Skip to content

Jay Wynne on summer temperatures: worse than the legendary Michael Fish?

|
Andrew Montford, GWPF

In climate land, terrible forecasts are celebrated

Last week, a tweet from Carbon Brief’s Leo Hickman picked up an extraordinary amount of attention: 22,000 retweets and 40,000 likes is not to be sneezed at, particularly when two of the retweets were from Gary Lineker (7 million followers) and Stephen Fry (20 million). It’s fair to say this humble comment will not receive nearly so much attention, but such is the way of the world.

Hickman’s tweet was as follows:

As another BBC celeb, the Gardener’s Question Time chairman (and fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society) Peter Gibb put it “Pretty good forecast from Jay Wynne”.

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with two-digit numbers will presumably not need longer than two or three seconds to see that this was anything other than a “pretty good forecast”. Does anyone who isn’t entirely innumerate really think that a “typical summer’s day” in south-east England has a temperature of 30°C? I suppose it’s just about possible that if you lived many leagues away away but still watched the BBC you might have been kidded that London temperatures were that hot, but let’s face it, your life would have to have been a pretty sheltered one.

Lest anyone doubt me, the figure below shows, on the right, temperatures for Heathrow Airport for the four years to the start of August 2018 and, on the left, an equivalent period running to August 2003 (the last heatwave).

What is patently obvious is that is neither period is a “typical summer’s day” anything like 30°C. It’s not even close. 22°C perhaps, or even 25°C, but anyone who tells you it’s 30°C is a charlatan. Jay Wynne’s forecast should go down in history alongside Michael Fish’s legendary 1987 hurricane forecast.