Ouch

Seems I’m not the only person who has been doing a #kenringwatch – the Clare People newspaper has been keeping an eye on the Kiwi cointosser too.  No link to the story (not been able to find the article online) but it merits three minutes of Neil Delamere’s time on the Anton Savage Show, here (starting at 55:30). Ouch.

#kenringwatch results for November, December and 2014!

Happy New Year!  With the old year now over, we can look back at Ken Ring’s final predictions for the winter, his “overall” predictions for the year, and how he did in total.

So the last few predictions – sorry, he’s calling them “suggestions of potential” now – for #kenringwatch 2014, were as follows:

Nov
25. Mild temperatures up to November (1)
26. 19th November, subzeros back (1)

Dec
27. 4th to 9th, first snow of winter (1)
28. No white Christmas, but subzero on the 24th, 25th (1)

How did Mr Ring do?

25. Yes, absolutely, this autumn and winter have been mild.  In fact, Met Éireann tells us “Many stations recorded their highest maximum temperatures for winter in 6 to 15 years. Lowest minimum temperatures were the highest for winter on record at many
stations, Shannon Airport reported its highest minimum for winter in 68 years” (2) 
I might put that down to climate change – Ken would disagree, as would, according to him, most Irish farmers, who are immortal, or something, and know all of this is just cycles

Regardless of the reasoning, though, that’s definitely a point for Ken.

26. Ah, I love these black or white predictions. The Met Éireann report for November tells us that November was “Typical for the time of year, milder at the start of the month.”  That report tells us that the 19th was a perfectly average day for the month – minimum temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees Centigrade, max between 10 and 15.  Certainly not subzero.

November: One for two.

27. The monthly report for December hasn’t been published yet on Met Éireann, which means checking various weather stations for particular dates.  Let’s pick Cork, Dublin, and Shannon Airports, and Malin Head. Checking them each day from the 4th to the 9th, we find:

Cork: Too warm for snow and/or little to no precipitation;
Dublin: Same;
Shannon: Same;
Malin Head: Yes, same.

No snow. No points.

We then got a cold snap and severe winter storm, which Ken didn’t mention. That brought snow – but it didn’t arrive until the 11th, didn’t last long, and only hit a few counties.

28. Ken was correct about no white Christmas, but the lowest temperature recorded over both days at the aforementioned weather stations was 0.8 degrees Centigrade.  Predicting no white Christmas is a banker (it very rarely is), but them’s the breaks.  Half a point.

December: 0.5 for two.

Ken also made two “general” predictions that we couldn’t measure until the year was over:

1. The coming winter (2013/14) won’t be severe (3)
2. No hotter than 25 or 26 degrees at any point in the year (1)

1. Looking back to the Winter 2013/2014 report for this one. The report headline tells us: “Stormy at times; wettest winter on record”.  Under the various headings, it goes into more detail: “Over 50% of stations across the country reported it was the wettest winter on record. Valentia Observatory reported its wettest winter since records began in 1866 (148 years) with 848.0mm and 183% of LTA, while Malin Head reported 530.7mm, 164% of LTA its wettest winter since records began in 1885 (129 years). Shannon Airport had its wettest winter on record (68 years) while Mullingar reported its wettest winter on record (63 years).”  Similarly, for wind speed, we’re told: “Winds were above average for winter with storm force winds on occasions. Dublin Airport’s winter mean windspeed value of 14.4 knots (26 km/h) was its highest since 1943 (71 years), Shannon Airport reported its highest winter mean windspeed in 31 years” and “The highest gust of the season was 86 knots (159 km/h) at Shannon Airport on the 12th February, its highest for winter on record (68 years).” , and “A new record maximum wave of 25 metres was reported at the Kinsale Energy Gas Platform on February 12th.” 

These records were due to the series of severe storms that arrived in January and February, and about which Ken said nothing.  But a picture paints a thousand words:

Lahinch Promenade during January storm

Lahinch promenade during one of January’s storms. Photo by George Karbus, http://www.emerald-vision.com/

Zero points.

2. Most annual highest maxima were recorded during July. The year’s highest temperature
was 31.0°C recorded at Dooks, Co Kerry on Saturday, July 19th, the stations second
highest maximum since it opened in 1997.  Five degrees higher than predicted – so, zero points.

“Overall” category: Zero for two.

Total for the year: Seven for twenty-eight. 25% accuracy, exactly.

Ken Ring claims 80% to 85% accuracy, but it turns out that when you record his predictions, and check back, then being generous, he’s right one time in four, on average.  Half as accurate as a coin-toss.

Conclusions:

1) Moon and tides are of no use whatsoever in predicting the weather.

2) Spending €50 plus postage and packing for an almanac that’s right (presumably) one time in four would not appear to be a good investment.

“It’s just a bit of harmless fun” is sometimes repeated by reputable journalists as a reason for allowing Ken Ring to use their publication or programme to publicise his almanac.  Well, he can’t be done under the Trade Descriptions Act (or else Old Moore’s Almanac would be out of business) – but he is selling his pseudoscience “predictions” at €50 a shot and claims to be selling 1,000 a year.  Which would be great if it was accurate, but not when the accuracy is only half as good as a coin-toss.  In my opinion, file under crank, snake-oil, or charlatan.  If you must invite him on to your show to fill a slow news day, then also invite on a pseudoscience skeptic, or a spokesman from Met Éireann. I suggest Evelyn Cusack.

Source: RTE Player screengrab via thejournal.ie

Source: RTE Player screengrab via thejournal.ie

Sources:

(1) http://www.todayfm.com/player/podcasts/The_Last_Word_with_Matt_Cooper/The_Last_Word_with_Matt_Cooper/8455/0/ken_rings_2014_weather_predictions

(2) http://www.met.ie/climate/MonthlyWeather/clim-2014-win.pdf 

(3) http://www.radiokerry.ie/news/new-zealand-weather-forecaster-predicts-a-typical-irish-winter/

#kenringwatch results for September

The number of views on here has shot up recently. Wondering why, I googled, and yep, Ken Ring has released his “almanac” for next year (at a mere €51 incl. P&P) and the usual suspects published his press releases, with few (or no) questions asked. Which led to more people googling for him, and the happy side effect that many people are finding out the truth about his accuracy, by landing here. Which is good.

Interesting question, though – if the moon is the be all and end all when it comes to weather prediction (as claimed by Ring), then why not just release your prediction algorithm into the public domain? After all – we know exactly where the moon is going to be, pretty much forever. So, in the 21st century, why release a paper almanac, once a year, when you could just release an app?

Wait… it wouldn’t be all about parting credulous people from their money, would it…?

Anyway – #kenringwatch results for September! Ken’s predictions were:

Sep
22. 8th to 30th, no rain anywhere
23. 22 to 23 degrees, more in the 3rd week
24. Not much sunshine except last week

How did he do? Well, using Met Éireann’s report for the month, we find:

22. “Monthly rainfall totals were below average everywhere… Low rainfall totals in parts of the South, Southwest and West were due to a period of absolute drought (a period of 15 or more consecutive days with less than 0.2 mm) between the 1st and 21st, with most of these stations reporting their driest September at least 28 years.”  So, although it did indeed rain between the 8th and 20th, I think it’d be churlish to not give Ken a mark for this one.

23. A very specific prediction here – a rarity for Ken.  Met Éireann: “The month’s highest temperature was 23.9°C at Shannon Airport (on the 4th), its highest since 2004 (10 years)… Highest mean monthly temperature: 15.7°C at Valentia Observatory (its warmest September since 1991).”  The handy chart on their monthly report shows that although September was bright and dry, unfortunately, it wasn’t very warm. And it got distinctly cooler in the third week, when Ken thought it’d be getting even warmer. Zero marks.

24. “Sunshine totals were all near or above average with the percentage of average values ranging from 95% at Casement Aerodrome to 144% at Valentia Observatory. Valentia Observatory was the sunniest place, recording over 166 hours of sunshine and its sunniest September since 1972 (42 years). The month’s sunniest day was the 10th at Belmullet with 12.3 hours, it sunniest September day since 1969 (45 years). Number of dull days (days with a high amount of cloud cover recording less than 0.5 hours of sunshine) was up to eight at Casement Aerodrome and Knock Airport.”  So, yeah, bright and sunny.  Zero marks.

September: One for three.

Total: 5.5 out of 21.  26% accuracy – the average continues to rise!

#kenringwatch results for June, July and August!

#kenringwatch is like waiting on a bus – nothing for ages, then three come along at once. Results for June, July and August are finally here – apologies for the delay.

In related news, Jamie points out in the comments on the May results post that Ken Ring is actually less accurate than a coin toss.  His work is available on the Silly Beliefs website – where an article on Ring’s pseudoscience has resulted in over 550 comments being posted!

Those comments are an interesting read… disappearing posts after the fact, other major misses, and failures to predict major events.  But then that’s only to be expected.

Ring has also popped up again recently in the comments to my original 2014 #kenringwatch post, where he says:

“I have also had a fair degree of success for this year with my Ireland almanac. I said no records would be broken this year and no extreme events would be likely.”

 

He forgot Christine and her sisters… the most severe storms to hit Ireland in years. Or that his accuracy for 2014’s Irish weather predictions is currently languishing at 20%.

Anyway – June, July, August. The predictions were:

Jun
19. Last week of June the hottest.

Jul
20. Last week of July the hottest.

Aug
22. Lot of wet days interspersed with dry days.

So, two easily testable predictions, and one completely vague one.

June: “The majority of highest maxima were recorded between the 16th and 18th during the mid-month period of high pressure, with the highest maximum of 27.1°C recorded at Newport, Co. Mayo on the 17th.” Zero marks.

July: “Nearly all highest maxima were recorded between the 23rd and 25th, with the month’s highest temperature recorded at Carlow (Oak Park) on the 25th with 27.6°C.” Ooh, close – the 25th is seven days from the end of the month, so one of the hottest days was technically within the last week. Let’s be generous and give half a mark.

August: How do you interpret “Lots of wet days interspersed with dry days”? The Met Éireann monthly report has a one-line summary: “Dry in parts but extremely wet in the East; cool everywhere ”  Other stations in the Dublin area and at Mullingar reported their wettest August days in 28 to 64 years, with rainfall analysis of their 24-hour totals reporting the events to have rainfall return periods of between five and 20 years. Dublin Airport, in the east had 20 rain days, 11 with no rain. Claremorris, in the west, had 26 rain days, only 5 with no rain.  So, certainly, “lots of wet days” is correct. I think Ken gets this one.  But it would have been nice if he’d said “Wettest August in years!”

June, July, August: One and a half for three.

Total: Four and a half out of eighteen.

We’re up to 25% accuracy!

#kenringwatch results for May

I should have written about the local and European elections. I should have written about the Tuam babies outrage – and the lack of coverage in the traditional media about the issue.  I should have written about a lot of things – but I’ve been busy, and lazy, and busy again. Apologies.  Must try harder.

And instead I find myself writing about Ken Ring again. We last heard from Ken when I posted the April results, where he accused me of lying. He’s not been back yet to retract, or apologise.  Oh well. I didn’t lose any sleep over it.

He’s back in the news again. Denis O’Brien’s newspaper published an unchallenged puff piece on Tuesday.  The predictions listed largely agree with what he’s published or said elsewhere.  And apparently Ken “collects regular data from several weather monitoring stations which he has positioned around Ireland.”  Selling the old almanacs must be lucrative, so – I just have to rely on the daily data collections published on Met Éireann.

The Irish Times followed that up with a piece on Thursday – though as that article talks about a seemingly upcoming appearance on The Saturday Night Show (the season is long over) and Evelyn Cusack’s attack on long range weather prediction quacks, from December, it’s possible the “paper of record” was too busy not writing about the Tuam Babies to come up with a new piece, and just regurgitated something.

So Ken – who predicts that 80% of earthquakes take place in 80% of the month – how did we do in May?

May
16. Lots of sun, 14th to 20th/21st (1)
17. Snow 30th May (1)
18. 3rd week of may, very cold (subzero?) temperatures (1)

Using my er, Met Éireann’s nationwide network of weather stations, handily compiled into a report, we find:

“Sunshine totals were all below average with percentage of LTA values and total sunshine hours ranging from 56% and
98.7 hours at Knock Airport, its dullest on record since the station opened in 1996 to 91% and 173.0 hours at Belmullet.
Casement Aerodrome reported 61% of its LTA with 112.7 hours and its dullest May on record since the station opened
in 1964 (50 years). The month’s sunniest day was recorded at Belmullet on the 28th with 15.5 hours, equalling its
sunniest May day on record since 1957 (57 years). The number of dull days (less than 0.5 hours of sun.”

The 14th to 21st was average for the month (i.e., dull) – the last week was the sunniest.

Snow on the 30th? Just lol.

3rd week of May the coldest? The chart for max temperatures shows us that the highest temperature in the month occurred in the third week. The first, second, and fourth weeks seem coldest, according to the chart, with the third week being the second-warmest.

So, not a good month for Ken.

May: Zero for three.

Total: Three out of fifteen.

That’s down to 20% accuracy.

 

#kenringwatch results for April

Your friendly local #kenringwatch correspondent has finally cracked it.  Ken Ring? He’s Ned bloody Stark!  It’s the only logical explanation.

Ken Ring is coming!

“February? Snowy! March: snow! April? It’ll snow. May’s gonna have snow!”

Ken, like Ned Stark, is all about the “Winter is coming!” this year, and has predicted snow for the first five months of the year. Like the doubting Southerners of Westeros, I’ve gone “Pshaw!” and mostly been right.  Maybe Ken will be proven right next month.  Because unfortunately he didn’t manage it this month, either.

Our predictions for April were:

Apr
14. Subzero(!) temperatures finish around April 19th
15. Snow 22nd April

On April 19th, we got invaded by Wildlings from north of the wall!  Well, north of the Bull Wall.  And they weren’t Wildlings, they were Vikings!  The 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf was on Wednesday 23rd, and there was a re-enactment of the battle in St. Anne’s Park in Raheny on April 19th (subzero temperatures).

There are some rather awesome photos of the event here and here and especially here!

As you can tell from those photos – there was no snow.

I got sunburnt.

April 22nd?  The week as a whole, including yesterday was sunny, mild, with the odd shower. Or extremely wet and windy, if you were in Cork yesterday.  But no snow. Winter is still coming.

April: Zero for two.
Total:Three out of twelve.

 

#kenringwatch results for March.

Overall it’s been a relatively quiet month, weather-wise. Eircom, up to this week, still had about 4,000 homes still without phone lines after the storms that Ken Ring didn’t predict last month, there was a 2.2 magnitude earthquake that nobody cares about Ken predicting or not, and there were some rather spectacular lenticular clouds.

Lenticular "UFO" clouds were widespread on 15th March. Photo Tricia Long/Irish Weather Online
Lenticular “UFO” clouds were widespread on 15th March. Photo Tricia Long/Irish Weather Online

Ken Ring’s predictions for March finished yesterday (unless, of course, you pay for his almanac, which has predictions for every day of the year and which he promises is approximately 85% accurate).  The predictions were:

Mar
12. March 3rd to 7th, possible light snow flurries in midlands
13. Same around 19th and 20th

I can find no evidence of snow around the 3rd to 7th March, in the midlands or elsewhere. Misty, foggy, showery, sunny spells – the usual, pretty much – but quite mild for the most part.

Yesterday, the 21st March, started out lovely and sunny and got progressively worse.  As I drove to Dublin in absolute lashings of rain, bemused at the number of people who don’t think to put on lights while driving in severely reduced visibility, the radio reported sleet in Achill – and snow in Donegal!

No snow in the midlands, no snow on the 19th or 20th, but in the comments on earlier posts, Ken complains that I’m taking him too literally and his predictions actually mean possibly a day or two to either side (which is kind of opposite to the purpose of an almanac promising 85% accuracy per day…) – so in deference to Ken, we’ll give him a point for prediction #13.

March:One for two.
Total:Three out of ten.