Earlier this year, I wasted many a minute collating and verifying weather stories printed in the Express newspaper. The aim of my news gathering antics was to concoct a humorous overview of how consistently forecasting the same apocalyptic weather would verify eventually. Of course, in the case of the Express claims of the worst snow in history, it didn’t verify, not in the slightest, and we endured one of the mildest, wettest winters in living memory.
The bulk of the material for the Express’s extreme meteorological misery was pumped from “Exacta Weather”, a one-man company claiming unrivaled success in long range forecasting. At winter’s end, I even bungled together Exacta’s weather graphics for the entire winter, ultimately proving how the repetitive prediction of snow in one of the mildest winter’s we’ve witnessed, can make a man look ridiculous.
The symbiotic relationship between Exacta Weather and the Express was also discussed at great length and I was rather frank about my opinion of these bedfellows. Should it be right, or even legal, that one can set up a weather “company” with zero meteorological training or credentials, make completely unsubstantiated claims about your accuracy and forecasting methods, and enjoy your forecasts published in the mainstream media for all to see? Should hard-working, legitimate weather companies have their industry dragged through the mud (waist-deep in the case of last winter) so that rogue traders can publicise their name and make extra cash for the tabloids?
You would think, with such negative publicity and disastrously embarrassing forecasting results, Exacta Weather may lay low this year. Sadly, the reality is quite unbelievably different.
As early as September, Exacta were already making claims about the coming winter of 2014-15, and how it would be incredibly cold and snowy. The Express were soon on the case, spilling Exacta’s claims into homes and offices near you. Once again, the weather industry was becoming a laughing stock because of the potentially narcissistic tendencies of one individual hiding in northern England.
This is no longer substance of humour, not for those who work within the legitimate weather industry at any rate. I’d also suggest it’s a rather serious development for those who aren’t party to Exacta’s track record and part with hard-earned cash for Exacta’s forecasts (yes, apparently they do sell them). The situation has become so significant that comments and debates in various social media and forums are bordering on legal minefields.
Exacta, headed (or solely inhabited by) James Madden, have pulled their Twitter account due to intense scrutiny. They have, however, kept their Facebook account. Why, you may ask? Well, unlike Twitter, Facebook page owners can delete, at will, any comments or replies that are not to their liking, thus removing anything that may cast their company in a bad light.
An amusing Facebook niggle, however, is that a strap-line exists to display the number of comments that have been left, even though you cannot read them. In an endless cycle of rinse and repeat, each new addition byExacta Weather in their Facebook group (invariably forecasting snowfall hell) is followed swiftly by “8 comments”, “15 comments”, “25 comments”. However, disappointed readers discover that, when attempting to view these comments, they simply don’t exist. Worse still, the comments’ authors have been mystically banned from commenting in future. It’s certainly a far-cry from the UK’s national agency, the Met Office, who are required to air their accuracy statistics and accept all comment in return. Make of this what you will.
I’m choosing to keep very much at arm’s length just now as, bewilderingly and presumably under pressure, James Madden has taken to task some of those levying criticism at him with some potentially slanderous remarks.
So, the current situation is that Exacta Weather are predicting another winter of the worst snowfall ever. They’re working at light-speed to banish any potentially damaging references to their previous forecasting claims or performance. They’re becoming increasingly volatile, delving worryingly close to legal storms.
But, Exacta Weather and James Madden, are still enjoying their name in lights on the front pages of national newspapers, damaging the credibility of the entire weather industry and even destroying any credibility the tabloid press has.
This has to stop. Now.