Jo Nova: telling porkies about BoM rainfall predictions

Should we really be surprised that deniers cherry pick data and distort the truth? 

In addition to her usual war on science, Jo Nova frequently attacks the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). 

In today’s post produces a predicted rainfall map produced by the BoM on August 24 2010 for the September-November period contrasted with actual recorded rainfall. In her mind it proves BoM can’t get it right:


Shocking! How much more wrong could the BoM be!  Says outraged Nova :

How many billions have we lost thanks to farmers who might have been able to harvest early, or plant different crops, or avoid seeding in droughts, or any one of a thousand other choices that would help them to make the most of our highly variable climate.

Oh wait, there is something she neglects to tell her readers…

I’m sure alert readers of this blog now what she’s done.  

Nova neglects to show us is the forecasts made following this August outlook which actually predict wetter conditions for most of Australia.

Here is their prediction released on 22 September 2010. 

And the map:  


BoM state:

Wetter conditions favoured for most of Australia

The Australian rainfall outlook for the December quarter (October to December) favours wetter than average conditions over large parts of the continent, with strongest odds across northern Australia. The October to December outlook is the result of warm conditions in the Indian Ocean and cool conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, both of which are associated with the current La Niña event.

Probabilities versus observed rainfall

BoM refined their predictions in light of new data and observing trends, standard practice. Nova’s post is a gross mischaracterization of BoM’s predictions.  

More importantly, the BoM predictions indicate probabilities for increased (or decreased) rain, not actual predicted rainfall. It’s a subtle and important difference and means the BoM was actually correct in stating in there was an increased chance for wetter conditions in parts of Australia.  

She is employing a standard trick of all anti-science movements: asking the impossible of science. Predictions about future events are made with a certain level of confidence, and then refined as more data is available. Between August and September, BoM refined their predictions.

It took me less than two minutes to check this information.

An “honest’ oversight on Nova’s behalf? 

You be the judge…

12 thoughts on “Jo Nova: telling porkies about BoM rainfall predictions

  1. fredorth says:

    Way too easy!

    • Nick says:

      Way too easy indeed! Ignoring the September outlook was stoopid enough, but to ignore the BOM October outlook-though it has a month to go- was even more feckless.

  2. Nick says:

    The nitwit echo-chamber of Oz denialism is passing this stuff around at the moment. All they reveal is that they do not understand what probabalisitic forecasting is and how its done. If some of them do,they are determined not to let any of their conga line know.

  3. EoR says:

    Where are Jo Nova’s predictions? Or doesn’t she have the courage of her delusions?

  4. Typical.. The sad thing is, many of her readership wouldn’t have the foggiest understanding and will only go on to discredit BoM unreasonably.
    That said, I’m not really sure if she actually realises that she made a mistake or not – many of her conclusions demonstrate some fundamental lapses of understanding.

  5. Sou says:

    Hard to know if Nova is just another Akerman or Bolt, who I suspect don’t believe anything they write (they are paid to incite hatred and disinform the ignorant, it’s their job), or if she is not quite right in the head. If you take her writing at face value, it’s the latter. From her behaviour, I think it’s a bit of both.

    Neither does she know anything at all about farming, going by the quote above.

    I doubt she has any influence. The only people who follow her are whacko conspiracy theorists. They’d find another home if she disappeared.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Indeed, I read her comments about farming and thought “what the?” So a wheat farmer is going to switch to corn? And which crops would survice flooding? Hey, maybe they should have planted rice and wait for the flood waters to do the trick? Or farmers build a huge wall around their fields? Sure, there are some mitigation strategies… but really.

  6. JG says:

    Curiously, almost exactly the same thing is happening in the UK, with Nigel Lawson’s denialist “Global Warming Policy Foundation” challenging the Met Office’s “prediction” of a mild winter and ignoring its later “prediction” of a harsh one:

    The similarity goes right down to the GWPF’s misrepresenting probabilistic assessments to the public as cast-iron predictions, with the Met trying patiently to explain the difference while the GWPFers strut around in a froth of faux outrage and bombast.

  7. […] people die or lose everything they have, the climate change Deniers want to quibble semantics. The flooding is exactly what was predicted and is completely consistent with climate science, but […]

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