Is Joe Bastardi the Worst Long-Range Forecaster Ever?

Many of the key Arctic sea ice records fell this year (see “Record Low Sea Ice Volume, Area and Extent*).


In short, the Arctic death spiral continues.

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi has always made nonsensical forecasts like “The coming cooling of the planet overall will return it to where it was in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.” No doubt that’s a key reasons he is no longer AccuWeather’s chief long-range forecaster.  But before he left, Bastardi made a prediction that reveals how his anti-scientific views destroy his forecasting credibility.

On September 20, 2010, Bastardi predicted that Arctic Sea Ice extent would return to 2005 levels:  “We are going to recover dramatically here with a cold that is coming over the next 9 to 12 months“!

I know you are wondering where that cold was (see “Third Hottest Summer Globally, Second Warmest for U.S. With Stunning Weather Extremes, Texas Drought Worst in Centuries“).  And for those who find it hard to believe anyone could have made such a ridiculous forecast, let’s go to the videotape [put on those head vises]:

Now Bastardi is safely ensconsed at one of the most extreme, anti-scientist organizations in the world, the “American Tradition Institute.”

He also regularly appears on Fox News, inducing many climatologists to explain he is “completely wrong” and “does not understand the very basics of the science.”

Yet he also landed at WeatherBell, a weather consulting firm, where he is “Chief Forecaster.”  To ensure no one would take them seriously, WeatherBell also hired another well-known science denier Joseph D’Aleo as “Chief Forecaster.”

Seriously, how consistently wrong does a forecaster have to be before people stop paying attention?

h/t Neven of the Arctic Sea Ice Blog

21 Responses to Is Joe Bastardi the Worst Long-Range Forecaster Ever?

  1. Mauri Pelto says:

    It is worth noting in the video that Bastardi announces he will soon be heading to Bastrop, TX for a presentation. He was 12 months early for the fires that would char this region after a drought and heat wave he did not see.

  2. Aaron Lewis says:

    Not really, as of AR4, the peer reviewed literature said that we only see short term Arctic Sea Ice melt events, with recovery after each melt event. AR4 was not that long ago.

    Even within the last year, the community models suggested sea ice recovery. If the folks at NCAR can publish such things —

    Science has done a terrible job of explaining what we can expect as a result of what science can prove (and publish).

    Given the long term time lags in the Arctic Ice, I cannot see that much difference between Bastardi’s position and the language in AR4. The real problem is that the plain language of AR4 was wrong.

    Science needs to stand up and plead “mea maxima culpa”.

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    Last year Joe predicted a return to the levels in Septmeber 2011 seen pre 2007. What has happened?

    C02 and its relentless progress in the atmosphere continues- unabated.

  4. Peter Mizla says:

    really? In what alternative reality?

  5. Mike says:

    Bastardi is just another in a long line of so-called experts selling pseudo science to the conservative media. As a semi-celebrity meteorologist he was OK; as a TV pundit he’s right up there with beck and the rest of the nutjobs.

  6. caerbannog says:

    I wonder who keeps Weatherbell afloat financially? I couldn’t imagine that D’Aleo and Bastardi would attract enough legitimate paying customers, given their proven on-line track-record of incompetence and all-around hackery.

    BTW, a Tour de Force display of D’Aleo’s incompetence can be found in this document that he coauthored:

    That document is full of blunders that a college freshman could pick apart.

    Given D’Aleo’s and Bastardi’s long electronic trail of completely incompetent and unprofessional conduct, what sort of paying customers is that outfit going to attract?

    I mean, have a look at Weatherbell’s team bio:

    The people/qualifications listed there are completely underwhelming.

    I mean, who is going to hire these guys? It would be easy to find much better talent out there looking for work, especially in this economy.

    I can’t help but wonder if Weatherbell was set up as a front organization to provide “wingnut welfare” disguised as legitimate payments for professional meteorological services.

    I’d just *love* to see Weatherbell’s paying client list!

  7. caerbannog says:

    Quick followup — for an excellent example of D’Aleo’s incompetence (or dishonesty?), consider the “dropped stations” claim that much of the paper is devoted to.

    Well, it turns out that proving that the “dropped stations” claim is bogus is basically a college-undergraduate programming project. You simply run the raw GHCN data through a straightforward gridding/averaging program (a program that an on-the-ball engineering/compsci undergraduate could put together) with and without the “dropped stations”. Do that and you will find that both results are very similar to each other and *very similar to the NASA/GISS land-temperature results*.

    Yet D’Aleo couldn’t be troubled to perform this bit of straightforward data analysis before he went out and started publicly accusing climate-scientists of deliberately dropping stations to exaggerate the global-warming trend!

    And *that*, dear readers, is yet another reason not to hire Weatherbell.

  8. Anne van der Bom says:

    Can you please point out where exactly AR4 talks of a recovery?

  9. Anne van der Bom says:


    He also said this on Roy Spencer’s blog:
    “The crashing of global temps over the next year, to levels not seen since the 90s, and perhaps even the earlier part, should put to rest the co2 argument. Since 1998 we have had a 5% increase in co2, since 1993 closer to 7 or 8. If co2 is the driver, its intuitive we have no business seeing the temps go down to those levels.”

    and, in his next comment he’s even proposing a ‘duel’:
    “So the forecast here is we get to the 1999 levels for 2011, and we may even get as low as 1993. Now if its stays this warm and doesnt fall off, then I will be forced to rethink my position ( which I do all the time anyway, as one does not blindly accept anything about the future) Perhaps next year at this time, if we see my forecast being closer than yours, you will at least rethink yours.”

    Let’s ask him if he has already rethought his position, shall we?

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    I agree completely with the comments above about the motivation$ and behavior of Bastardi, et al.

    I would caution people not to fall into the trap, which I hear constantly online, of assuming that they will get their comeuppance once things really hit the fan. The Y2k doomers were about as vocal and strident as one could get, nothing happened on the fateful day, and they just drifted off into other areas.

    In other words — people like Bastardi need to be exposed, as Joe did in the above post, every time they get something this mind-blowingly wrong.

    (And I hasten to add yet again that Y2k was a non-event NOT because it wasn’t a real and very serious problem, but because a lot of people did a heroic job of fixing it before the deadline.)

  11. Interesting Times says:

    Not sure if that analogy applies here – the Y2K people sounded dire warnings about events that didn’t pan out, whereas the climate change deniers are doing the exact opposite – saying there’s nothing to worry about when evidence abounds that there is.

    Note how scientists in Italy are currently on trial for manslaughter, accused of failing to predict a fatal earthquake (a ridiculously BS case for all sorts of reasons, but it does show consequences tend to be crappier for being wrong about a disaster that actually does occur)

  12. John Mashey says:

    Y2K: some not-very-knowledgeable people talked of disaster; a whole lot of professional IT people said there would be various problems if we didn’t do a lot of work to fix them.

    A huge mass of software was reworked, via many staff-millennia, and as a result, there weren’t too many problems. Newer software was generally OK, while it might not have been “disaster” if millions of people’s bank accounts were screwed up for a while, and various inventory systems broken for a bit, it wouldn’t have been pleasant.

  13. Joan Savage says:

    In the competition for all-time worst forecaster are Lansford Hastings or Jim Bridger, each of whom encouraged the Donner party on their disastrous path in 1846 into early snowfalls in the Sierras and eventually a twenty-five foot snow pack.

    For Donner Pass snow fall and snow pack 1879-2010 here’s a graph:

  14. Joan Savage says:

    My anti-favorite among Y2K doomers was a fellow who ran a store of high-tech survival gear and dehydrated food, at very high mark ups.

  15. Anne van der Bom says:

    The Y2k-‘doomers’ are being ridiculed here as if a problem never existed. This is quite hilarious. What’s next? That the ‘ozone hole’ was never a problem. After all, it has stabilized and almost no one ever talks about it.

    Just suppose we manage to cut CO2 emissions and keep climate change into reasonable bounds, what will they say 100 years from now? “Look at those silly climate doomers that predicted the Antarctic ice cap would melt. Ha, it has been increasing in size for the last 25 years!”

    Extremists and opportunists are everywhere and Y2k was simply no exception. But the dire warnings were not fabricated nearly every line of computer code was inspected for possible problems. Iow: the problem was taken seriously and sufficient action was taken. I wish I could say the same of climate change.

  16. MorinMoss says:

    Every year, I see a lot of speculation, wagering and argument about sea ice extent but shouldn’t the focus be more on ice volume?
    The graphic on this post shows a loss of 75% since the ’70s – is there any chance of this recovering? Focusing only on extent can be misleading since windy conditions can either clump ice together or spread it more widely.

  17. Jon says:

    Bastardi and D’Aleo can’t both be Chief Forecaster, can they? Perhaps they ought to have an old fashioned duel for the honour.

  18. Jim Pettit says:

    Because many of my denialist acquaintances are quite fond of quoting Bastardi as though he’s reading from infallible scripture, I’ve made tracking his erroneous “forecasts” a little hobby of mine. It’s not difficult to do; I simply follow him on Twitter, and am therefore treated to several often laughable Bastardi-isms a day.

    For instance: On 8/14, JB tweeted, “August Global temps will start to fall and should be down to .2 above normal from .37 in July” as shown on Roy Spencer’s website. Well, the August numbers came out, and that drop was to 0.33–a decrease of just 0.05, and not the 0.18 Bastardi had predicted. Now, you’d think being off by factor of nearly four to one would humble some people. But not JB.

    Anyway, here’s a good one anyone may follow: Bastardi and D’Aleo predict that 2012 will be ‘the coolest year since the late 1990s’. Of course, we could remind poor Joe that 1998–a year right smack in the middle of the late 1990s–was the warmest ever. But I think it’ll be more fun just to watch him justify his poor excuse for a forecast or, more likely, ignore it.

  19. joe says:

    Exactly. I worked may hours of overtime to change date functions for business systems. Lots of software required Y2K fixes and there were few problems as a result of the investment in prevention.

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    New numbers moving by order of magnitude –

    The temp dropped below 32 on Saturday in Barrow, AK for the first time since June 29th. 85-day streak > 32 is longest on record! Previous record 68 days. The average temperature over the streak was 41.9°. The September average temp has been 5.2 degrees above normal.
    Average first freeze is September 7th in Fairbanks – have not had a freeze yet. This is the 6th year in a row the first freeze has taken place after September 20th.