Awards rain down on weather observers

30 10 2012

Last week, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Met office honoured some unsung heroes, as Scotland’s longest serving rainfall observers were presented with awards at a ceremony in Glasgow.

The event hosted at the city’s Royal Concert Hall saw 14 volunteers, from across the country, recognised for their long term contributions to data collection for the national rainfall archive.

SEPA and the Met Office honoured a group of unsung heroes as Scotland’s longest serving rainfall observers were presented with their awards in Glasgow.

The volunteers measure rainfall on a daily basis and send the accumulated figures to SEPA to be included in its database and the Met Office rainfall archive.

The observers have clocked up an impressive 509 years service between them!

Among those honoured included Peter Kennedy who has recorded rainfall at the Doonholm gauge in Alloway, Ayrshire, for 37 years, carrying on a family tradition which began back in 1898 – over 114 years ago. Also picking up awards were Jim and Susan MacColl, of Dunlop in Ayrshire, who have recorded rainfall in memory of Mrs MacColl’s late brother, Alasdair, a trained meteorologist and dedicated rainfall observer.

James Curran, SEPA Chief Executive, said: “The information the observers collect is crucial to a number of nationwide services and the awards are a way of showing our appreciation to the longest serving observers. Some have carried out their duties for nearly half a century and we hope they continue to show the same enthusiasm in the service they provide.”

Christine Duffy, Rainfall Data Manager of the Met Office, said: “The Met Office and SEPA work closely together throughout the year to help minimise the risk that weather and flooding can bring. The rainfall observers provide an invaluable service to both ourselves and SEPA and this is a fantastic event to recognise their commitment and dedication.”

For more information on becoming a rainfall observer, please visit the SEPA website.





Top ten: spookiest weather conditions

30 10 2012

As it’s halloween  tomorrow, we’ve taken a look at the top ten spookiest weather conditions. From well known scary weather – like thunder and lightning and sea mist, to lesser-known phenomena such as brocken spectre and fall streak holes.

  1. Fall streak hole. Also known as a hole punch cloud, these clouds sometimes cause people to think the world is ending, especially when wispy vigra clouds are descending from the hole. The exact conditions that cause them to occur are still debated.
  2. Sea mist. This occurs when mild air moves over the sea, which is cooler. It can be particularly spooky when sea mist comes in during the day and visibility is drastically reduced.
  3. Sunsets. Although often considered beautiful, some particularly vibrant red sunsets can create a spooky effect.
  4. Dust storms. Dust and sand storms can be whipped up rapidly by strong winds in arid regions. Dust storms can look particularly ominous as they approach as they can be up to 40 metres high.
  5. Whistling wind. Windy conditions can be scary when they blow through objects causing a whistling sound.
  6. Brocken spectre. This effect is produced when an observer stands above the upper surface of a cloud – on a mountain or high ground – with the sun behind them. When they view their shadow the light is reflected back in such a way that a spooky circular ‘glory’ appears around the point directly opposite the sun.
  7. Roll clouds. These ominous looking clouds are a type of arcus cloud usually associated with a thunderstorm or a cold front. As these rare clouds often appear to be ‘rolling’ they often cause fear that severe weather is on the way.
  8. Thunder and lightning. One of the most common forms of ‘scary weather’, thousands of thunderstorms are taking place at any one time across the globe.  The lightning you see during a thunderstorm is a large electrical spark caused by electrons moving from one place to another, while the rumble of thunder is caused by the noise of intense heating and expansion of the air along the path of the lightning.
  9. Clouds over a full moon. This spooky effect occurs when clouds partially cover a full moon.
  10. Fog. Fog forms when relatively moist and mild air close to the ground cools quickly, causing the moisture in the air to condense (at which point it becomes visible to the human eye). This normally happens in autumn and winter under clear skies, which allows heat from the ground to escape quickly to cause rapid temperature drops.

What weather conditions do you find the spookiest?





Hurricane Sandy heads for the northeast USA

29 10 2012

As many as 60 million people across 12 US states are thought to be in the path of Hurricane Sandy, which has been given the nickname “Frankenstorm”.

Hurricane Sandy is currently moving northward, parallel to the US East Coast, and is expected to make a turn towards the northeast US coast later on today. However, strong winds and stormy conditions are already being felt from North Carolina to New York.

Hurricane Sandy heads towards the northeast coast of the USA 29 October 2012

Sandy looks set to impact parts of the mid-Atlantic and north-eastern USA like last year’s ‘Halloween Nor’easter’ storm of 2011 and the ‘Perfect Storm’ of 1991. As Sandy approaches land the warm moist air circulating within the hurricane will meet cold air spreading south into the north-eastern USA from Canada. This provides the potential for the storm to develop further and produce severe winds, heavy rain, flooding and even snow on its north and west flanks as it hits land.

Uncertainties remain as to the precise location and timing of landfall. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center takes Sandy over the Mid-Atlantic states, very close to Delaware and New Jersey, later on tonight or Tuesday morning. However, due to the large size of the storm (around 600 miles across), the impacts from Sandy will be widespread and not just limited to where the centre of the storm makes landfall.

Storm surge, combined with high tide, could cause extensive flooding to low lying areas, between 4 and 8 inches of rain could fall over portions of the northeast coast and 2 to 3 ft of snow is expected in the mountains of West Virginia.

Official National Hurricane Center forecast for Sandy on Monday 29 October 2012

This is the second time in two years that New York will have been impacted by a tropical system. Only last year Hurricane Irene travelled up the east coast of the US and made landfall with winds of 65 mph in Brooklyn, New York. However, Sandy could have a larger impact than Irene due to it’s larger size, stronger winds and greater storm surge.

Hurricane Sandy has already cut a swathe through the Caribbean, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge to Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas. At least 60 people have been killed, properties damaged and flooded, and large parts of Jamaica were left without power.

The National Hurricane Center and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are providing warnings and advice to those who are potentially at risk from the storm. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of hurricane tracks from its global forecast model to NHC which it uses along with guidance from other models in the production of its forecasts and guidance.

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.

You can find out how tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, form in this video





Met Office in the Media: 29 October 2012

29 10 2012

Today there a couple of news stories (one in the Express and another in the Daily Star) which refer to the ‘Met Office winter forecast’, but they create a slightly misleading picture.

They seem to be based on our three-month outlook for contingency planners, a product which is updated each month and is available to view on our website. There are a couple of points to mention here.

Firstly the current three-month outlook covers November to January, so does not cover a full winter period. Meteorologically speaking, winter runs from December to February – so a full look at winter won’t be available until towards the end of next month.

The second point is that the three-month outlook is designed for contingency planners – those people making longer-term strategic resourcing decisions based on their preferred exposure to risk. It’s a complex product which shows the range of probabilities for temperatures and precipitation for the whole of the UK over the three-month period.

It is not, therefore, the sort of forecast that the public find useful when making decisions, such as deciding when to go on holiday.

Specifically looking at the current three-month outlook for both temperature and precipitation, both clearly state there are currently relatively few large-scale influences and, therefore, there is low confidence in the forecast.

While the Met Office is a world leader in longer-range forecasting and we continue to make improvements in this area, it is still a developing area of meteorology.

As ever, our highly accurate five-day forecasts and weather warnings provide the best possible advice and detail on what weather to expect in the UK. These can be used alongside our 30-day outlook, which gives a more general view of the weather ahead over a longer-timescale.





Hurricane Sandy threatens severe weather for US East Coast

26 10 2012

Over the last two days Hurricane Sandy has cut a swathe through the Caribbean bringing strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge to Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas. At least 20 people have been killed, properties damaged and flooded and at one point large parts of Jamaica were without power.

Hurricane Sandy is now moving away from the Bahamas, but is still very close to the south-east coast of the USA. The east coast of Florida is experiencing stormy conditions as Sandy moves northwards over the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Sandy 26 October 2012

Sandy looks likely to turn north-west early next week and impact parts of the mid-Atlantic and north-eastern USA as did last year’s ‘Halloween Nor’easter’ storm of 2011 and the ‘Perfect Storm’ of 1991. As Sandy approaches land the warm moist air circulating within the hurricane looks sets to meet cold air spreading south into the north-eastern USA from Canada. This provides the potential for the storm to develop further and produce severe winds, heavy rain, flooding and even snow on its north and west flanks as it hits land.

Uncertainties remain as to the precise location and timing of landfall. However, the area most likely to be affected stretches from the states of Maryland to Massachusetts, including the populous cities of Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

Official National Hurricane Center Forecast for Sandy on Friday 26 October

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are providing warnings and advice to those who are potentially at risk from the storm. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of hurricane tracks from its global forecast model to NHC which it uses along with guidance from other models in the production of its forecasts and guidance.

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.





Tropical Storm Sandy heading for Jamaica and Cuba

24 10 2012

It may be late October, but the Atlantic hurricane season is still in full swing. At this time of year the strongest storms usually develop in the Caribbean Sea and this is where Tropical Storm Sandy has been gathering strength in the last couple of days.

Sandy could reach hurricane strength before making landfall over Jamaica later today bringing winds of up to 75 mph and 150 to 300 mm rain. Sandy may not strengthen much once it hits the land but is then expected cross Cuba and the Bahamas, giving Haiti a glancing blow on the way.

Sandy is then likely move north and bring strong winds and torrential rain to southeast Florida for a time  before it develops into a deep Atlantic low pressure system with the possibility of bringing wet and windy conditions to north-eastern USA or eastern Canada early next week.

Further out in the Atlantic Tropical Storm Tony has developed. Although no threat to land, Tony is the 19th storm of the 2012 Atlantic season equalling the tally of both the 2011 and 2010 seasons.

Tropical Storms Sandy and Tony

Meanwhile, a tropical depression has developed in the Arabian Sea and looks set to bring rain to Somalia in eastern Africa in the next couple of days. If it does strengthen into a tropical storm, it will be the first storm in the northern Indian Ocean in 2012.

In the western Pacific Tropical Storm Son-Tinh is bringing wet and windy weather to the southern islands of the Philippines including Mindanao. This will bring back memories of last year’s Tropical Storm Washi which caused devastation in this region. Son-Tinh is likely to continue its track across the South China Sea and make a further landfall at the weekend over Vietnam or southern China.

Tropical Storm Son-Tinh

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.





Top ten: Mildest temperatures recorded last night

23 10 2012

Yesterday was a mild day with temperatures reaching as high as 19.2 °C, which was recorded in Langdon Bay during the daytime. However night-time temperatures were also mild for the time of year, with many areas not dropping below 10 °C. Jersey was particularly warm, not falling below 13.5 °C last night.

Station Temperature (°C)
Jersey: Airport 13.5
Bognor Regis 12.9
Guernsey: Airport 12.9
Langdon Bay 12.1
Manston 12.1
Frittenden 11.9
Herstmonceux, West End 11.9
Faversham 11.8
Scilly: St Marys Airport 11.7
Skegness 11.7

Overnight lows at this time of year would typically be around 7 to 9 °C across southern England, making last night around 4 or 5 °C milder than average. More UK climate and weather statistics are available on our website.





Turning colder this weekend

22 10 2012

There have been many references in the media to the UK having an Indian summer this week, with temperatures expected to reach 20 °C. However, as forecast by the Met Office many of us woke up today to rather grey, misty and drizzly skies and although temperatures are well above average for the time of year, it certainly doesn’t look or feel summery outside for most of us. We have also seen widespread mist and fog overnight across England and Wales, which the Met Office warned for over the weekend, and further foggy conditions are expected for the next couple of nights.

This morning's satellite image

Visible satellite image from 0900 22 October 2012

So are we going to see any sunshine at all this week? Well, yes, the cloud should break in some places, and we may even see temperatures rise to the high teens along the south coast of England at times, but these temperatures will be short lived.

For most of us it will be the end of the week before the sunshine returns and when it does the weather will be far from warm.

By Friday, much colder air from the Arctic will spread across the UK, bringing drier and clearer weather but much lower temperatures. In fact, daytime highs will struggle to reach double figures by the weekend and there may even be a few wintry showers across north-eastern parts of the UK. It will be cold and frosty overnight too and for many of us this will be the first cold snap of the season.

In this video, Deputy Chief Forecaster Baden Hall explains exactly what we can expect over the next few days.

The latest information about the weather and warnings can be found on the Met Office website, iPhone and Android apps and on twitter. Cold weather can also have an impact on people’s health and you can find out more on the Met Office’s Cold weather and health web pages.





Guest Blog: Ready for Winter?

22 10 2012

Lynda Nicholson from Scottish Government talks about the launch of this years Ready for winter? Campaign.

Today the Scottish Government launched its new Ready for Winter? campaign designed to get Scotland more prepared for severe weather of all types. Following the cold winters in 2009 and 2010, and a wet summer this year, it’s becoming more apparent that severe weather can strike at any time and not all of us are prepared. 

In fact, new research from the British Red Cross and the Scottish Government showed that only 39% per cent of people said that they were prepared for periods of severe weather, and 76% think they are doing enough to prepare for poor driving conditions with just an ice-scraper and de-icer.

The Ready for Winter? campaign sets out what you really need to do and focuses on how we can get ready at home, at work, in the community and when we’re on the move. It’s not difficult or expensive to get ready, just a few small steps now can save a lot of trouble later. By thinking ahead, acting now and considering the likely consequences for your family, business or neighbourhood, we can make sure fewer people get caught out should severe weather hit.

You can get the latest weather forecasts and warnings from the Met Office so you know when severe weather is expected, taking small steps now means you will be ready when cold weather arrives.

If you want to know more about what you should do, visit Ready Scotland for information and advice.   

 





Severe weather expected in parts of Spain and southern France

19 10 2012

This weekend looks set to be a very wet one over parts of Spain and southern France as very warm, humid air and an active weather front combine to bring heavy rain and thunderstorms.

The frontal system stretches from Scandinavia, across southeastern Britain to North Africa and it’s on the southern side of this that we are likely to see torrential, thundery downpours bringing the risk of flash flooding.

Visible satellite image 3.30pm 19 October 2012

Southeastern Spain, from Murcia to Valencia and Cuenca, may see some of the heaviest rain on Saturday, but it’s the north and east of Spain and parts of southern France that are most at risk from the torrential downpours through the weekend. Here there could be 100 to 200 mm of rain falling in a short space of time across quite a wide area, with the risk of up to 300 mm of rain possible in places.

Some severe thunderstorms are also likely across parts of Morocco and Algeria, with gusty winds generating dust storms.








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