenever the BoM puts out a media release saying how clever they are because they've got a new toy and they can now forecast seven days out, all the media outlets obligingly rush to publish it. The few investigative journalists that are left these days have better things to do than look into something as trivial as the weather. Inaccuracies are a taboo subject. Is it because most of us have low expectations, or do we just not care?


Graham M - All I added after those 8 minutes was the bit regarding redundancies continuing to this day.

The cut backs started back in 1985, when the then 'Worlds Best Treasurer' ( how many since then ?? ) who not only sewed the seeds for where the country is today ( little local manufacturing left ), but commenced an 'annual efficiency dividend' for all Commonwealth Departments, including BoM. This was a percentage based annual reduction in spending.

As BoM is a scientific organization the stage was set for increased automation with the resultant commencement of staff reductions particularly in the operational ( Observation ) areas.

Back then there was always a high degree of quality control of our observations, almost all of which were then still performed manually. Instruments had to CLEANED AND MAINTAINED regularly, at least weekly, as they were exposed to the elements.

As AWS's started to proliferate many parallel observation sites were created to check new against the old. And yes there were some differences in characteristics between them, particularly at the extreme ends of the readings. So the arguments commenced were the old or new systems correct, with a backdrop of a subject not allowed to be discussed in these Forums looming.

But as years rolled by and the efficiency dividends tightened it was decided that AWS's were the way to go. But there are so many AWS's now they are a tech's nightmare, and the techs simply cant get around the massive array of AWS's to perform cleaning, maintenance and repair in a timely fashion compared to the manual days with a lesser network.

I think the feeling now is that with a massive array of AWS's a few malfunctioning will be ' covered ' by a close by properly working one. But I doubt it they are all cleaned as often as we did. Any by cleaning I mean inside and OUTSIDE the instrument shelters. The outsides are painted white and we cleaned them weekly. If not dust, pollution, salt, smog etc build up on the outsides and discolour the white coatings and if left unchecked more heat is absorbed by these darker colours giving rise to a potential for higher readings by the enclosed instruments whether they be manual or automatic.

And of course there are all manner or problems for the instruments themselves not reading correctly with the same build up of elements described earlier on the instruments, plus snakes, ants, wasps nests and other wildlife that feel these enclosed instrument shelters are good for them too.

In our day we checked these things daily, but now with hundreds of mostly unmanned AWS's all over maybe what I described above could have a bearing on some of the anomalies that some WZ posters are noting in there own areas.

But the dollar reigns supreme and as another poster correctly said - pensions, etc and don't forget the pollies own massive super payouts, have to be paid for.
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