Met Office in the Media – 31 May 2012

31 05 2012

There is a lot of interest in this weekend’s weather as the Jubilee celebrations draw near, so there has been plenty of coverage in the news about what’s in store.

Some articles have ended up wide of the mark, however, with one in particular claiming the weekend could be affected by Tropical Storm Beryl – which has already dissipated in the Atlantic and is no longer a tropical storm.

The Met Office forecasts the remnants of this storm to dissipate further as it moves across the Atlantic and not affect the UK’s weather.

So what conditions will we actually see over the Jubilee celebrations?

There’s a fairly complex weather picture developing for the UK, with high pressure to the north and low pressure systems moving into the south by Sunday.

Forecast pressure chart for midday on Saturday showing high pressures to the north and south of the UK, and two low pressure systems to the east and west.

This means the situation is finely balanced, but the Met Office expects a marked split in the weather from the southern half to the northern half of the UK.

Saturday is expected to be a largely fine and dry day for much of the UK. However, cloud and rain will never be far away from the south-west and here we expect it to turn increasingly cloudy with rain moving in during the second half of the day.

As we move into Sunday, the southern half of the UK will see rain – heavy at times – while the northern half once again sees the best of any dry and bright spells. It will, however, be much cooler than last weekend in all parts.

Looking forward to next week, the outlook is for variable weather conditions – with sunshine, showers, and occasional longer spells of rain. You can see a regularly updated forecast for Jubilee celebration events on our website.

After a spell of exceptionally warm and fine weather, it may be disappointing that this won’t last through to the Jubilee weekend. However, many parts of the UK will see some dry and bright spells at times.

It’s certainly not unusual to see some rain at this time of year, in fact the general weather picture is for some typically British weather.

Looking back at past weather on important events in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, her Coronation Day on 2 June 1953 saw rain and relatively cool temperatures for the time of year – with a maximum temperature of around 12C. You can see what the weather was doing on other dates during her life and reign in our online infographic.

Definitely May-be an average month

30 05 2012

After a particularly cold and wet start, followed by a dry and exceptionally warm spell, May could be seen as anything but average.

However, the early monthly figures tell a different story – statistics from 1st to 28th of the month show temperature, rainfall and even sunshine are very close to normal.

This May is a stark example of why it’s difficult to judge a month at its halfway stage.

Up to the 15th the mean temperature for the UK was just 8.1 °C, 1.9 °C below the long-term (1971-2000) average.

Rainfall was running at 79% of the average too, well ahead for just halfway through the month, and sunshine was behind at just 41% of the average. This tells the story of a wet, gloomy and cold 15 days.

But around the 20th the UK’s weather changed its mood – giving way to a run of dry and fine weather, with some remarkably high temperatures.

This included a new maximum May temperature for Scotland – with 29.3 °C recorded in Achnagart, Highlands, on 25 May, beating the previous record of 29 °C set in 1992 at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.

In all, it has been the longest warm spell in May since 1992.

This means that, as we draw near to the end of the month, the figures for May now look very different and spectacularly average.

Mean temperature for 1 to 28 May is 10.1 °C, just 0.1 °C above the long-term average. Sunshine is at 104% of the average with 192 hours, so a little above what we would expect, and rainfall is just below at 90% of the average, or 59.8mm.

Clearly these are early month figures and the statistics at the end of the month will change somewhat.

However, the story of this May so far illustrates perfectly just how variable the Great British weather can be. From being a very cold first half of the month, to record breaking temperatures in the second – even if statistically we have had an ‘average’ month, it has actually been a very interesting few weeks of weather.

You can see full summaires of the UK’s weather for every month going back to 2001 on the UK climate pages on our website. The full summary for May will be available a few days after the month has finished.

Win the chance to present your own weather forecast

30 05 2012

To celebrate the jubilee we’re offering the chance to present and record your own Met Office weather forecast. To be in with a chance of winning just answer a simple question on our Facebook page. For a clue, have a look at our jubilee infographic below.

There’s also weather forecasts for jubilee events on our website.

Met Office ranked in top ten social brands

29 05 2012

The Met Office has made it into the top ten social brands in the Headstream Social Brands 100 list for 2012. The Met Office came in joint ninth position and was recognised as the top ranked organisation in the services category.

Our Facebook account fared particularly well and was the eighth top performing brand on this platform. On Twitter, we scored highly for speed of response and mentions of other Twitter accounts.

The ranking takes into account the range of engagement across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and our blog.

Charlotte Howells, Social Media and online communications Manager said: “The weather is something we all love to talk about and we want to be at the centre of those conversations about our ever changing weather and climate. We are absolutely delighted to have been recognised by social brands 100 and look forward to carrying on the conversations we are having with the public about the weather.”

The top 100 brands are put through a rigorous and independent judging process with an expert panel of judges from companies including Google, YouTube and Twitter helping to determine the final ranking position.

Social Brands 100 was created by social specialist agency Headstream in 2011 as an initiative to identify and acknowledge those brands leading the way in the social age. Now in its second year, Social Brands 100 has established a position as one of the leading rankings of social media performance.

You can download the full Social Brands 100 report here.

Slow start to pollen season

25 05 2012

Although the pollen season has had a slow start, levels are starting to increase following the settled weather the UK has seen over the last week.

Our pollen forecast, sponsored by Benadryl, uses our latest weather forecast information and combine this with pollen readings from across the UK. There are millions of hay fever sufferers across the UK, and the Met Office forecasts provide vital information to help reduce the impact pollen has on their health.

At this time of year, grass pollen becomes more prevalent.

Health Manager at the Met Office, Patrick Sachon said: ”Following the heavy and consistent rain we saw in April and early May, we are seeing the grass grow quicker than this time last year, when it was much drier. This is therefore expected to cause higher levels of grass pollen than last year.

”The Met Office forecast for the weekend is for the UK to remain warm and dry in most areas, with temperatures in the mid twenties in many parts. This means that those who suffer from hay fever will need to keep an eye the pollen count over the next few days.”

The pollen forecast is part of the wide range of weather-related services offered by the Met Office, which also include the UV index and Heat Health watch.

If you are suffering from hay fever, you can also record your symptons on the Benedryl pollen count tool.

Find out more about the pollen forecast.

Your weather pictures

24 05 2012

Thank you for sharing your weather pictures on Facebook  and Twitter. Here’s some of our favourites.

Warm and settled weather as Torch makes its way to Worcester

23 05 2012

Torch bearer Andrew Evans-Fisher in front of Worcester Cathedral.

The weather will be dry and warm with sunny spells as the Torch Relay makes its way to Worcester on Thursday.

Temperatures could reach as high as 25 ºC as the sun breaks its way through the cloud. This week’s settled weather is good news for the Olympic torch’s journey from Maisemore to Worcester on Thursday. If you are planning to head out to follow the Olympic Torch then you can check one of our local forecasts available for locations along its route. In fact the Met Office provides local forecasts for over 5,000 locations across the UK.

Georgia Smith, head of VisitWorcester and event lead for the city, said: “The Olympic Torch Relay is Worcester’s moment to shine – it would be great if the sun obliges too. But whatever the weather, I know that it will be an amazing day – a once-in-a-lifetime event that everyone can take part in and feel the magic and excitement of the London 2012 Olympics.”

Forecasts for the Olympic Torch Relay are available on our website as well as on mobile phones and on our iPhone and Android Apps meaning you are never far from a local, detailed weather forecast.

Forecasts for sporting venues at the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be available as the Games draw closer. The Met Office are providing weather forecasts to LOCOG as well as local and national government for the Torch Relay, Olympic and Paralympic Games to support event organisers, competing athletes and visitors and spectators alike.

Are you holding a Diamond Jubilee event? Add it to our map

17 05 2012

Are you holding a Jubilee Big Lunch event? We’d like to include your event on our Diamond Jubilee weather map on our website.

To submit your event, please add your event on our Facebook poll. Once you’ve added your event, ask your friends to vote for your event. The ten events with the most votes will be added to our event page and map. You have until 4 pm Friday 18 May to add your event to our poll.

How often does it snow in May?

15 05 2012

Reports of snow showers in parts of the UK over the past 24 hours and the prospect of more on high ground tonight may seem a little out of context at this time of year, but is it unusual?

Snowfall at this time of year isn’t an annual event, so it’s not completely normal, but it’s fair to say it’s not completely unusual either. We last saw snow in May all the way back in… 2011, just last year, and we also saw more snow in 2010.

If we look back through the records dating back to 1910, the snowiest May on record was most likely in 1979 when 342 weather observation sites reported snow on 2 May.

This snowy spell lasted through the whole of the first week of that month. The light snow showers we’ve seen this May seem slight in comparison.

Besides these wintry showers, much has been made in the media of the ‘cold spell’ which is ‘gripping’ the UK this month and the rather unsettled weather we’ve had.

While many people associate May with the start of summer weather, it can actually be a month of very mixed and variable conditions – with wide contrasts possible.

This is borne out by the piece of old weather lore:


Ne’er cast a clout,

Until May is out.


While this rhyme is a bit ambiguous and open to interpretation, one view is that this means don’t throw out your winter clothing (from clout – which means thread or cloth) until May is over – presumably because you can expect virtually any type of weather at this time of year.

So, unsettled and cool weather – even with snow or frosts – isn’t out of context in May despite perceptions that it’s typically a warm and sunny time of year.

This week really sums that up. We are expecting some night-time minimums which are below average – isolated areas in Scotland and northern England could get down to freezing or just below.

During the day, however, temperatures in places could get to 15C or above in parts of southern England – and it may even feel quite warm when the Sun is out, particularly in spots sheltered from the wind.

There will also be some rainfall this week, but many places will see sunny and dry spells too.

So, don’t throw away your summer wear yet – nor your winter woolies.


What are climate models?

15 05 2012

A key way of understanding our climate and making projections about how it may change in the future is to use climate models.

These are essentially simulations of the Earth’s climate system. They are made up of millions of lines of computer code which represent the physical processes which govern our atmosphere and oceans.

Supercomputers then run the code using observations of modern day climate, with the models able to recreate the past (hindcasting) or give projections of the future (forecasting).

Looking at the past is important for understanding historical changes and influences on climate, and it also allows scientists to gauge how accurate the models are (by comparing model output to reality).

Looking at the future enables researchers to see how things might change given various different scenarios – such as changing levels of greenhouse gases.

The Met Office uses models to look at many different timescales and to study different aspects of the Earth’s climate system.

You can find out more about how climate models work in our YouTube video.



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