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Weather Forecasters Face Jail For Getting It Wrong

Mediocre meteorologists mindful of meltdown

Weather Forecasters Face Jail For Getting It Wrong
Danielle de Wolfe
17 January 2012

How many times in the past year have you been forced to shake an exasperated fist in the direction of inept weather forecasters? Promising us rain when all we get is unbroken sunshine - don’t they know we were baking in our hiking get-up?

Well, in South Africa they’ve taken an admittedly excessive step in attempting to eradicate false forecasts. New legislation means that those who issue inaccurate or hoax weather warnings could face jail.

The South African Weather Service says anyone wanting to issue a severe warning has to get permission to do so. The measures, which have been branded draconian by opponents, even extend to members of the public who ring up radio stations and predict flash floods, droughts, bush fires and the like.

Officials say the bill will protect the public from erroneous predictions that "could cause public panic and lead to evacuations and/or the unwarranted waste of resources – money, people and technology."

First-time offenders risk incurring five years inside or a £400,000 ($614,000) fine, while serial mischief makers could face 10 years imprisonment or a £800,000 ($1.2m) fine.

We wonder what Michael Fish – he of no storm in 1987 fame – would make of the law. Probably wiping his brow.

Image: Rex