New Weather Observations Website

The ‘Weather Observations Website‘ (WOW) is a platform that enables anyone to get involved and submit, share and visualise their weather observations.

WOW was launched in 2011 and since then we’ve received over 850 million observations from 200 countries around the world. The platform is now used by National Meteorological Services around the globe including Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

This month we’ve launched the new WOW website which will make it easier than ever to share experiences of the weather and join in the nation’s favourite conversation. The website is easy to navigate and works on whatever platform it is accessed from: PC, mobile or tablet.

As WOW continues to grow we have the potential to collect exciting new weather observations from all around the world. New technology in the latest release will enable us to capture additional sources of observations, such as those provided automatically from moving platforms i.e. cars.

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Using WOW, you can send us local observations of weather in your area. These observations can be ones you have recorded on scientific weather stations or just by looking out of the window or sending in a photo. You can share current weather observations from all around the globe, regardless of where they come from, what level of detail or the frequency of reports.

To provide accurate weather forecasts and to understand the impacts of the resulting weather we need high quality, information-rich global observations. The photographs, videos and information collected in WOW will provide us with a powerful tool to create a more visual, localised picture of the weather and its impacts, enabling us to improve forecasting and warning services to all.

You can hear more about WOW by visiting our stand at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (RSSSE) at the Royal Society in central London between 4th-10th July. We invite you to get involved by sharing your weather impact reports and pictures over the summer!

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Early June 2016 statistics

June, the first month of summer meteorologically speaking, has so far delivered a range of weather with some sunny, warm days but also torrential, thundery downpours leading to localised flooding.

Early figures up until 27 June 2016 reflect this mix of weather and also some stark contrasts across the UK.

Statistics up until 27 June reveal most areas of the UK have seen rainfall above the monthly average, but with much of the rainfall falling as showers there are some locations which have had more than twice the June average, whereas other areas have missed much of the rainfall.

As the rainfall map below shows, away from north-eastern areas of England, much of England and Wales have had a wet month with slow-moving heavy downpours creating a patchwork effect. The counties of Essex and Middlesex are close to recording their wettest June since records began in 1910 with 111.9mm and 112.5mm of rainfall respectively (previous record for Essex 122.5mm in 1958, for Middlesex 123.8mm in 1971).2016_6_Rainfall_Anomaly_1981-2010

Northern, western and southern Scotland have had a rather dry month with around 70% of the average rainfall for these areas, compared to Aberdeenshire which has been very wet recording 142mm making it close to seeing its wettest June on record (151.7mm in 1948). Kincardineshire (138.3mm) is also close to the wettest June on record (144.5mm in 2012).

Across Northern Ireland as a whole, average rainfall amounts have been recorded, although heavy showers led to locally above average totals in Co Londonderry and Co Tyrone.

Mean temperatures for the UK have been above average by 1C, although regionally this varies from 2C above average in some western parts to around average along much of the east coast. The fine, sunny start to the month when the best of the sunshine and warmth was in the west helped boost these values. Shetland in particular has had a very sunny month so far, whereas eastern and southern parts have had a rather dull month with not much more than half the average amount of sunshine typical for June.

2016_6_MeanTemp_Anomaly_1981-2010 2016_6_Sunshine_Anomaly_1981-2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-27 June 2016 mean temp (°C) sun (hrs) rainfall (mm)
Actual Diff from avg Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 14 1 133 78 83.9 114
England 14.9 0.9 126 69 84.3 136
Wales 14.7 1.6 147 85 104.5 122
Scotland 12.4 1.1 142 95 79.4 89
N Ireland 14.4 1.6 126 84 77.2 101

With June almost over, what weather can we expect for the start of July? At the moment it looks likely that the fairly changeable and rather cool conditions will continue into the start of July with a mix of dry, sunny spells and cloudier periods bringing rain or showers. Towards the end of next week, southern parts of the UK may be slightly drier and feel warmer compared to the north but still with the chance of rain at times.

Keep up to date with the latest outlook, including our 30-day forecast, using our forecast pages and our App and by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

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More thundery downpours for some

Last night torrential, thundery downpours affected parts of southern and southeast England causing localised flooding and disruption to transport. The table below shows the rainfall totals recorded:

UK rainfall totals 22 June 7pm – 23 June 9am
Site Area Rainfall total (mm)
SOUTH FARNBOROUGH HAMPSHIRE 45.6
LONDON, ST JAMES’S PARK GREATER LONDON 44.4
ALICE HOLT LODGE HAMPSHIRE 44
WISLEY SURREY 41.4
HAMPTON W WKS GREATER LONDON 40.6
ODIHAM HAMPSHIRE 38
OTTERBOURNE W WKS HAMPSHIRE 37.8
SHOEBURYNESS, LANDWICK ESSEX 34.8
KEW GARDENS GREATER LONDON 34.6
CHARLWOOD SURREY 30.8

The thunderstorms led to some impressive displays of lightning across these areas with over 20,000 strikes recorded over and close to the south of England during the last 24 hours. Many of these strikes were recorded offshore but still led to some remarkable sights in the sky. The image below shows a snapshot of the rainfall radar and lighting strikes at 3.30am BST this morning (Thursday):

lightning230616

Further thunderstorms are forecast to affect the southeast of England and East Anglia this afternoon and evening and National Severe Weather Warnings are in force. Not everywhere will see the torrential rain, but there is the chance of 30mm in an hour with locally in excess of 50mm or more possible over the course of a few hours leading to possible disruption to travel and localised flooding as well as frequent lightning.

For the most up to date forecast for your area this week, download and use our new App, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. You can also keep up to date with the #Weatherstory.

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A mixed June so far

So far in June there has been quite a variation in the weather we have seen. The start of the month brought some warm and sunny weather, especially in the west. However, more recently it has been rather more unsettled with heavy showers for some.

The statistics for 1-15 June show that west has definitely been best for the warmth so far this month. Maximum temperatures here were well above normal, with Argyllshire in western Scotland almost four degrees above the average for June.

Porthmadog in northwest Wales currently holds the record for the highest temperature of the year so far with 27.8C on 5 June, whilst 27.7C was reached at Plockton in northwest Scotland on 10 June.

Meanwhile in the east it has been rather cool by day, due to cloudier conditions and an onshore breeze. As a result, maximum temperatures have been below average in all east-coast counties; by over a degree for both Lincolnshire and East Lothianshire.

june max 17

Across the UK as a whole, the rainfall total is around average for this stage in the month. However, heavy and thundery showers have given localised large rainfall totals, with some surface water flooding as drains have been unable to cope with the high rainfall rates. Parts of Aberdeenshire, Co Londonderry and numerous places in England are already close to the whole month average, with Leicestershire already having seen 29% above.

Conversely there has been very little rain so far in western Scotland and the Western & Northern Isles, also for the west of Cornwall and the south coast from Dorset eastwards.

Maximum temperature Mean    temperature Rainfall
1-15 June 2016 Actual Anom Actual Anom Actual Anom
degC degC degC degC mm %
UK 18.3 1 14.1 1.1 37.3 51
England 18.9 0.3 14.8 0.8 39.9 65
Wales 19.4 2.1 15.3 2.1 54.6 64
Scotland 16.7 1.6 12.5 1.2 27.2 31
N Ireland 20 3.1 15.3 2.6 44.4 58

Looking ahead and after some further heavy showers today (Friday) there should be a brief respite in the weather over the weekend. However, this will be short lived with unsettled weather expected to arrive through Sunday and into the beginning of next week.

Changeable conditions are then likely through the rest of the month, though temperatures will often be above normal over England and Wales.

You can keep up to date with the latest forecast information via our new Weather App as well as on our forecast pages, Facebook and Twitter sites. Our events page also has forecast weather information for a number of events around the country.

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Contrasting weather for Europe this weekend

A developing area of low pressure across central Europe will bring a spell of very unsettled weather across the Alps to the Baltic over the next couple of days, but also introduce increasingly hot conditions to southeast Europe.

Warm and moist air from the central Mediterranean will be drawn northwards across the Swiss-Italian Alps today which is likely to produce some significant rainfall as it rises over the higher ground, in addition to some locally severe thunderstorms. Much of Switzerland and the Italian Lakes are likely to see 50-75mm of rain, but southern slopes of the Alps may see as much as 200-300mm locally, bringing a risk of significant flash flooding and disruption to travel. Faido (TI), Switzerland has already recorded 78mm in 12 hours since rain started to fall on Wednesday night.

The area of low pressure is expected to deepen through Thursday night bringing heavy rain and strong to gale force winds as the system moves northeast across the Czech Republic and Poland on Friday. Whilst this region is not immune to strong winds during the winter, inland gales are very uncommon in the summer and can cause damage and transport disruption due to fallen trees in full leaf. Additionally, some locally severe thunderstorms are likely to develop across a broad region extending from northern Serbia to the Baltic States which bring the threat of damaging wind gusts, large hail and tornadoes.

Through Friday night, this low pressure system continues to move north into the Baltic bringing further heavy rain, scattered thunderstorms and unseasonably strong winds here on Saturday. Following this, there will be some respite across Poland and areas towards the Alps with lighter winds and a scattering of showers.

Meanwhile across southeast Europe, hot air will continue to be drawn north from Africa with temperatures quite widely rising 5-10 Celsius above average over the weekend. This is likely to result in maximum temperatures reaching and locally exceeding 35-40 Celsius across parts of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria and western Turkey. Current forecasts suggest that these very warm to hot conditions are likely to persist into next week too, potentially expanding northwards across much of eastern Europe.

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How the moods of the changeable Pacific influences global temperatures

The warm and cool phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the tropical Pacific are part of the largest climatic phenomenon on earth with the greatest impact on our weather.

Since mid-May 2015 until May 2016, ENSO was in its warm phase – El Niño – which produced warmer-than-average conditions across much of the tropical eastern Pacific to the shores of South America.

The latest El Niño has been one of the strongest on record and this event has caused a significant disruption and socio-economic impacts with droughts in India and Africa, forest fires in Indonesia and floods in South America all arising because of the event. In addition its warming influence has extended to the global climate, boosting the global average temperature helping to push 2015 to be the warmest year on record – following 2014 which was also a record-warm year.

SST anomaly

This diagram shows the average of sea surface temperature anomalies (difference from the 1961-1990 average) from 5°S to 5°N across the Pacific. Data are from the Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Ice Analysis (OSTIA) analysis. The horizontal axis represents longitude and the vertical axis represents time. The weak 2009-2010 El Niño can be clearly observed as well as the prolonged late-2010-2011 La Nina. At the bottom right of the diagram the currently developing cold anomaly can be seen clearly. This feature might become a La Niña.

The first four months of 2016 have been warmer than any equivalent period in the HadCRUT4 record. Climate experts anticipate that the legacy of the latest El Niño is that 2016 could be another record year for global average temperatures and the very high global temperatures in the first four months of the year seem to bear that out. However, ENSO is now transitioning out of its warm El Niño phase, and it is likely to move towards ENSO’s alter ego: La Niña.

If the predicted, cooler-than-average, conditions begin to dominate in the tropical Pacific, it will increasingly tend to suppress global temperatures. This cooling may not arrive sufficiently quickly to bring an end to the run of record-breaking years, however. As Jeff Knight of the Met Office Hadley Centre explains: “The El Niño phase of ENSO may well have run its course for now, but its effects on global temperatures will likely linger for a few months yet, and this, together with the high background level of global warming, could keep the global average temperature high enough to register another record in 2016.” Regardless of whether 2016 is another record-breaking year, it will likely be one of the warmest of a handful of years.

One consequence of El Niño is the suppression of the development of hurricanes in the tropical Atlantic, where La Niña conditions can enhance tropical storm activity. Jeff added: “Potentially, the transition from El Niño to La Niña could happen by the peak of the hurricane season.”

For about half the time, neither El Niño or La Niña are present and ENSO is said to be in a neutral phase. The latest El Niño is the strongest in nearly two decades and is one of the strongest on record.

To dsicover more about El Niño and La Niña, and to see a video animation of each phase of ENSO, please visit our dedicated page.

 

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Global Weather this week – updated 7 June 2016

We might be seeing some heavy showers and thunderstorms here in the UK today, but the weather in other parts of the world is much more volatile with storms, floods and heatwaves.

North America

In North America Tropical Storm Colin affected northern Florida overnight. The storm brought over 100 mm of rainfall in places and winds of over 50 mph. This has led to fallen trees, power outages and some flooding. Colin is now heading out into the Atlantic and as it moves north-eastwards some heavy rain is likely to affect parts of the eastern United States and possibly Canada over the next day or two. Colin will then become a post-tropical system as it moves into the north Atlantic later this week.

Europe  

It continues unsettled across large parts of continental Europe for the next few days. Whilst the flooding in Paris has captured the headlines, parts of Austria, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Romania and Poland have also suffered from severe thunderstorms and flooding in the past couple of days, with Uccle in Belgium seeing over 75 mm of rainfall in 24 hours.

The most intense thunderstorms, focussed across central and eastern parts of France, Belgium, western Germany, Switzerland and northern Italy, may produce as much as 100mm in 3 hours or less, along with large hail and strong winds. This has led to a number of yellow and amber severe weather warnings on MeteoAlarm.

The River Seine in Paris reached its highest level for 30 years on Saturday at 6.1m, and with further heavy rain possible this week, it could take many days before it returns to normal levels.

Australasia

Darwin and the Northern Territories, in northern Australia, have seen record breaking temperatures.  It is unseasonably hot with temperatures around 5C higher than average and temperatures in Darwin on Saturday reached 36.1C, above the June record of 34.9C. It’s thought the spell of hot weather could be partly due to the recent very poor rainy season that has left the ground much drier than usual and may persist for a while meaning health, power supply and water provision may be impacted.

Image courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Image courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Meanwhile in south-eastern Australia a deep slow moving depression off the northeast coast produced large amounts of rainfall, 300mm quite widely, and quite widespread flooding over the last few days. There were also gale force winds, very large waves and coastal flooding. Waves as high as 12m (40ft) caused severe erosion at some of Sydney’s beaches, leaving some houses at risk of collapse. Some low lying areas were evacuated and there was some travel disruption.

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Will summer be a washout or a scorcher?

Summer is a time when many look forward to enjoying the great outdoors, but all too often the British weather can, quite literally, dampen our spirits. The Met Office has just released its contingency planners’ outlook covering the period for June, July and August. So what can we say based on this early look at what might be in store for the summer?

Currently, the chances of what type of weather we will experience appear fairly balanced. While the outlook suggests a moderate increase in the chances of higher-than-average temperatures, that can’t be taken as indicating a strong likelihood of a hot summer. Indeed, the perception of good weather often relates to the seasonal rainfall. For example, even though the UK had a run of ‘poor’ summers between 2007 and 2012, half of these summers had temperatures above the long-term average. Looking forward to this summer, the chances of below- or above-average rainfall appear to be very similar.

It is worth remembering that the outlook is primarily aimed at giving government departments and agencies a forward view of potential weather hazards in the months ahead. As such, it is a risk assessment rather than a more traditional type of forecast of what the weather is going to be. Using evidence from global weather observations and computer forecast systems, we can estimate how the chances of different types of UK weather will be modified in the coming months. This summer, the outlook suggests that the likelihood of these weather types, and the chance of the weather having a serious impact on us, is close to what we normally expect. It is not saying there is no risk, but it indicates there are currently no reasons to think the usual level of risk is either increased or diminished.

Outlooks for last winter and spring contained significant increases in the chances of particular types of weather compared to normal. Specifically, they pointed to an increased tendency of mild, wet and windy weather in early winter followed by a transition to colder conditions in the late winter and spring. This was indeed the pattern of weather in this period: December turned out to be exceptionally mild and wet for the UK, whilst March and April were colder than the long-term average. So why were there signals favouring particular weather last winter and spring but not now as we approach summer?

The answer lies in influences from other parts of the global climate system. We know that weather in the UK can be modified by effects from far across the globe, and generally a number of these factors combine to produce a shift in the chances of getting particular weather. In winter and spring there were effects like the strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and the state of the stratosphere, both of which have reasonably clear-cut effects on weather in those seasons. Since then, however, we have seen El Niño decline, and whilst there is a growing likelihood that its counterpart La Niña will develop over the summer, it has only a weak link to the UK at this time of year. In fact, the various global phenomena that are now present or are expected to develop all appear to have relatively weak effects on UK weather at this time of year.

So will we get heatwaves or downpours? There is always a chance of either – or both – happening at times in summer, but this summer the chances of experiencing them are currently similar to normal. As always, our forecasts from one day to one month ahead can be relied upon to provide the best guidance on what to expect whatever weather patterns emerge.

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Unsettled weather for Europe and further afield

A warm plume of air has extended north from Africa into continental Europe, and is the focus for some potentially severe thunderstorms this weekend. The risk will transfer east from France on Saturday to Germany and the Alps on Sunday then into eastern Europe for the start of next week. These storms will bring the risk of flash flooding, large hail and strong winds.

An area of low pressure and associated active frontal system will bring heavy, possibly thundery, rain to parts of France, Belgium and the Netherlands on Sunday and Monday. Up to two months worth of rain could fall in a few places. However, there is uncertainty in the details of where the heaviest rainfall will fall, but there is a risk of flooding across this part of Europe.

Tuesday and Wednesday also look unsettled with showers or longer spells of rain across much of continental Europe and temperatures below the average for late May / early June across much of western continental Europe.

As a result disruption to play is possible at the French Open in Paris from Saturday through to the middle of next week, with a risk of showers or thunderstorms close to Monaco on Sunday for the Grand Prix. There is even a low risk of a shower for the Champions League Final in Milan, although it should remain dry and very warm here.

Looking further afield and the National Hurricane Center in Miami has stated that there is a 90% chance of a Tropical or Sub-Tropical Storm forming just east of the Bahamas through the next few days. If this storm does form it will be named Bonnie and its likely track takes it northwest around the sub-tropical ridge towards the USA and into the Carolinas later in the weekend, and this could lead to some local flooding to this region.

Although the official hurricane season in the Atlantic does not start until June the first hurricane of the season, named Alex, unusually formed in January and tracked across part of the eastern Atlantic.

The Met Office recently released its seasonal forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season. After a relatively quiet season in 2015 the forecast calls for tropical cyclone activity slightly above normal levels in 2016.

Unsettled conditions are also expected across western parts of the Caribbean through the next 5 or 6 days. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to affect parts of the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic due to a plume of warm air becoming destabilised by cooler air aloft. There is a risk of local flash flooding in this region, with this risk likely to increase next week as the thunderstorm activity becomes more widespread across the region.

Meanwhile in the South China Sea a tropical disturbance is set to bring heavy rain and some flooding to parts of Guangdong province of China. The disturbance is unlikely to have time to become a tropical storm before it makes landfall west of Hong Kong.

Official warnings for the tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are produced by the National Hurricane Center and for the western North Pacific by the Japan Meteorological Agency. 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. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

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Science Camps in full swing

Over 50 students, aged between 11-13, arrived at the Met Office keen to learn about weather and climate science, for the second of this year’s Science Camps!

During the Science Camps students take part in demonstrations and hands-on activities, while camping overnight at Met Office headquarters in Exeter. The activities cover a huge variety of topics to help explain how we understand, measure and forecast both the weather and the climate.

Scicamp1

Andy Brown, Director of Science at the Met Office said: “This year’s Science Camps have been as exciting as ever. Hopefully the activities, such as creating clouds in bottles and learning about our specialised sheep chill forecast, will inspire the students to become interested in science and meteorology.”

It seems as though this has well been the case, with one student saying, “I would love to work here when I am older – it was a great experience I will never forget”, and another adding, “The helpers were great and the activities were endlessly fun! I would SO do it again.”

The teachers also enjoyed the experience and one commented, “The MET Office is such a stimulating environment and the staff were so inspiring, every one of them showed a passion about their work that made all of the workshops engaging and fun.”

The camps take place over a number of weekends throughout the spring and summer terms, and are part of the Met Office STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s) Outreach programme.

From 4-8 July organisations across the UK, including the Met Office, will be participating in Tech Week:  Helping to inspire a new generation of young people about the digital world and change the way young people learn about technology and tech careers.

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