The head of the National Showcaves Centre in Brecon Beacons National Park claims “inaccurate” forecasts of gloomy weather are damaging the Welsh tourism industry.
The chairman of the Dan-Yr-Ogof cave, Ashford Price, is threatening to sue the United Kingdom’s National Weather Service, the Met Office, for putting off visitors.
“What is happening all too frequently nowadays are too many gloom and doom reports by the weather forecasters,” Price said.
"The big problem is that we can't afford for the Met Office to get it wrong on key holiday dates for the tourism industry.”
Price alleged a Good Friday forecast called for snow in South and West Wales, which never came. The holiday is usually the kickstarter for the tourist season, but many tourists cancelled plans because of the predicted snow.
“It is true that the weather over the Easter period was very cold, but it was also sunny with clear blue skies,” said Price.
The Met Office claims it did not predict snow in the area on that day.
Price said the loss of tourism cost the Showcaves thousands of pounds and claimed the Met Office had a history of getting it wrong.
“On many occasions last year the same thing happened with predictions being made by the weather people early in the week that the weekend would contain bad weather, only for the weekend in fact to turn out to be free of rain,” he said.
Price said the forecasts carry a great deal of weight for potential visitors.
“People listen avidly to weather forecasts and plan accordingly, but with the high cost of petrol and the recession limiting the amount people can spend, if the weather is predicted to be bad they now stay at home.”
Price did not name a specific meteorologist or forecaster in his claim.
Met Office spokeswoman Sarah Holland noted that the forecast for Easter from the Met Office was “cold but dry.”
“The Met Office has worked with the tourist industry in recent years to provide detailed forecasts for resorts, beaches and attractions with local forecasts for up to 5,000 locations across the UK,” Holland said.
Attorney Irwin Mitchell claims that in order for a weather forecaster to be “negligent” there has to be a breach in duty.
“Obviously there was no contract with any weather station in the first place, and nor would there ever be with a member of the public, or broadcasters would never predict the weather again,” he said.
Despite sympathizing with weather prediction as “not an exact science,” Price says it can have an adverse impact on the Welsh economy.
“My legal team is looking to see if these predictions by weather experts can be given more of a ‘health warning’ as to their accuracy and if compensation can be claimed for Welsh tourism operators when forecasts are completely wrong,” Price said.