I was shocked when I heard that the Met Office had lost its forecasting contract with the BBC, not least because many of the commercial weather forecasters are still using much of the Met Office data.
It is an extraordinary move to end almost a century of links between the two because Britain’s weather is so particular. We are a small land mass in a large body of water and we have such a disparity and range in weather on any given day. Foreign forecasters won’t understand the conditions in the UK as they often look at “impact weather” – hurricanes and typhoons – which we obviously don’t experience here.
You can have a glance at Europe and you immediately have an idea of the weather there. Whereas tomorrow, for example, there will be two different pressure systems over Britain. We have got a very diverse meteorological situation in the UK and you just can’t broad-brush it.
Using foreign forecasters would mean the BBC just wouldn’t have the nuances to predict weather here. You could spend half an hour doing a detailed forecast for the UK.
It could be that the BBC plans to concentrate on weather forecasts online and on mobile apps.
It will certainly lead to a less-detailed forecast on the TV. But we need detailed TV forecasts. If you look back to the hurricane of 1987, so many things have changed since then. The data the Met Office now uses is collected from aircraft, buoys out at sea and ships. This information is pertinent to the UK and not anywhere else. And I can’t see any other forecasting body being that diligent and collecting that data to build accurate forecasts.
News that people at the Met Office are gutted does not surprise me. I have long and happy memories of working with the Met Office at the BBC; it gave its forecasts authority and credibility.
Jo Wheeler has been a weather presenter with Sky News for 21 years. She previously worked with the Met Office at the BBCReuse content