A Channel 4 News weather presenter has slammed Express weather forecast reports as “utter garbage” in an attack on what he described as “fake weather stories”.
In a tweet, Liam Dutton took aim at two stories published late last month on Express.co.uk (but which did not appear in the Daily Express print edition).
The first was headlined: “UK weather forecast: DANGER TO LIFE alert – Britain braces for DOUBLE-VORTEX SUPER-TEMPEST.”
The second, published on Friday, was titled: “UK weather warning: Britain set for FORTNIGHT of HEAVY SNOW in longest FREEZE for 70 years.”
Challenging the reports, Dutton said: “It seems as though @Daily_Express weather stories are now becoming a parody of themselves, making it somewhat easier to see that they are utter garbage.”
“I see some of the tabloids are up to their old tricks – trying to make snow that’ll affect a few who live high up on a mountain sound like snow for everyone,” he said in another tweet.
Dutton has produced a video guide on how to spot so-called “fake weather stories”. In the Channel 4 clip (below), he said “stupid, nonsensical and scaremongering” weather reports make his “blood boil”.
Pointing out the hallmarks of so-called fake weather stories, Dutton claims reports suggesting that one type of weather will last for months are “almost always nonsense” as that is “just not how weather works” in the UK.
He went on to accuse newspapers looking for sensational weather headlines of using sources that are “less trustworthy” than the Met Office and other major weather forecast providers.
He also warned audiences to note that headline writers use Fahrenheit temperatures when they want to inflate hot temperatures and Celsius when they want to sensationalise cold weather.
Some “unscrupulous writers” were accused by Dutton of using ground temperatures as opposed to air temperatures because ground temperatures could be as much as “ten to 15 degrees higher”.
Asked for comment on sensational weather news reporting, the Met Office said: “Our weather forecasts are more reliable than ever before and people want them to be accurately reported by the press.”
The Met Office provides weather forecast information to most national news broadcasters, including Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5.
The BBC stopped using the Met Office as its primary supplier of weather information earlier this year, and now uses London-based Meteo Group for forecasting reports.
Both of the Express stories flagged by Dutton in his tweet quoted UK-based weather forecasting company Weather Action, which is founded and run by Piers Corbyn, brother of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The astrophysicist has previously told the BBC there is “no such thing as man-made climate change” and this week said Sir David Attenborough was a “disgrace to science” after he warned that people across the world were “suffering” because of climate change.
In one of the stories highlighted by Dutton, the Express also quoted a forecaster for small private company Exacta Weather.
In his three-and-half-minute video, Dutton argues that news on the weather can have a big influence on people’s behaviour and potentially damage the economy and even threaten life.
He said: “What if there is a false weather story doing the rounds about bad weather in Britain, and everyone cancels their summer holidays here? Tourism and the economy would take a hit.
“And weather can be a matter of life and death, even in the UK. Extreme weather events can be deadly, and people need accurate information.”
He added: “Professionals tend to rely on the Met Office, or other leading providers of weather information, who have proven records of accuracy.
“But newspapers looking for a shocking headline often use sources who are much less trustworthy.
“It’s worth checking the story to see who is making the prediction. If it’s someone with no qualifications or credentials, the story is probably junk.”
He said it didn’t help that newspapers “sometimes just copy each other’s stories, so one dubious claim gets repeated”.
He added: “Junk weather stories undermine people’s faith in forecasters and makes my job more difficult, so I’m going to carry on calling out these stories…”
Reach, publisher of the Express, declined to comment.
Picture: Channel 4/Daily Express