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Cornwall tourist chiefs throw shade on BBC weather broadcasts

VisitCornwall wants the BBC and MeteoGroup to give warnings about the accuracy of five-day forecasts.

Sunshine at Looe, Cornwall (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Sunshine at Looe, Cornwall (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Tourism bosses in Cornwall are calling on the BBC to warn the public their TV weather broadcasts are predictions, rather than accurate forecasts.

They are concerned that five-day forecasts can put tourists off from visiting the county if they think it might rain.

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of VisitCornwall, said the county’s weather is unique and its south-western location means it often gets incoming weather fronts before the rest of the UK – so it can be sunny while the rest of the country needs an umbrella.

He wants the BBC and its weather data partner MeteoGroup to give warnings about the accuracy of the five-day forecasts.

It isn’t because we want them to say it is sunny all the time Malcolm Bell

“I know that the whether forecast for the next 24 hours is very accurate, for 24 to 48 hours it is reasonably accurate, and for 48 to 72 it can be accurate, and after that it is more of a prediction,” Mr Bell said.

“The problem we have is that at this time of the year a core of our business is short breaks and someone may look at a forecast on a Monday and say it does not look very good for the weekend and won’t bother coming down.

“What we are really asking – particularly when it is just symbols – is that some warning (is given) about the accuracy looking forward for five or six days.

“It isn’t because we want them to say it is sunny all the time. What we want is for them to reinforce that it is only really accurate for up to three days, and after that look on the local weather forecast or weather app, but keep an eye on it because it is unlikely to be what we think it is now.

“That’s our gripe really.”

Early morning sunlight breaks through heavy clouds over Penzance (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Bell said that around 25% of Cornwall’s tourism business is short breaks – often booked at the last minute – and accurate weather forecasts are vital in attracting visitors.

“Particularly at this time of year during the Easter holidays, people do keep their eye on the weather and with the internet you can book very late,” he said.

“Although the BBC weather presenters are wonderful… when they speak a lot of people are not listening to the weather forecasts, they see the symbols.

“What we would ideally like is for them to say it is an unpredictable week for the weather, look at the weather apps.

“What we want is to alert people, because if they come down thinking it will be sunny and it turns out to be raining, that is equally as bad as if someone has been deterred because the forecast said it was raining and it turned out to be sunny.

“It is making it clear what is a confident forecast and what’s a prediction for the future and keep an eye on it.”

Waves crash against the harbour wall in Penzance during Storm Freya (PA)

A BBC spokesman said: “We welcome feedback from our viewers and know how important it is for our audience to get accurate and up-to-date forecasts whenever they need them.

“BBC Weather management monitors output and takes viewers’ comments into account as part of the review process.

“We now use even more weather data from multiple sources and MeteoGroup uses several weather models. Through advanced statistical techniques they combine these to create a superior forecast.

“On average, the statistics confirm that our users can rely on very accurate forecasts.”



From Belfast Telegraph