Happy birthday weather forecasting

1 08 2011
Photographic copy of a portrait lithograph mad...

Admiral Robert FitzRoy, the founder of the Met Office

Today sees the 150th birthday of public weather forecasts. The world’s first public weather forecast was published on the 1st August 1861 and for the last 150 years the Met Office have continued to provide forecasts for the nation.

Starting with the lines “general weather probable in the next two days”, the short piece which appeared in The Times in 1861 was a bold move which started forecasting as we know it today.

It was put together by Robert FitzRoy, a captain in the Royal Navy and a pioneer in the field of meteorology who headed up the department which later became the Met Office.

In the video below I spend some time looking back at the history of the Met Office and some key events along the way.

To mark the event, the Met Office is launching a photo competition asking the public to put forward pictures which define weather moments of 2011 so far.

Details of the competition, as well as a timeline of major events in forecasting over the last 15 decades, are on the Met Office website.

In celebration BBC News ran a feature on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio Four Today programme interviewed myself and Jane Insley from the Science Museum on the work of the Met Office. Features also ran in The Times, BBC 23 Degrees and the Western Morning News.

In other news, there has been widespread reports of a spell of warm weather in parts of the UK over the next few days.

Tomorrow will see some rain in the north and west clear during the morning leaving many places dry. Then it will be mainly dry and warm. However, scattered showers are expected in the afternoon, heavy from the Midlands northwards. The hottest and most humid weather will be mainly in southeast England. You can check out the latest detailed weather forecast on the Met Office webite


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