back to article BBC storm cockup: Wrong day's shipping forecast read

Proof, if it were needed, that voice in general and the BBC in particular are foolish ways to transmit important information was provided by Radio 4 earlier this month when an announcer read out the shipping forecast for the wrong day - during one of the stormiest weekends of the year. Parts of the first shipping forecast …


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  1. James McGregor

    Island weather

    I live on a small inner Hebridean island (that's in Scotland for those south of the Watford Gap) in the Malin sea area and the shipping forecast is frequently the most accurate for determining what the weather is actually going to be like on a given day. Well, how rainy and windy it's going to be at any rate.

    It's certainly better than the Beeb's 5-day forecast on their website, which changes so often for a given day it's more like a slot machine. Still waiting for my "five-suns-in-a-row" payout, mind you. :)

  2. rpjs


    The Shipping Forecast today has nothing to do with providing weather information to mariners, if it ever did. Its actual purpose is to allow Middle England to pretend it's still 1936, and be able to go to sleep secure in the knowledge that for tonight, Johnny Foreigner is being kept from our scepter'd shores by force 7 gales in sea areas Portland, Wight, Dover and Thames.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It beggars belief that they rely on e-mail for something like this.

    1. mccp

      @ AC

      So they should rely on what exactly? Faxes? Internal mail?

  4. AlistairJ
    Thumb Up


    The good ol' shipping forecast is the only beeb weather forecast worth its salt these days. Lets not let this minor incident sink the good ol' girl.

  5. Rob
    Thumb Up

    Love it

    I listen to it if I'm having trouble sleeping, very calming.

  6. Blubster

    Old News

    Talk about old news - this, and a grovelling apology, was covered in the Beeb's Feedback program last week.

    What should attract your attention is what will happen to the shipping forecast when everything goes digital. The SF is broadcast on longwave for a good reason - it reaches out further than the current FM so if it's closed down sailors everywhere will be left high and dry (so to speak)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      and the rest

      The shipping forecast on the beeb ( long wave was 200 mts now 195mts) sorry BBC is used much much more than just shipping, bearing in mind all tax payers (UK) pay for this. The following organizers of

      Fates, Circus, (all tent-age) ,building contractors, bridge builders/ operators, ferry's (sea river, or pond) remote islands and inland rivers and many more.

      All of which cannot receive the VHF bands or will ever be able to receive digital transmitters.

      I for one stuck was on sand bank way out to sea on a falling tide, had to make a decision call for help or listen to the forecast first ,I listened to the only one available the BBC (LW) I trusted the forecast of falling winds stayed put and lifted of on the next tide.

      Not ever again if the BEEB can make such a mistake, ( Yes I made the biggest mistake getting stuck)

      I would call for help expense not spared, I do not trust any MP, now I do not trust the BEEB what next mothers?

      Oh sad Sad SAD world.

      1. Onionman

        Happened before

        Many years ago - probably about 15 years ago, I was out early and listening to the shipping forecast in the car. The guy reading it (I think it was Brian Perkins) sounded more and more worried as he read it, then there was the sound of paper being rustled and he said "That appears to be yesterday's forecast I'm reading". He then read the right one in the time left, about a minute.

        So, it's happened before.

        Then again, I've been known to make the odd mistake at work; mine just don't get the same publicity.


  7. JBR
    Thumb Down


    yeah but no but... longwave is cheap, reliable, proven and penetrates to all areas of the British Isles. You try getting good reliable mobile internet outside built up areas!

    I'd trust an established broadcaster to manage the service, and a scientific service to supply the data- I dunno BBC and met office combo maybe?

    How hard can it be to read out the right bit of paper?

  8. Chris 3

    Thank goodness...

    ....that neither the Coast Guard nor the Met Office are susceptible to human error.

  9. ThomasF
    Big Brother

    Paradox in reverse perhaps

    In the new BBC Flash Forward Copy/Rip Off - Paradox - JPG's are flooding in from the future via a very violent and angry Mayan Sun lookalike.

    The new Radio show could be warning of violent storms from the Past called perhaps


    But will it catch on. If you don't want to hear last weeks Football results close your ears now:=]

    Or maybe that is why we have FreeView:+/

    The Past is out there!

  10. Steen Hive
    Thumb Up

    Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger

    As a young child growing up on the Scottish coast, I'd listen to the late shipping forecast on a tranny under my pillow while tucked up in bed. There was something fascinating about that authoritative RP voice on the dark, stormy nights, imagining what horrors there were out at sea - all the while safely ensconced in a warm bed.

    "980, falling more slowly" - pure gold.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The point is ...

    The Shipping Forecast is sheer poetry and is a wonderful way to fall asleep.

  12. Tim Wolfe-Barry

    Come on Lewis...

    I like most of your articles, but I have to take issue with this...

    Firstly; Most amateur yachtsmen use the Shipping Forecast for longer passages - the inshore forcast is no use if you're sailing to Ireland or across the Channel.

    Secondly; The late-night and early morning forecasts INCLUDE the inshore waters forecast (the coastguard re-broadcast the BBC one!) so presumably the wrong inshore forecast was read at the same time.

    I know you've been playing with bigger boats than most of us and have lots of lovely electronics to work with, but remember how unreliable all those gizmos can be when you're beating to windward in 30kts - I've used an old battery transistor radio to get the forecast on-deck when most of the ship's kit was soaked!

  13. Christopher Rogers

    @ rpjs

    Whats wrong with that?

  14. Chris Phillips

    Get it orf

    Scrap it anyway, stop interrupting TMS! I might miss someone scratching there arse at Long Off when it's on!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oban to Tiree

    When I last travelled from Oban to Tiree - the first thing I heard on boarding the ship was the shipping forecast. Yep, ships do use it.



  16. The Indomitable Gall

    Lewis's CV

    Funny how Lewis's career summary changes to match the weather^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hstory.

  17. 3G

    out of date

    I was listening to this the other day and think how old fashioned and pointless it all sounded.

    It's inefficient to broadcast a report that is specific to a very narrow audience across a public broadcast system.

    It's only broadcast at specified times, and only applies to a very narrow set of people. Most ships and boats already have systems on board or communications radios which could be used for these things.

    I think it's about time to kill it off personally.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Damn right! You say it like it's a bad thing...

  19. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Blame the Beeb as this seems like a cock up. But the Met office, with all of their publicly funded supercomputer prowess only ever seem to get it right when it's glaringly obvious.

    As a yachtsman myself I do listen to the shipping forecast, but primarily as a cross refererence against the MCS forecasts & Navtex; secondarily as I find a very relaxing listen.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you Lewis

    I'm pleased to see Lewis has sufficient time on his hands to cover this important subject, and I do hope it doesn't distract him from the article he is hopefully preparing on the Nimrod inquiry report, which rather startlingly for a Government inquiry report is actually well worth reading (though as its author freely admits, many of its conclusions relating to poor management are the same as those in enquiries going back twenty years or more).

    Until Lewis's article arrives, can I suggest the following reading for starters:

    Editorial in the The Guardian:

    "a devastating tale of a department that has lost its way. The report describes a PowerPoint culture ... that glosses over hard questions and detailed evidence, and sacrifices safety to incompetence, sloppiness, complacency and cynicism."

    "teams ... stricken by "organisational trauma" induced by the overwhelming objective of finding savings."

    The report itself:

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