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

i have found in the past snow-forecast to be reasonably precise and free for up to 3 days ahead, although why they want payment for 6 days forecast when everybody knows that going 3 or more days is just like gambling.It should be reverse the longer the forecast the less viable so should be free.The knowledge of the long live locals is to be taken into account and I always rely on them when venturing high but checking some FREE websites prepare for the worst of the possibhle weather and go.

Another issue with Meteo France is this:
if for argument’s sake you pay them to see what is going to be the forecast for the next 24hr and relying solely on their forecast when starting, but noticing the weather is drastically different??
Will you ask them to refund your money immediately and would they?
I dont think so.
Weather Forecast should be FREE the sooner Meteo France gets it the better. Like most of the news --free to air and maybe if you want very very detailed forecast for something, then maybe to pay(but who wants that? Nobody!

Posted by  on  Thursday, 23 July, 2009  at 04:42 PM

Thanks for the comment Miro, I’ve changed the wording to (hopefully) make things clearer.

Yan has attracted a lot of comment on the French websites such as Skitour. Not very favourable to be honest. I think there is a general point of people heading up into the mountains, especially high summits, when the weather forecast is good, but as the French say

“Qui regarde la météo, passe sa journée au bistrot”


Yan should maybe compare Meteo France’s free sevice (which uses pictogrammes) with the other websites. I think the free websites do well in this context.

It would be nice if Meteo France put more information online like the Americans do

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 23 July, 2009  at 08:40 PM

Or the Met Office in the UK , they used to charge for this but it’s free now. The Paragliding “lot” use all sorts of high tech looking free sites.

Posted by endlessride on  Thursday, 23 July, 2009  at 08:46 PM is put out by a local expert that lives in Chamonix full time and is super passionate about what he does, not to mention very well trained, well informed, and having the local knowledge that even Meteo France lacks. I would certainly not call him “amateur” and his forecast in my experience is hands down the most accurate forecast for Chamonix Valley.

This is all about money - Meteo France would love a way to get more people to pay for their forecasts and doesn’t want any competition. But advertising-supported information benefits everybody involved, and the basis of free market economy is that competition leads to fair prices and better quality in the long run.

I encourage to review my comments and integrate them into this blog entry since simply translating Meteo France’s position from another source has led to an unfairly biased version of the story, perhaps unknowingly to the authors!

Brian Birtle

Posted by  on  Friday, 24 July, 2009  at 02:20 PM

Chamonix-Meteo definitely gets my vote, I wonder how many people rely on him. Very many I suspect.

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