UK: Weather forecasters accused of frightening tourists
Thursday, 21. June 2012, 16:41
One holiday park director condemned weather forecasts as “increasingly alarmist”, while another criticised meteorologists for attempting to “cover all eventualities” for fear of getting it wrong.
They claim forecasts have left tourists “terrified” to venture into British holiday resorts, fearing their caravans will be left “bobbing around the park”.
This, they claim, is having a serious affect on the tourism trade as holidaymakers choose to travel abroad where they are assured of higher temperatures and constant daytime sun.
They are now appealing for meteorologists to be mindful of the impact of forecasts, adding: "We're not asking them to bend the truth, but just to be more careful with phrasing.”
But BBC weather presenter Tomasz Schafernaker has insisted forecasters have no reason to want to “dampen the spirits”, but says they must warn the public of poor or dangerous weather conditions.
Mr Schafernaker, from BBC South East Today, said "I understand the frustration and there is a tendency for weather forecasters to emphasise on the negative aspects of the weather.
"Fundamentally that's what weather forecasters are for – they are there to highlight the dangers.
"But there is certainly no reason why we would want to dampen the sprits or be deliberately pessimistic.
"It's just that our job is to pick out the most important parts of the weather which can affect people's lives.
"If indeed there's going to be a shower somewhere we need to flag up that possibility."
A spokesman for the BBC said their forecasts use the “best source of forecast data”, which they obtain from the Met Office.
Dan Williams, forecaster at the Met Office, said they wanted to provide the most accurate predictions and added: “We are forecasting the weather as it is.
“Unfortunately throughout June we have had an exceptional amount of rain in some places and our reports reflect that.”
Claire Jeavons, who runs the Beverley Park holiday site in Paignton, Devon, said "alarmist" forecasts which often proved groundless were having a major impact on bookings across the West Country.
"It is already causing holiday-makers to stay away,” she said. “Just a few days ago we were hearing that all caravan parks in the West Country were on flood alert, and this simply wasn't the case.”
Tony Clish, director of Park Holidays UK which owns 700 caravans in Suffolk, said he believes weather forecasters are afraid of being caught out after recent predictions of a “barbecue summer” were proved to be inaccurate.
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