This must stop now.

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.

snowpredict
Exacta Weather graphical forecasts for the winter of 2013-14

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?

expressflow
A re-hash of the back-scratching relationship

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.

expressagain
Just one of the numerous Express stories, instigated by Exacta Weather, that you’ve no doubt seen this year!

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.

expressagain2
Just one of the endless examples of phantom feedback.

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.

expressagain3
The latest update from James Madden, levying criminal claims at other weather companies (I’ve chosen to remove identities and links for legal reasons).

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.

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8 thoughts on “This must stop now.

  1. Very well said. His attack on metcheck and M*** H*** smack of desperation.
    His “forecasts” are an utter joke.
    I myself am banned from commenting on his fb page for daring to question him.

  2. I know little about forecasting but when you look at last years heavy snow forecast and shocking winter storms..it was not as far off as you think. The U.S endured the worst winter…we endured the worst winter for storms but it was milder as winds relentlessly came from the West….a resulting deluge of wind and rain. On the Scottish hills there was record snowfall which shows it was only slightly milder to the north than normal. To his credit he was on to something with the worst winter storms prediction.

    Let’s though have a look at a particular index which if he had been watching would have shown that the chances of a cold and snowy winter were slim.

    It is called the O.P.I or October Pattern Index. Last year it was positive but 3 and 4 years ago it was negative. Trough the 70’s and up to early eighties negative. The lowest negative was in 2009…this year it is the second lowest in 40 years. It would be reasonable to conclude that this index plays a very good connection part of the data to determine the chances of a cold and snowy winter.

    • Hi Alan. Thanks for your comment.

      As a meteorologist, I’m afraid I cannot disagree more strongly with your comments. There are always huge snowstorms, huge droughts and huge temperature fluctuations going on around the globe, at any one time. There is no forecasting skill in saying that somewhere on Earth will be abnormally snowy this winter; this is common sense. The skill in forecasting is saying where this will happen, and Madden’s forecasts were utterly wrong. Citing record snowfall over the Scottish Mountains does not cut it either. Precipitation above several hundred metres in Scotland will invariably be of snow even in the mildest of winters, and the only reason Highland Scotland picked up so much was because of record precipitation due to unusually mild, moist south-westerly flows.

      The O.P.I. is simply the latest buzz index. Every winter has a new one. It may well be that the O.P.I. ends up as something amazing but until it has more verification, we’ll have to wait and see. And in any case, the existence of the O.P.I. this winter does not justify Exacta’s commentary again at present.

      Once again, thank-you for taking the time to give feedback.
      Weatherman79

      • Hi Weatherman79,

        Thanks for your reply.

        If Exacta get it right this year it would go a long way to restoring the credibility of the site.

        Of course some people would love Exacta to be wrong again this year…let’s hope for a snowy winter because I reckon a similar one to last year would just deflate everyone. Last year Moscow and a large part of Russia had mild temperatures, we would need to see real cold developing over there to push this into Europe for us to have any chance of a severe spell of cold.

        Cheers

        Alan

      • Hi Alan

        There are two reasons why, in my opinion, that a cold winter would not verify Exacta’s forecasts, nor repair credibility.

        Firstly, if you predict the same thing every year, you will eventually be correct. Anyone who’s anyone can predict that every winter will be cold and eventually get it right. You need to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt how your conclusions are drawn, whether that be long term teleconnections, seasonal parameters, numerical model output, etc. Madden’s claims are largely devoid of any of these, except for cherry-picked images from here and there.

        Secondly, if Exacta were forecasting “A colder than normal winter with a greater incidence of snowfall than is normal” then it would be easily verified one way or another. Instead, predicting tabloid-appealing cold spells of the century, deepest snow in history or “100 days of snow” cannot be verified by one cold snap bringing quite normal conditions for winter.

        You can, however, be perfectly confident that snow of any quantity or description, even if it falls in a foreign country, will be used by James Madden to verify all of the aforementioned predictions.

        I would urge you to delve deeper in the past workings of Exacta and the claims they (he) have made in order to truly appreciate the issue that the entire met industry has with them.

        Thanks again for your feedback,

        Weatherman79

  3. Hi weatherman 79.

    Couldn’t agree more with you comments he has been forecasting snow for this winter since the start of July with a quote, if you don’t like it hot wait until 16 weeks time when you will be deep in snow its 18 weeks now and still waiting,look at his forecast for this August the hottest for 300 hundred years, it turned out to be one of the coldest and wettest.I am still picking herbs,and the odd strawberry here in my garden in Lincoln, Lincolnshire so it not that cold.
    Peter Hewitt

  4. It seems as thought the online news desks of Anglophone newspapers have been running Exacta press releases and their warnings of impending snow more than ever this year. Have you ever been able to uncover any more about who JM is, who is supporting him, and why? At the risk of sounding like an online crank, I do sometimes wonder whether that this organisation may has any real interest in the story at all.

    Now; you must excuse me while I go and read some more about the myths and fallacies of post-hypnotic suggestion, which interests me almost as much as the weather does…

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