The Met Office - producing the world's first daily weather forecasts


The Met Office - producing the world's first daily weather forecasts

The Meteorological Office, usually known as the Met Office, has been going for nearly 170 years. Originally created as a service to mariners, the Met Office has also been crucial to military planning in two World Wars and provides an essential service to international aviation.

The Met Office was founded by Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy in 1854.

Fitzroy was already famous as the captain of HMS Beagle, the ship upon which Charles Darwin travelled around the globe.

The purpose of the Met Office was to learn more about marine weather and to thereby improve the safety of life and property at sea.

In October 1859 the passenger vessel, the Royal Charter, sank off the coast of Anglesey in a violent storm, with the loss of 459 lives. Fitzroy was inspired to set up the first gale warning service - establishing a network of 15 coastal stations from which visual gale warnings could be provided for ships at sea.

This new storm warning service began in early 1861 and is now known as the shipping forecast. It is thought to be the longest running national forecasting service in the world.

Knowing the British national obsession with weather, Fitzroy also established the first public weather forecast service in August 1861.

The Met Office has a long history of defence forecasting. Probably the most important forecasts in history were those used in the days leading up to the D-Day landings in June 1944.

Today, the Mobile Meteorological Unit continues to support armed UK armed forces, wherever they are in the world.

The Met Office purchased its first computer in 1959. These days its four day forecast is as accurate as its one day forecast was 30 years ago.

The Met Office is also one of just two World Area Forecasting Centres that advise airlines operating right across the globe.

Further reading

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