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Met confirms secret Gov forecast of Brass Monkey winter

Didn't share it with us, though

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It's not our fault, we need bigger computers

The map showed an above average likelihood of milder weather for the next three months. The Met says that this data requires "expert interpretation" and "the need to be combined with a range of other information before you can make a seasonal forecast" (Oct 28). After criticism by London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Met again denied making a forecast of a "mild winter" (Dec 20).

The Met announced that it would stop making long range public forecasts in March this year – so the controversy centres on what exactly on what was said to whom, and when. The latter should be easy to clear up – once we find out exactly what communications passed between the Met Office and The Cabinet Office. But the Met vigorously denies "forecasting" anything.

A probabilistic map suggesting the likelihood of warmer-than-average temperatures prompted a flurry of news stories in October – followed by a denial from the Met that it the map constituted a prediction or forecast.

Chief Scientist at the Met Office Julia Slingo used the opportunity to campaign for a supercomputer upgrade.

"It's quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job – tomorrow – in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions," she told Nature blog last week. "It's so frustrating. We keep saying we need four times the computing power."

Last year Slingo said "hundreds of millions of pounds" of new computer kit was needed.

It must be frustrating, indeed. The Met Office only took delivery of its £33m IBM supercomputer in February, following a deal signed in 2008.

The same models are used to predict both weather and climate, Slingo told Parliament in March last year. ®

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