Meteo France forecaster slams amateur weather forecasts

On the 7th July 2009 the rescue services in Chamonix ran 25 missions to recover climbing groups trapped by bad weather. For Yan Giezendanner, Meteo France forecaster in Chamonix, poor quality forecasts made by amateur websites are partly to blame.

In the interview with TV Mountain Yan makes it clear that the website, which is regularly consulted by climbers and is even posted in tourist offices, has nothing to do with Meteo France. He says that amateur forecasts have neither the means nor the training and that the forecasts are incomplete and that users risk using poor information. Most of the forecasts are based on American weather data available online which, according to Yan, is nowhere near the quality of the information available to Meteo France.

Yan seems particularly irked by a recent study of weather websites in Montagnes Magazine which rated Meteo France behind the amateur sites. Yan points out that the majority of free websites use graphics for their forecasts which are open to interpretation, he calls the information “extremely dangerous”. He notes that there had been a sharp decline in deaths over the last 30 years due to climbers getting caught out by poor weather forecasts, a situation which has been reversed, in his opinion, since the arrival of amateur weather sites.

Full interview on TV mountain: (link in French)

(thanks to for the heads-up on this story).

Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 22 July, 2009 at 04:54 PM

Hi Brian

Always happy to publish alternative viewpoints or clarifications. If you think the comment system doesn’t give them enough prominence you can either write a new article or email me you thoughts,


Posted by davidof on  Friday, 24 July, 2009  at 09:07 PM

we all know where Meteo-France stands(incorporating France into the main name) and appreciate a lot what Chamonix-Meteo is doing.
i vote Cham-meteo everyday-very user friendly and straight forward.
Actually now I am using only this site for weather need for the Meteo.
You guessed who is the winner on here.


Posted by  on  Friday, 24 July, 2009  at 09:23 PM

As far as I understand from the article, Yan is simply speculating that there is a link between increased availability of (what he refers to as) amateur on-line weather forecasts and rescues of groups trapped by bad weather.

Others clearly disagree.

Surely the way to answer this is to ask all groups rescued which weather forecasting service they used, and then analyse the data to see if there is a statistically significant correlation.

If he’s serious about reducing risk and saving lives, he should follow the data…

Posted by  on  Saturday, 25 July, 2009  at 03:01 PM

Another support to ...

One big advantages of their forecast, not unlike others like Michel Caplains’s one , is that they are very accurate on uncertainties in their forecast.
Thanks to the ensemble forecast MF can give the 1-5/5 trust rating, but again it’s a bit like comparing the information given by the free MF pictograms to the one given by free forecasts such as these…

And once again, if weather forecast was as critical for climber’s safety, why not distribute it?

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 04 August, 2009  at 05:17 PM

Seems I’ve inverted my main sources of informations here, sorry, the former comment applies more to .

Still no reason to bash : even if they lack this level of information, they’re still quite accurate and generally correct.

Posted by Nicolas on  Tuesday, 04 August, 2009  at 05:27 PM
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