A year in the life of the Met Office

The Met Office’s Annual Report and Accounts for this year have now been published and are available to view on our website.

Detailing our financial performance and business achievements from April 2010 to March 2011, they tell the story of another busy year in the world of weather in which the Met Office has marked considerable achievement.

For the second year running, the Met Office has exceeded all of its Business Performance Measures, including its weather forecasting targets and business profitability.

Despite difficult economic conditions, we returned £8.2 million (up from £4.5 million in 2009/10) as a dividend back to our owner, the Ministry of Defence. The majority of our growth has been in commercial revenue streams, increasing by £2.9M to £32.2M. Overall, our staff numbers have decreased slightly on last year.

This business performance was achieved while reducing our impact on the environment, as we marked a reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions over the previous year.

We have widened the services we offer, too. We increased the number of location forecasts we provide in the UK from 480 to 5,000, so people can get a forecast closer to home. We have added even more resources to our website and have continued to extend and improve our smartphone forecast apps, helping to make our iPhone app one of the top five most popular in the UK. This all means people can get the information they need, when they need it.

The range of our products and services has increased as has our forecasting quality, allowing us to support UK businesses to maximise their impact and to help with UK economic growth.

We have responded to a range of events over the year, starting with the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Iceland. Here we responded quickly and efficiently to meet the changing requirements of regulators and the airlines. The year also saw some extreme weather across the world, including record-breaking temperatures and widespread monsoon flooding in Pakistan; heatwaves and wildfires in Russia; flash flooding and mudslides in China: and drought, followed by flash floods, in Niger. In Japan, the devastating series of earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear events also provided challenges.

In each of these events, we worked very closely with our customers and international counterparts to offer assistance whenever and wherever we were needed.

In the UK there were more weather extremes, as the winter marked the coldest December for 100 years – with temperatures struggling to get above freezing during the day and regularly falling to below -10°C and -20°C overnight.

It is a source of pride to us that the Met Office continues to be very highly trusted by the British people and that we are respected for our expertise. They rely on the information we provide, and particularly trust us when it counts. This was in evidence during the heavy snow, when we dealt with unprecedented demand – recording 19 million hits on our website.

We accurately forecast 12 of the 13 big weather patterns that blasted the UK last winter and 80% of people surveyed said they were aware of the warnings we put out and 95% of those found the warnings useful.

Over the year ahead, we’re looking forward to continuing our hard work to serve our customers, provide value for money and build on our reputation as one of the most respected forecasters in the world.

The report: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/h/l/ARA2011.pdf

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