Unfortunately, meteorologists have to enjoy unenviable reputation worldwide
Weather forecasters have always been criticized for their frequent false predictions of weather. The majority of people are used to treating meteorological forecasts rather cautiously: a promised day of sunshine would often bring pouring rain or heavy snowfall depending on the time of the year. Incorrect weather forecasts can result in immense financial losses for many countries. Japan practices a system of penalties and fines, which they use to punish an unprofessional or a wrong weather forecast. There are no such rules in Russia: the Russian authorities do not punish either meteorologists or those, who carry responsibility for efficient solutions of the problems that arise from natural cataclysms.
The winter of 2004-2005 became a very long cold season in Russia. March, which is generally perceived as the beginning of spring, could actually be compared to a freezing winter month, like January. The recent Russian winter was characterized with anomalous weather changes: it was too warm in December and there was too much snow in January. European citizens also had a chance to experience some of winter surprises: hurricanes that swept across Europe just a couple of months ago were capable of overturning trucks on the roads. Extremely heavy snowfalls paralyzed major transport highways in Russia. The traditionally freezing weather in Siberia was interrupted with astounding periods of spring warmth, when trees started preparing to open their buds.
Human beings have not yet learned how to gain the absolute power over nature: people still do not know how to predict weather whims. Modern scientists have to acknowledge that it is almost impossible to give a precise weather forecast. The director of the Russian geophysical observatory of the Russian Meteorological Service, A.Voyeikov, says that the process of making a weather forecast for Russia, the USA, Europe and Canada is much more complicated in comparison with other states. “Atmospheric processes are not stable on these territories, and cyclones may occur absolutely incidentally,” Voyeikov said.
Unfortunately, meteorologists have to enjoy unenviable reputation worldwide. Even Japanese weather forecasters can make serious mistakes from time to time, despite the easier weather modeling, substantial funding and latest technological developments. The Japanese government, however, imposes regular fines on local weather specialists for incorrect forecasts.
Russia does not have a similar system of “weather fines.” Heavy snowfalls paralyzed federal highways, such as St.Petersburg-Murmansk and Moscow-Rostov at the end of January of the current year. Weather does not make the only point of the problem, though. Local officials do not take any measures to prepare their regions for a possible natural disaster, whereas the federal government does fund the reconstruction of major transport thoroughfares of the country.
The Russian EMERCOM draws up official forecasts of states of emergency every year. There are huge budgetary funds involved, as well as forces of serious ministerial departments: the Ministry for Transport, the Ministry for Agriculture, the Ministry for Nature, the Construction Agency, the Energetic Agency, etc. However, such an expensive document does not match the reality.
There was a great number of forecasts made for the winter of 2004-2005, but only two of them proved to be truthful: numerous breakdowns on power lines, heat and water supplying systems, and the fact that Russia's Far North and Far East suffered from a strong lack of fuel. All other points of EMERCOM's forecast did not come true.
It is about time mankind should acknowledge its inability to envisage weather changes and control the will of nature.