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Planning Retirement Online

Weather Forecasting


October 2012  

You can never lose interest in our weather

Weather mapSo, are we going to have a cold winter, lots of snow and ice?

The truth is that despite all the science and research, even the top weather forecasters can’t be totally confident about the weather that will hit us in the next few months.

Weather is very important in all our lives and affects almost every aspect, from growing crops to the cost of day to day living to our emotions.

People have been trying to forecast the weather for thousands of years. In 650BC the Babylonians used to rely on cloud patterns to predict weather changes and since then people all over the world have used various ideas and clues to work out weather forecasts.

Of course there were all sorts of crazy ideas about weather, but also some very intelligent methods were used. Along with Aristotle, the Chinese and Indians all devised complex weather prediction methods and as early as 904AD the Iraqi agriculturalist Ibn Wahshiyya discussed weather forecasting related to changes in the atmosphere.

Over the years the science of forecasting steadily developed. Francis Beaufort (whose name is remembered in the Beaufort scale still used to identify wind speeds) added a lot to forecasting knowledge and by 1925 radio forecasts were being made in America.

Since then of course weather forecasting has developed into the science of meteorology - or the Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere.

With modern equipment and computer analysis, weather forecasting today is indeed a complex science and generally forecasting is fairly reliable when relating to general patterns. Micro forecasting, or predicting exactly where those showers will fall, is still very much hit and miss and of course sometimes the forecasters, thanks to the fickleness of our ever moving atmosphere, get it all dramatically wrong.

No wonder weather is such a great topic and conversation piece. Today, along with the forecasts on tv and radio, there are some excellent websites that can provide lots of information about weather all over the world with fascinating statistics and stories.

These include the Met Office at www.metoffice.gov.uk which provides a wealth of information not only on current weather here and around the world, but also tips to cope with bad weather, pollen forecasts, details of upcoming events that may be affected by weather and a host of other detail. It has good information and links to more dedicated sites concerning climate change and an excellent education section if you would like to learn more about weather and weather forecasting.

One weather site I like is www.weathercast.co.uk which, along with all the expected data, has a nice weather news section covering interesting aspects such as signs of winter weather,what has been happening around the world and weather records. Through a link on its site you can also reach uk.meteoarchive.com/overview.html which offers accessibility to worldwide historical weather data. It is really interesting to see that what we feel must have been the wettest period this side of Noah’s flood was actually drier than a very damp spell last century.

The satellite pictures on the weathercast site are particularly interesting as they show the weather coming in across the whole of Europe which gives a really clear idea of what is happening - it is also rather annoying as it demonstrates clearly that the UK is just 1000 miles too far north and right slap bang in the path of all these weather systems swirling up from the Atlantic.

Weather is still one of the most popular themes for British conversation, and now, with the added knowledge and data available, the topic of our weather has never been more interesting.

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