Play the Met Office online weather game – can you beat the top score?

31 08 2011

The Met Office, along with the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, has launched an online weather forecasting game.

By playing the game, you’ll be helping us understand the best way of presenting probability in weather forecasts. Liz Stephens from the University of Bristol – who led the development of the game – is hoping it will be played 10,000 times, making it the largest study into communicating weather probabilities.

Find out more about the project behind the game.

In the game itself, you’ll be asked to interpret a number of forecasts to help Brad the ice cream seller maximise his profits. There’s an element of luck here. If there’s just a 10% chance of rain you can be fairly confident that it will stay dry, but it may still rain and Brad will lose out. The top score today is £364, can you beat it?

Even if you’ve already had a go, help us reach our target and play the game again. Each time you re-play the game you’ll see different ways of presenting the probability of weather. This will give us important information and feedback from the public about the most effective ways of presenting probabilities in weather forecasts.

Play the game now.

Last chance to enter our weather photo competition

30 08 2011
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To celebrate 150 years of forecasting for the nation we’re running an online weather photo competition. Enter your pictures of defining weather moments from 2011 for a chance to win a trip to the Met Office or one of 10 runner up prizes. We’re looking for pictures that show how weather plays a part in your life and the impact it has on you. You can take a look through the entries so far above or on the Met Office Flickr page.

How to enter

If you’ve taken a great weather picture this year, there’s less than 24 hours left to submit your photo. The closing time is 12pm on Wednesday 31st August. You can enter via email, Flickr or Facebook.

You can email you photos to us via our dedicated email box Please include your name and contact details.

The Met Office reserves the right to upload photos submitted through this process to its public group on Flickr™.

Upload your photos using your Facebook log-in and add them to our to  Met Office page. Please add 150th to the description.

Entries can be submitted via the Met Office Flickr™ group for public community viewing. Log on to Flickr™ – add the image to the Met Office General weather pix group. Ensure you use the tag 150th.

For full details on how to enter, prizes and terms and conditions visit the competition page.

Met Office in the News: 30 August 2011

30 08 2011

There have been reports today that the Met Office have said that this summer will be the coolest since 1993. This figure is based on the Central England Temperature record taken from our website. The Central England Temperature record is representative of a small part of England and not for the UK as a whole and the figures are not yet complete as we are yet to see the end of August.

Interestingly, looking at the temperature statistics for the UK we find that June saw an average temperature of 12.6 C, bang on the average temperature you would expect. July, on the other hand, was cooler than average, reaching 14.1 C, some 0.7 C below the long term average.  Figures available until mid August show that temperatures were around half a degree Celsius above the long term average, but we will have to wait for the full month figures before we can make a full assessment on how this compares to past years.

The Met Office will issue official statistics for both August and Summer 2011 once the month and season is complete.

Hurricane Irene expected to make landfall in the US this weekend

26 08 2011

Latest forecasts show Hurricane Irene is expected to make landfall on the eastern coast of the United States on Saturday.

It is due to pass over North Carolina before continuing up the coast, passing over New York City about a day later.

Irene, the first hurricane of this year’s North Atlantic tropical storm season, has already caused much destruction in the Bahamas with winds of up to 115 mph.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), is warning that Irene could bring 6-10 inches (150-250mm) of rain, with up to 15 inches (380mm) possible in places. It will also bring a powerful storm surge which could cause flooding in low lying areas.

Julian Heming, Tropical Prediction Scientist for the Met Office, said: “While Irene’s strong winds have the potential to cause damage, it is the amount of rainfall combined with the storm surge which are most likely to cause disruption.

“Although there will be slow weakening, we are expecting Irene to remain a powerful storm as it travels north along the US east coast.”

The Met Office is one of the key providers of hurricane forecast modelling to the NHC.

The latest location and forecast track of Irene can be viewed on the Met Office’s StormTracker, a tool specifically designed to monitor tropical storms. It provides an interactive global picture of current storm activity to help quantify risk and aid decision making.

Travel advice relating to Hurricane Irene.


Heavy downpours across parts of the south-east

23 08 2011

As predicted, there have been heavy thundery downpours across south-east England and the London area this morning, with parts of Kent seeing 10mm of rain in one hour. Some areas of London also saw 5-10mm of rain across the morning.

The risk of heavy thundery showers continues into the afternoon. However, as is the nature of  showers, and as we saw in Bournemouth last week, some areas will have heavier bursts than others. Some parts of London, including Heathrow, have only had 1mm of rain so far this morning while Hampstead has had 9mm in an hour.

Heavy rainfall in Scotland 6 -11 August 2011

16 08 2011


Heavy rainfall between Saturday 6 and Monday 8 August 2011 resulted in saturated ground conditions and localised flooding across parts of Scotland, particularly in Aberdeenshire.

This was followed by further persistent, heavy rain throughout Wednesday 10 and much of Thursday 11 August. The worst of the conditions were across Southern and Central Scotland but the more southern parts of Northern Scotland also saw heavy rain for a time. This rain gradually moved away southwards during Thursday afternoon.

Weather data

Rainfall totals for 1-11 August from a selection of Met Office observing stations.  

Location Actual (mm) 1 to 11 August Long term August average (mm) Percentage of average
Leuchars 134 47 285 %
Charterhall 97.2 51 191 %
Lentran 118.8 66 180 %
Inverbervie 91.8 52 177 %
Lossiemouth 94.8 54 176 %
Edinburgh, Gogarbank 101.2 59 172 %
Strathallan Airfield 101.6 60 169 %
Aboyne 92.4 56 165 %
Kinloss 88.6 57 155 %
Dyce 96 62 155 %


On Monday there was flooding in Aberdeenshire, where the River Deveron came very close to overtopping in Huntley. This resulted in the evacuation of a Care Home and a number of other properties. There were problems for revellers attending a music festival outside Inverness.

Rail services between Huntly and Elgin were disrupted and the A96 Inverness to Aberdeen road was closed for a time at Fochabers.

The heavy rainfall during Wednesday resulted in a number of roads being affected by surface water flooding. As the day progressed an increasing number of SEPA Flood Alerts were issued, many of which were upgraded to Flood Warnings on Thursday. By Thursday morning there were 29 SEPA Flood Warnings in force and widespread surface water flooding throughout much of Central and Eastern Scotland affecting both road and rail transport.

How we did

The Aberdeen PWS forecaster and the PWS advisors worked together with SEPA through the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service to advise many Scottish Responders throughout the period of heavy rain.

Yellow rainfall alerts and warnings were issued in good time and updated to Amber warnings as required. A Red warning (the highest level of warning) was temporarily issued for the Edinburgh area as a result of consistent predictions of rainfall totals exceeding 100mm.

A Grampian Tactical group was formed on Monday and our Public Weather Service (PWS) Advisors provided weather briefs to the group by telephone until the water levels started to drop and the flooding risk reduced.

Late on Wednesday evening it became clear that there was the risk of flooding for properties in Huntly resulting in the Grampian Tactical group being set up once again. Our PWS advisors provided weather briefs to overnight meetings and in the early hours it was clear that the rain was easing and that water levels would not rise to a level that would require evacuation.

Scotland’s Strategic Coordinating groups and the Tactical groups in Grampian were supported directly by the PWS Advisors throughout the period. PWS Advisors also briefed Ministers in the Scottish Government Cabinet Sub Committee when it was convened on Thursday.

Positive feedback was received from all parties about the guidance and warnings issued.

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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