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WMN opinion: Embrace the weather and don't blame the forecasters

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 03, 2012

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When it rains it pours, and let’s face it this summer it has poured and poured and poured.

Crops have been devasted, camp sites have been less than half empty, and events across the Westcountry have been cancelled.

It’s been a tough summer for all, save the odd indoor attraction that has enjoyed several happy days when forlorn and sodden visitors have trooped in out of the rain.

For some, losses have been huge.

Rick Turner, owner of the Big Sheep in Abbotsham, puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Met Office – which, he says, has put thousands off from visiting or going out for the day because of its gloomy forecasts.

He feels so strongly about pessimistic forecasting that he is prepared to go to court, because he says the Met Office should be accountable.

His call for more optimistic forecasting has been echoed by Malcolm Bell, of Visit Cornwall, who thinks forecasts need to be ‘more balanced’.

We absolutely sympathise with Mr Turner and all businesses who have suffered over the summer. Newspapers are hugely affected by adverse weather conditions too.

But to blame the weather forecasters after one of the worst summers since records began seems to be falling into the trap of shooting the messenger.

This year the Westcountry suffered the wettest April, and equal wettest June, in 250 years.

Exceptional rainfall in early summer put that period alone on a par with the 10th wettest winter on record.

Overall Devon and Cornwall have had their second wettest summer on record. Cornwall notched up a total of 428mm of rain during the three summer months, but was beaten by a wetter Devon which recorded 441.1mm.

That is a foot-and-a-half of water. It’s also been one of the dullest summers on record with just 399 hours of sunshine up to August 28.

Even if you allow for the fact that weather can be very localised, it is unreasonable to expect the Met Office, or any other weather forecaster, to dress up weather like that.

In the same way it is a newspaper’s job to report the news, the Met Office is there to forecast the weather. It is not there to market the Westcountry as a tourist attraction.

We would urge everyone in the Westcountry to embrace the weather.

We know conditions here can be ‘changeable’, that is part of the reason why our countryside is so beautiful.

We also know the Westcountry holiday industry has improved immeasurably over the past few years.

A holiday in the South West can match one anywhere in the world for the quality of accommodation, food and drink, culture, and experiences. We can’t promise good weather – and marketing people should not make the mistake of trying, or of trying to persuade the Met Office to. In all other respects a Westcountry holiday is a winner.

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