I saw a response to an RTI request from the Department of Meteorology on Twitter and did not adequately check its veracity. As a result, I unfairly described the forecasting capabilities of the Department in at least one occasion at a meeting attended by influential officials and also polluted Twitterspace. I am sorry.
— Rohan Samarajiva (@samarajiva) June 9, 2017
Above was where I made the mistake. My mistake was that I did not check the date on the RTI response that had been posted:
— Groundviews (@groundviews) June 9, 2017
The downpour that caused all the deaths and devastation occurred on the night of the 25th of May. On the 25th of May, the Department of Meteorology issued an amber advisory entitled “Weather advisory for heavy rainfalls valid for next 48 hours” stating that more than 150 mm of rain was likely. This was significantly below the 553 mm that actually fell. But they did use words like “heavy rainfall” and did not give a number as low as 50 mm, as shown in the Groundviews tweet that showed the May 16th advisory.
Even two days before the event, on the 23rd of May, the Department issued a “Special weather advisory for heavy rainfalls and strong winds” where it warned of “heavy falls (more than 100 mm).”
The May 16th advisory shown by Groundviews had no relevance to the question of the adequacy of the forecasts provided by the Met Department, being issued nine days before the event.
This is not the first time I have erred by placing too much faith in the veracity of tweets from non-professionals. But I have no excuses. Mea culpa. Thank you to the Head of Forecasting at the Department who politely corrected me. I am sorry for the mistake and for taking so long to correct it.