TV Meteorologists, UHI and Climate Change

The Great British Weather

I watched last night on BBC iPlayer the first of the four-part series “The Great British Weather”.  It was ‘weather as entertainment’ broadcast from a ‘roadshow’ on St Ives beach.  I had it ‘on in the background’ as sometimes they have interesting old footage; in this case a piece about the ‘weather window’ for the D-day landings caught my attention.  However, I thought I was hearing things when Carol Kirkwood, who was talking about microclimates, mentioned urban heat islands.

Screenshot from Programme 1 BBC TV Series "The Great British Weather"

“The microclimates of our nation’s large towns and cities are known as urban heat islands and it is the manmade landscape that is causing them.  Densely packed buildings act like a giant storage heater, absorbing heat and radiating it back out, ensuring that cities like London can be up to ten degrees warmer than their surrounding areas.”

The BBC is also rolling out some former broadcast meteorologists for the series and the Daily Telegraph among others carried interviews with them in advance of the series.

More hype than substance

The print version of the 9th July edition of the Daily Telegraph  carried their comments under the headline “Today’s young forecasters are a shower, say BBC veterans“. The veteran broadcasters, all trained meteorologists, are quoted as saying the current generation of TV forecasters are inexperienced, suggesting that a combination of cutbacks and fame-seeking is to blame.

“With the accountants running everything one way to cut back on costs is to have younger, cheaper people, rather than those who had come up though the grades.”

“Now people are coming into it because it’s a great opportunity to get on TV.”

Also in the DT online version (13th July) Michael Fish, Bill Giles and John Kettley on their return to the BBC

On Climate Change (when asked what questions they are asked by the public)

BG “Climate change is the big one. Do we believe in climate change?”
JK “We’d all answer differently there. Thirty per cent of me is sceptical. I’m not arguing about whether it’s happening. My first argument is to say the climate always does change. You go back to the Thirties and Forties – we started to warm up just like we’re doing now. Is it exponential or is it more gradual? Nobody forecast three harsh winters.”
MF “I believe in it categorically, in fact I spend a lot of my time giving lectures on climate change and global warming because I’m so concerned and I want to get the message out.”
BG “My belief is that yes, we are warming the climate up. But for every meteorological question there are about 32 answers. Where people have gone wrong is to say, ‘It’s the greenhouse gases and that’s it.’ There are a lot of other things involved. It’s about finding the reasons why this is happening and asking if it is likely to continue.”

I always did trust Bill Giles 😉

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8 Responses to TV Meteorologists, UHI and Climate Change

  1. Pascvaks says:

    Somewhere, somewhen, a tidal sea change occured in television weather reporting and we went from young men just getting into news broadcasting who read the weather report for the local area and stood infront of a map or two –on most small stations in the US– to older, real Met Men, who knew all about the subject and often went out on a limb and gave pretty good personal guesstimates of what was coming. Then the tide changed, the age of computer generated guesstimates replaced all the old guys who knew what they were talking about and the pretty girls were hired; of course they now had a freshly printed sheepskin from somewhere saying they knew how to read a computer printout. Life’s a real beach! Weather changes everything, too!

  2. j ferguson says:

    During my flying days in the 70s and 80s, I had a very simple requirement for the weather person; that he/she not stand in front of the surface prognosis chart (the one that shows the fronts and wind-speeds and directions using the little flags. although I was obliged to get weather briefings from the FAA, it was useful to see what things looked like.

    Alas, they don’t show them anymore – likely too complicated for the viewing public.

    • Verity Jones says:

      spot on! The of course there is the ‘dumbing down’ because the viewers don’t understand it. Sigh! All that has happened is that those of us who did appreciate the detail have gone elsewhere and the rest are not much better informed (and now have no chance of learning as they view).

      @j ferguson
      Abandonment of the synoptic charts is a pet hate of mine too. I like that the US and Canadian forecasts always seem to include the position of the Jet Stream and that is something I wish they show in the UK. I usually look it up (at the same time as looking at the synoptic charts).

  3. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    I remember Michael Fish on a weather report saying that a woman had phoned him up and said she heard there was a hurricane heading for the the south of England on Dutch radio, well there isn’t!

    He now denies he ever said this. How can you believe anything he says!

  4. ArndB says:

    Hi Verity,
    (1) „about the ‘weather window’ for the D-day landings caught my attention.”, and
    (2) JK (John Kettley) “…You go back to the Thirties and Forties …….. Nobody forecast three harsh winters.”

    # (1): The British Met-Office lists the D-Day prediction at “Our History”: (after 1854, 1922, comes 1944)
    That made me write a post one year ago: “A Storm from nowhere few days after D-Day in June 1944“
    ___”…an unexpected storm lashed across the English Channel on 19 June 1944 lasting for three days. From Britain to France the operation and supply area for the invasion was severely affected. 800 ships and floating units were beached or lost, more than the German army managed to take out during the entire campaign. It was the most severe storm in June for 40 years has been claimed. The weather maps do not show the event. The Met services did not foresee the event, and modern science is still speechless; no interest, no research, no explanation.” Full text at:

    #(2) It is the subject with the “three harsh winters” that keeps me low profile, as I am rewriting my first book on that matter (at: that claims it had been the naval war, which produced the three extreme winters, 1939/40, 1940/41 and 1941/42.
    I hope to finish in a few months time, wishing a very fine summer time,
    with best regards Arnd

    • Verity Jones says:

      Hello Arnd,
      good to have you drop by again. Soak up all the sun you can this summer, you can always write in the winter. There are some saying we’re going to have another cold one.

      • E.M.Smith says:

        I’ll have another cold one! 😉
        [Reply – well go on then – I’m sure it’ll slip down easy on a hot summer afternoon ;-D ]

        (It’s an American thing, as I understand it …)

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