Met Office weatherman in Camp Bastion

22 04 2014

Met Office meteorologist Simon King has just returned from Afghanistan where he has been part of a crack team forecasting the weather for our Armed Forces. He has been working with the Met Office’s Mobile Met Unit (MMU) which gives advice on the potential impact of weather on armed operations.

Simon King, MMU, Camp Bastion

Simon King, MMU, Camp Bastion

Simon has been a Met Office meteorologist for eight years and is also an Officer in the Royal Air Force Reserve having completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a war zone weather can have a major influence on military operations and during his most recent tour in Afghanistan, Simon says his forecasts helped “forewarn of a major thunderstorm which turned the ‘normal’ dirt and sand into very unpleasant muddy conditions and enabled the military to take appropriate action mitigating any major impacts to their operations.”
The MMU is a sponsored RAF reserve unit made up of around 50 Met Office volunteers who have undergone military as well as meteorological training. They help the UK’s Armed Forces and allies understand the impact of weather on military activities and can help keep troops safe.

Simon explains: “Work at the Met Office in Camp Bastion is intense, with four members of staff providing 24/7 cover doing both observations and forecasts. While the weather and forecasting is a challenge, we are also working in a hostile environment with numerous threats.”

On his most recent tour temperatures were much cooler than the average and perhaps not quite as warm as people might think for a desert. While Simon was there temperatures were around 5/6 °C or lower at night with maximum temperatures around 16-20 °C, occasionally reaching 25 °C.

In addition to his work for the military Simon King also presented the weather on 5Live Breakfast one morning live from Afghanistan. He says “as I had access to the same meteorological information in Camp Bastion as I would at my desk in the UK, it wasn’t an issue to put together a UK forecast. In fact, as Afghanistan is four and a half hours ahead of the UK, it did mean there was no 4.15am alarm call and the first broadcast was at 11am!”

As well as working in Afghanistan MMU advisors work closely with our armed forces involved in other operations and exercises in the UK and overseas. A reliable and efficient delivery system, managed by a team of dedicated MMU Engineers, ensures our advisors have access to the most up-to-date weather information, when ever and where ever they need it. This includes outputs from our high-resolution forecasting models and support from many other Met Office teams such as IT, Science, Observations, and Operations.





Cyclone Ita making landfall over Queensland

11 04 2014

A cyclone is making landfall over Queensland, Australia with winds of up to 145 mph expected, together with heavy rain and a storm surge which is likely to cause disruption for coastal communities.

Forecasts have been successfully predicting the track of Cyclone Ita for several days which has allowed time for preparations – including evacuations from the areas directly in its path. Landfall is expected near Cape Flattery, about 130 miles north of Cairns.

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Image of Cyclone Ita (credit: Naval Research Laboratory)

Whilst Ita is making landfall over a relatively unpopulated part of Queensland and some weakening is expected, it is likely that the cyclone will turn south and move parallel to the coast before moving back over the ocean. Thus population centres further south such as Cairns, Innisfail and Townsville may see some impacts from the cyclone.

Latest forecast track of Ita from the Bureau of Meteorology

Latest forecast track of Ita from the Bureau of Meteorology

Ita is the strongest cyclone to make landfall over Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in February 2011. Yasi caused extensive flooding and wind damage in the region just south of Cairns.

Regional warnings for Cyclone Ita are produced by the Bureau of Meteorology. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance.

Met Office StormTracker provides a mapped picture of tropical cyclones around the globe with access to the history of their respective storm tracks. There are also forecast tracks from the Met Office global forecast model out to six days ahead for current tropical cyclones, as well as the latest observed cloud cover and sea surface temperature. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Celebrating World Meteorological Day

18 03 2014

Every year on the 23rd March meteorological services around the world celebrate World Meteorological Day to mark the creation of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950.  This year’s World Meteorological Day theme is ‘Weather and climate: engaging youth’.

World Meteorological Day 2014WMO is engaging with young people through a variety of ways, including:

  • A new and revamped “Youth corner” website providing fun information like ‘how to make a tornado in a jar’ or ‘creating a portable cloud’.

The Met Office is continually looking at ways to get young people engaged in the fascinating world of weather and climate. Here are some of the things we’re doing:

Inspiring the next generation with EDF Energy

This Met Office and EDF Energy collaboration is part of a wider partnership programme to help explain our science and extend science reach into new audiences.

In 2011, the Met Office began collaborating with EDF Energy to help educate school children about weather and climate science. It’s our aim to ensure that all children using EDF Energy’s The Pod have a good understanding of the science underpinning the other sustainability topics they study.

The Pod has a wide reach among teachers and children across the UK. There are now more than 17,000 schools registered and over 10 million children engaged with the Pod since it began in 2008.

Teachers can download hands-on activities designed by the Met Office, which help young people engage and develop their understanding of weather and climate topics. These activities include the ‘Degrees of change’ which addresses historic temperature records and natural variability and ‘Carbon Cycle Capers’, an activity that teaches children about carbon sinks and sources.

STEM Ambassadors at the Met Office

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is at the heart of the Met Office. Without continued expertise in these fields, we would not be able to maintain its position as the United Kingdom’s national weather service and a leading centre for climate research. We need to attract the brightest people and enable our employees to develop their professional skills during their careers.

One way to fulfil these aims, is to engage in STEM outreach and we have seen our STEM Ambassador team grow from 10 four years ago to more than 120 active ambassadors across the UK today. The STEM outreach programme is embedded into Met Office culture, bringing benefits to both the Met Office and its wider communities.

The work of our STEM Ambassadors varies hugely – from visits to local schools to talk about science or careers to running climate science workshops to weather balloon launches and code clubs. Ambassadors also take part in national events such as The Big Bang and work with other organisations engaged in STEM outreach.

Met Office Science Camp

In the summer of 2013, the Met Office ran a series of pilot events, providing an educational science night for young people aged 11–12 at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter.

These Met Office Science Camps have proved to be a great success. Over four events, 176 children from local schools and scout/guide groups got hands-on with STEM at the Met Office. They camped overnight in onsite conference rooms, helped along by a team of over 100 staff volunteers who represented almost every area of the Met Office’s work.

The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive; saying they would recommend Met Office Science Camps to a friend. The feedback from staff was equally positive, saying that they would recommend volunteering to colleagues and would take part and help organise future events again.

Building on the success of Met Office Science Camp 2013 we will run four events over the summer of 2014, endeavouring to make each one bigger, louder and more fun.

Interested in a career in science?

To mark World Meteorological Day, The Royal Meteorological Society is working with the Met Office, the University of Reading, the Institute of Physics and local schools, to run a Twitter session on careers in science.

They will be answering questions on the physics of the environment and meteorology. There are some great interviewees taking part including Prof Iain Stewart, scientist and broadcaster; Prof Marshall Shepherd Director, Atmospheric Sciences Program, University of Georgia and ex President of the American Meteorological Society and academics from various universities. From industry we have experts; including Dominic Sindall, Head Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Faber Global Ltd and others. The Abbey School, Reading will also be taking part.

You can join the Twitter conversation between 2pm and 4pm on Thursday 20 March. To join in, follow @rmets and use #sciencecareers. More information on how to take part can be found here.





Met Office in the Media: 16 February 2014, response by Professor Mat Collins and the Met Office

17 02 2014

An article by David Rose appeared yesterday in the Mail on Sunday entitled: ‘No, global warming did NOT cause the storms, says one of the Met Office’s most senior experts’

In it he says that Mat Collins, Professor in Climate Systems at Exeter University, ‘appears to contradict’ the report released by the Met Office last weekend and that he ‘declined to comment on his difference in opinion’ with one of the report’s authors, Dame Julia Slingo.

This is not the case and there is no disagreement.

The report by the Met Office states that “As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.”   This agrees with the latest IPCC Report that states: “Substantial uncertainty and thus low confidence remains in projecting changes in Northern Hemisphere storm tracks, especially for the North Atlantic basin.”

This is the basis for Prof Collins’ comment and means that we are not sure, yet, how the features that bring storms across the Atlantic to the UK – the jet-stream and storm track – might be impacted by climate change. As the Met Office report highlights for this year’s extreme conditions, there are many competing factors – from changes in the winds of the upper atmosphere to disturbed weather over Indonesia.

What the Met Office report – and indeed the IPCC – does say is that there is increasing evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense. It is clear that global warming has led to an increase in moisture in the atmosphere – with about four per cent more moisture over the oceans than in the 1970s – which means that when conditions are favourable to the formation of storms there is a greater risk of intense rainfall. This is where climate change has a role to play in this year’s flooding.

With respect to changes in storminess, the good news is that recent advances in climate science are starting to pay dividends. Improved spatial resolution in models – that means that they can model weather and climate in more spatial detail – is allowing the models to represent some of the key factors that drive regional weather patterns. As the Met Office report states ‘With a credible modelling system in place it should now be possible to perform scientifically robust assessments of changes in storminess, the degree to which they are related to natural variability and the degree to which there is a contribution from human-induced climate change.’





January weather summary

14 02 2014

January saw a succession of weather systems tracking across the UK from the Atlantic which brought high winds, at times gale force, and persistent rain to the country. This extended a sequence of deep lows that began in mid-December. The worst of these were over by the 7th to give some brief respite, but rain continued through the remainder of the month with very few dry days. For the period from 12th December to the end of January some stations in the south of England had recorded over five months worth of rainfall.

The UK mean temperature for January was 4.8 °C, which is 1.1 °C above the 1981-2010 average. The UK overall received 151% of average rainfall making it the third wettest in the series. A broad region from east Devon to Kent and up to the central midlands received well in excess of 200 % and some more localised regions were closer to three times the average. Visit our climate section for a full written summary of the month.

Our infographic and video provide a summary of the weather throughout January:

14_0062-jan-summary-infog





Statistics for winter so far

11 02 2014

As the unsettled UK weather continues this week, the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre have looked at statistics for this winter so far (from 1 December to 10 February).

These add to previous facts and figures we put out earlier this week, and show a picture of continuing exceptional rainfall across many areas.

Looking at regions around the UK, these provisional figures suggest the region of SE and Central S England has already exceeded its record winter rainfall in the series back to 1910. It is currently at 439.2mm*, less than 2mm above the previous record set in 1915 with 437.1mm of rain.

For the UK as a whole, and also for Wales, both are fairly close to their respective record wettest winter levels in the national series dating back to 1910. Average rainfall for the rest of the month would likely see those records broken.

All countries across the UK have already exceeded their typical average rainfall for the whole winter (according to the 1981-2010 long-term averages). Normally at this stage of the season, you’d expect to have seen only around 80% of that whole season average.

All areas are also on target for a significantly wetter than average winter, with typically around 130-160% of normal rainfall if we get average rainfall for the rest of February.

All countries and areas are also on target for a warmer than average winter.

Current record wettest winters:

Country Year Rainfall Winter 2014 to date*
UK 1995 485.1mm 429.2mm
ENGLAND 1915 392.7mm 328.0mm
WALES 1995 684.1mm 618.7mm
SCOTLAND 1995 649.5mm 558.5mm
NORTHERN IRELAND 1994 489.7mm 360.0mm

 

*These are provisional figures from 1 December 2013 to 10 February 2014 and could change after final quality control checks on data.





UK’s exceptional weather in context

6 02 2014

As the UK’s run of exceptionally wet and stormy weather continues, the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre has looked at how the last two months compare in the historical records.

Here’s some facts and figures for the weather we’ve seen through December and January:

For the UK

  • For the UK, December was provisionally the equal-fifth wettest December in the national series dating back to 1910 and January was the third wettest January in the same record. When the two months are combined, it is provisionally the wettest December and January in the series.
  • There were more days of rain (any day with more than 1mm of rainfall) for the UK in January than for any other month in a series dating back to 1961, with 23 days.
  • It was the windiest December for the UK in records back to 1969, based on the occurrence of winds in excess 60 kts (69mph).

England and Wales

  • Looking at the England and Wales Precipitation series, which dates back to 1766, it has been the wettest December to January since 1876/1877 and the 2nd wettest overall in the series.

Scotland

  • December was the wettest calendar month on record for Scotland in the series to 1910.
  • For eastern Scotland, December and January combined was provisionally the wettest two month (any-month) period in the same series.

Southern England

  • There have been very few dry days in this area since 12 December and regional statistics suggest that this is one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years.
  • Despite the rainfall being concentrated in the second half of the month it was the wettest December for south east England since 1959.
  • January was the wettest January for the south England region in the national series dating back to 1910, and the wettest calendar month for the south east region in the same series by a huge margin.
  • The two-month total of 372.2mm for the southeast and central southern England region is the wettest any 2-month period in the series from 1910 .
  • From 12th December to 31st January parts of south England recorded over five months worth of rainfall (based on average January rainfall for the region).

You can see more statistics on recent weather and through the historical records on our UK climate pages.

Full month provisional statistics from January 2014:

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
January
Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 4.8 1.1 44.8 95 183.8 151
England 5.4 1.3 57.3 106 158.2 191
Wales 5.3 1.2 38.0 78 269.0 171
Scotland 3.5 0.9 27.2 76 205.3 116
N Ireland 4.5 0.3 37.3 84 170.7 147




Wind gusts and rainfall totals 4-5th February 2014

5 02 2014

Last night another major Atlantic depression affected the UK, bringing further heavy rain and severe gales.

Here are some of the highest gusts of wind and rainfall totals recorded at Met Office observing stations between 3pm yesterday and 8am today.

Location Area Height (m) Max gust (mph)
SCILLY: ST MARYS AIRPORT ISLES OF SCILLY 31 92
BERRY HEAD DEVON 58 91
CULDROSE CORNWALL 76 76
WIGHT: NEEDLES OLD BATTERY ISLE OF WIGHT 80 71
PLYMOUTH, MOUNTBATTEN DEVON 50 71
ABERPORTH DYFED 133 70
CARDINHAM, BODMIN CORNWALL 200 70
ISLE OF PORTLAND DORSET 52 70
ST BEES HEAD NO 2 CUMBRIA 124 68
CAMBORNE CORNWALL 87 67
CAPEL CURIG NO 3 GWYNEDD 216 66
GUERNSEY: AIRPORT GUERNSEY 101 64
ORLOCK HEAD DOWN 35 64
MILFORD HAVEN DYFED 44 63
POINT OF AYRE ISLE OF MAN 9 62
NORTH WYKE DEVON 177 61
JERSEY: AIRPORT JERSEY 84 61
PEMBREY SANDS DYFED 3 61
DUNKESWELL AERODROME DEVON 252 60
MUMBLES HEAD WEST GLAMORGAN 43 60
Location Area Rainfall (mm)
NORTH WYKE DEVON 33.4
CAMBORNE CORNWALL 25.2
DUNKESWELL AERODROME DEVON 24.6
CARDINHAM, BODMIN CORNWALL 24.4
BANAGHER, CAUGH HILL LONDONDERRY 24.0
KATESBRIDGE DOWN 23.8
HIGH WYCOMBE, HQAIR BUCKINGHAMSHIRE 21.4
LISCOMBE SOMERSET 21.4
EXETER AIRPORT DEVON 21.2
DALWHINNIE INVERNESS-SHIRE 18.6
ALICE HOLT LODGE HAMPSHIRE 18.4
OKEHAMPTON DEVON 17.9
CULDROSE CORNWALL 17.6
BENSON OXFORDSHIRE 17.6
ODIHAM HAMPSHIRE 17.2
BUDE CORNWALL 17.0
CARTERHOUSE ROXBURGHSHIRE 17.0
CHARLWOOD SURREY 17.0
UPPER LAMBOURN BERKSHIRE 16.8
TREDEGAR GWENT 16.6

Further severe gales and heavy rain are expected over the next few days and everyone is advised to stay up to date with the latest Met Office forecasts and National Severe Weather Warnings and be prepared that the weather may change or worsen, leading to disruption of your plans.





Saturday’s squally weather and reports of tornadoes

27 01 2014

On Saturday we saw a number of heavy rain showers group together in what’s known as a ‘squall line’ – a narrow band of thunderstorms, intense rain, hail, and frequent lightning accompanied by brief but very strong gusts of wind and possibly tornadoes.

Radar image showing the narrow band of showers moving across the UK.

Radar image showing the narrow band of showers moving across the UK.

This squall line swept across Wales and then moved south east across southern parts of England – bringing about 6mm of rain to places in a very short period of time with gusts of wind of around 60mph or more in places.

It  also had the characteristics of a cold front, with the temperature ahead of it being around 11°C, falling to 7°C once the squall line had passed.

There have been reports of possible weak tornadoes from some locations, however it’s hard to verify them without pictures or footage because these features are generally too small to be picked up by satellites or weather observation equipment.

It’s also worth noting that squally winds can often be mistaken for tornadoes because these gusts can be sudden and strong – potentially causing very localised damage.

You can see more information on tornadoes and how they form on our website.





Coldfinger – The power of weather in context for marketing and advertising

23 01 2014

Terry Makewell, the Head of Digital & Global Media at the Met Office details how we are seeing not just the next stage of contextual advertising but the emergence of an era where the agency takes further control of Return on Investment (ROI)

This morning the Met Office and The Weather Channel Ltd. introduced weather as an advertising category to brands and media agency executives at the Century Club in London.

As Britons we feel like we own weather. We live with it every day. It is a national obsession. The rain soaks our clothes and, more blissfully, the sun warms our skin. When people think of the weather they think of the Met Office.

We are the UK’s foremost supplier of weather information and services. Our forecasts feed into thousands of systems across the UK and the World from aeroplanes to financial systems. Through our commercial remit as a government trading fund we offer advertising across our digital platforms which represents the largest reach in the UK weather market for advertisers.

We are at the cutting edge of climate and weather science with awards for social media, digital marketing and our ground breaking weather app. We’re extremely good at what we do.

Recently the Sunday Telegraph described our forecasting operations room as being ‘like the set of a James Bond movie with countless screens displaying the weather secrets of the world’. It certainly is an impressive sight to behold, but I must admit that I haven’t seen Honor Blackman walking around recently. But if she had  been she would have seen our 24/7 operations centre tweeting to any one of our near 200,000 followers on Twitter who wish to receive a personalised response and forecast. Weather never sleeps and neither do we.

Now this is where it gets really interesting. The national obsession with the weather means that the always connected customer is constantly accessing our content, viewing our videos and checking out their local forecasts – we are getting towards an average of 100 million UK page impressions on our website per month. All this combines to produce a very strong proposition for brands. Being able to deliver campaigns directly into the hands of 45% of all UK smart phone users (via our award winning mobile app) has provided a powerful leverage for some very large brands who have worked with us.

Through advertising across all of our digital propositions we are able to deliver tangible results by putting these adverts into context. Campaigns can be targeted to locations and to weather conditions.  You can target a holiday campaign in Hull tomorrow because you know it’ll be raining, or push a Ferrari campaign to the Manchester United players by targeting certain villages in the Cheshire countryside because it’ll be sunny.

The old adage of Content is King has been around for a long while, but now weather in context is fast becoming king. We have seen amazing ROI for our advertisers who follow this contextual approach. Weather provides us with a virtuous circle of returning customers.

So, while we can offer unequalled access to weather focused customers via our digital propositions we can also pass over this control. For anyone in the agency world there is always the question of how can I prove to my clients that they are getting value for money? To help answer this we are now allowing agencies direct access to our GoldenEye-esq operations centre via our Weather Windows™ product. This product allows agencies to utilise any of the Met Office’s unparalleled forecasts in an automated fashion by integrating these with their internal systems.

This is a powerful proposition since agencies can now target according to weather across an entire campaign, no matter where the adverts are being displayed. They make this call. This forecast can suit whatever variables the agency wishes to choose. Through this insight, it is possible to integrate weather into further campaign activities such as e-shots and non-digital displays. When you know it’s going to be sunny in Leith tomorrow you can push out that e-shot to customers in that geographic area and see those conversion rates soar!

Agencies can also use Weather Windows™ when working directly with brands to contextualise their own portfolios. Why not see where in the country someone is viewing a DIY website from, correlate this against the weather and then change the content to reflect this? If it’s raining then promote painting and internal products, but if it is sunny then push outside equipment such as sheds and lawnmowers.

Weather influences everything we do and Weather Windows™ provides the business intelligence to empower agencies and brands to contextually target the customer.

Weather knowledge is not only power, whether directed through the Met Office channel or through in-house methods. Weather knowledge is also profit.

Ross Webster, managing director EMEA, The Weather Channel discusses the value of big weather data in advertising here.

 








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