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 think the following has been put with mistake:
‘’.....He notes that there had been a sharp decline in deaths over the last 30 years due to ‘’poor’’(SHOULD BE ‘’GOOD’’wink forecasts, a situation which has been reversed, in his opinion, since the arrival of amateur weather sites.....

As with anything to do with forecasting based of past trends , graphs and still never-100%-correct-information, doesn’t matter who gives what forecast in my opinion.
You should check the sky , pull a wet thumb out, look for the obvious signs etc.
If you are taking very high mountain hikes you should check as many sites as possible as well and kind of average it.
The general trends will appear soon (weather going bad or on the up).
Some weather part-time sites are having forecast just to attract traffic/clients but still have to give not Mickey Mouse forecast or based on some kind of witchcrafting, but some based on something real-weather charts and trends.
It is easy to look into the popular meteo sites, copy the general thends use predictions the right way and Bingo.
Anyway, for more than a day or two to forecast it is still guess work with the major computers and calculations or not.
There is nothing to guarantee METEO FRANCE is correct.
It is easy to blame someone after.

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 22 July, 2009  at 09:07 PM

The sharp decline in deaths up to few years ago and now the increase is down to the fact that more and more people, without any training or knowledge are trying to venture high in the mountain well unprepared unfit, supplied with new gear(fat skis, light gear, avalanche detectors etc) which fools them into taking far too many risks on their own.
The mountain is above us all and we should be respecting it all the time when visiting it. cool smile

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 22 July, 2009  at 09:13 PM

why isn’t the meteo france mountain forecast free to all??? to me the problem is that meteo france continues to charge for this service, so climbers are forced to find mountain specific foreasts on the free sites.  i find it scandalous that meteo france, taxpayer funded, charges for it’s high mountain forecast, and they legally pursue anyone that attempts to copy and distribute such forecasts.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 23 July, 2009  at 09:55 AM

He, Yan, can say what he wants but last years Meteociel was almost always spot on for the weather forecast (24 hours) and meteo France was really bad (for the Ecrins range). Like yesterday and today, they predicted ‘good’ weather, and now it is rainy and heavily clouded… (the whole day)
And like Colin says, why is Meteo France not free and how is it possible that a tax-payed organisation has such a bad (ads etc) website. It’s a shame…


Posted by  on  Thursday, 23 July, 2009  at 02:38 PM

Who is I’ve happily used this website for years, combined with and looking out of the window. I’ve always been very happy.

Posted by endlessride on  Thursday, 23 July, 2009  at 04:17 PM
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