The biggest fog patch that you’re ever likely to see!

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According to Ben Rich and Holly Green on the BBC TV weather at lunchtime, this big blob over Dorset, Somerset and East Devon is just a fog patch, well you could have fooled me! Here are the latest observations from 1400 UTC, I would suggest if it’s not budged all day, and as it’s now 1500 UTC, it might even thicken up a bit, not that I want to tell you how to do your jobs that is.

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Fog in the southwest slow to clear

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View from the Beacon above Bradninch this morning

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If anything this morning’s fog has become a lot more widespread over Dorset and Somerset, and as temperatures are still sub-zero at places such as Yeovilton, it could still be of the freezing variety. In East Devon the fog has thickened up as the temperature went above zero, and the visibility at 1230 was probably around 200 metres with the sky obscured. A quick walk up to the Beacon (our local viewpoint at ~215 M) revealed that the inversion here at that time must have been at the 600 feet level, although it was a fuzzy rather than a sharp inversion if the makes sense, but the sun was shining from a lovely blue sky.

I’ve just been watching Ben Rich on the BBC TV forecast at 12.57 PM, and obviously he can do the weather forecast without looking at the latest observations or satellite imagery, because he never even mentioned that Exeter airport (-0.3°C and 100M) and Yeovilton (-1.4°C and 50M) are still in fog – quite incredible! He did manage to say in his intro though that he was a Weather Forecaster, and as far as they were concerned, today was the start of meteorological winter.

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No blackfrost this morning in Bradninch, just fog and a hoar frost as temperatures dipped to -3.6°C overnight. The fog is very easy to pick out in this visible satellite image filling the Exe and Culm valleys, there’s also a strange patch of stratocumulus over Cornwall, where did that come from? Here are the overnight [18-06] minimums from this morning’s SYNOP reports.

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Minus 6, minus 7, maybe even a -8 degrees

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Courtesy of the BBC

How many times do the weather presenters on TV use this old chestnut. I call it either the count-down, if it’s used in the winter for frost, or the count-up, if it’s used in summer for maximum temperatures. I believe there’s a whole chapter on this particular presentation technique in the “The Gamesmanship guide to Weather forecasting” which I’m still waiting to purloin a copy of. In summer there’s the classic “temperatures could reach 22°C or 23°C today, and in one or two places 24°C or 25°C, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 26°C from somewhere in the southeast”. Of course this five level count-up can only be used by the more adept presenter, but as you know it does happen. Anyway I digress, back to the overnight minima!

Certainly a moderate frost inland last night across most of England and Wales away from the coast, but not quite just the “minus 6, minus 7,  maybe even a -8 degrees” from this morning’s 06-18 minimum temperatures in the SYNOP reports, even though Leeming did dip to -6.2°C. Another curate’s egg of a forecast from the Met Office, excellent over the north and northwest of the country but the -7°C over East Anglia was out (-4.1) as was the -8°C in the south Midlands (-4.6), but the -5°C was never on in the southwest (-2.7) just too much wind as David Braine picked up on, and the -2°C just never happened in Northern Ireland (+3.3) and they remained frost-free. Out of the twelve ‘countryside’ minimum temperatures in the frame below, I reckon that at least four out of the twelve are just too low.

I prefer the old school definitions of frost by the way as you may have already noticed, and the definition for a moderate frost when wind speeds are less than 10 knots, are temperatures in a range between -3.6°C and -6.5°C. So in my opinion it’s not a hard frost, or a harsh frost (as I heard it called more than once yesterday on the BBC) but a moderate frost. BBC, please bring back Bill Giles and Michael Fish, it would be great to see them back on our TV screens with the latest graphics even if it’s only as guest presenters!

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Low cloud more persistent that the BBC may have thought

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Today’s persistent low cloud over parts of England and Wales – a mix of stratus and stratocumulus – has been a little more persistent than the BBC weather presenters would have us believe – and ultimately what the Met Office NWP model forecast. Despite TV weather presenters Carol Kirkwood, Darren Bett and Chris Fawkes all promising how the low cloud would readily break up over England and Wales, it’s been stubbornly persistent, although there have been some breaks along the south coast and in the far southwest.

Meanwhile, yet again for the bulk of Scotland (apart from the far north), Northern Ireland, Northwest England and the West of Wales it’s been another beautiful day with gorgeous blue skies and another sharp frost tonight.

The BBC are forecasting more or less clear skies across England and Wales for tomorrow – let’s hope they get that right. Apparently the model is forecasting a cloudy weekend, but the way it’s performing at the moment I wouldn’t bank on it!

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Antarctic sea ice of a 100 years ago at fairly similar levels to today’s

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Courtesy of the BBC

A very interesting news article from Pallab Ghosh on the BBC News this afternoon for anyone interested in the global climate and sea ice. It appears that Antarctic sea ice extents are very similar to what they were a hundred years ago, according to a report that used log books from the early expeditions to the continent.

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Courtesy of the BBC

I would link directly to the article on the BBC news website, but for some reason although the BBC provide a link to allow sharing with other social media apps, strangely they don’t for WordPress.

A rare thing a journalist at the BBC with any meteorological knowledge

I’m being picky again – as is my wont – but the BBC 24 hour news have been running a news item for most of the morning about yesterday’s flooding across the country, and I’ve just found the same article on their website which looks like this:-

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Courtesy of the BBC

In the news item they were implying (and you’ll have to take my word for it) that yesterday’s heavy rain and flooding were caused by Angus, but little did they know or care that Angus has long since departed these waters, in fact at midnight it was approaching Kiruna in Northern Sweden. Yes, I know it’s a technical point and that most members of the general public won’t give a damn, but not for my well-informed readers or the curmudgeonly like me it’s just misleading and not true. It seems like it’s a rare thing to find a journalist at the BBC these days with any meteorological knowledge, perhaps he or she previously worked at the Express and has not had the sensational tendencies knocked out of them yet.

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Mostly dry frost and fog from midweek?

According to Tomasz Schafernaker’s headlines in the BBC weather forecast as 12.55 PM, it will turn “Mostly dry with frost and fog” from midweek. Well that may be true for the bulk of the country north of 53°N, but not for the south if the latest GFS forecast is anything to go by. Thursday looks a particularly kind of bleak day in the south, with strong easterly winds and I don’t see the remotest chance of any overnight fog unless it’s of the high velocity type. In fact, it stays rather breezy in the south right through till next weekend if the GFS model is to be believed.  Meanwhile the weather in Scotland once again looks fine and anticyclonic throughout, at least away from the far north.

Who writes these headlines? A much more accurate headline would have been “Fine in the north windy in the south”.

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The National Weather Video

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I know that I’m always having ago at the Met Office, but I do applaud them for getting Alex Deakin to head the National Video Forecast. What a difference a professional meteorologist and presenter brings to this service. I know the weather video idea has been around for quite a while, but until recently I never really took much notice of it, basically I think because the quality of the presenters – and I here I mean their meteorological rather than their presentational qualities – left you with a half empty feeling. I always enjoy watching a John Hammond forecast, because you know that he is not only interested in the subject but he is also interested in us – his audience.

So 10 out of 10 for Alex Deakin, although I will give him a tip, and that would be one he had  already picked up by now, and that is: always keep a weather eye on Weather Watchers. For example, when he says about today’s weather (18 November 2016) “…further south it’s that much warmer and showers here will be of rain“, have a look at look at Weather Watchers and you’ll notice a number of pictures from Devon of snow falling, lying or both. I have included one taken this morning from Dunkeswell, yes I know Dunkeswell is on a hill but we’ve had several snow showers in Bradninch this morning already, and we’re only 80 M amsl. Of course it’s wet snow and it’s not lying but it’s still snow, but I imagine it could have pretty bad on the higher roads on Exmoor and Dartmoor.

He also talked about very windy weather this Sunday, which doesn’t exactly tie in with Matt Taylor or Helen Willetts who both used the phrase “severe gale”. This difference in emphasis is probably due to the fact that Alex Deakin is situated right next to the forecasting office at Exeter, and he is privy to what the latest thinking is concerning the latest developments of this weekends low, not that the presenters at the BBC in London don’t also have regular contact with Exeter, but they might be slightly busier and under more pressure than Alex Deakin is. I think we may see more divergence in the forecasts that emanate from the BBC and the Met office when MeteoGroup take over the BBC contract next spring. That divergence could of course become a gulf if MeteoGroup don’ use the Met Office NWP output!

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Courtesy of the BBC

The graphics from Visual Cortex are generally excellent except for:-

  • The map projection – which starts off showing a regular map of the whole country, but as soon as they enter animation mode the country tilts 20° and Scotland shrinks back to how it looks in the BBC graphics. Why do they have to view the British Isles at an angle – you can still animate without doing that.
  • The weather fronts – they look crude and the triangle and semi-circles used to depict cold, warm and occluded fronts are too closely spaced and in my opinion look completely ridiculous. Apart from that the front’s never tie in with the rain and occasionally with the isobars which has always been a problem.

 

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Worst of the winds in the channel – shades of 1987?

Courtesy of the BBC

I’ve already blogged this morning about how the Met Office seem to be prevaricating about what will happen with this weekend’s low pressure. Well the prevarication is over and they’ve just announced – courtesy of John Hammond in the 12.57 PM BBC forecast – that the strongest of the winds will stay in the English channel – well probably!

According to the Met Office the strongest winds should be here…

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Courtesy of the BBC

Or less likely they could be here…

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Courtesy of the BBC

It’s a bit like the old joke “I used to indecisive, but now I’m not so sure”. You can’t help but draw parallels with the situation on the 15th of October 1987 and on Sunday the 20th of November 2016 (I always said there was 29 year cycle), when Michael Fish just a few hours before the storm broke, issued these wonderful immortal words: “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!“. That evening as most of you will know the worst storm to hit the southeast of England for many years caused record damage and killed 19 people. Forgive me as soon as I see charts with arrows on I can’t help  but think of Dad’s Army!

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Courtesy of the BBC

And because named storms depend on having what they call multiple “impacts”, this looks like it won’t be a named storm either by the looks of things.  It does make you wonder since they are about to lose the BBC contract just how the Met Office in the future will get these kind of pontifications across to the general public – twitter, Facebook the ITV?

Below is the latest T+72 forecast chart from the ECMWF. Frustratingly they only produces images for the whole of Europe and the North Atlantic and just in 24 hour time steps – come on get real – Brexit has not officially started, and we still pay for this service and we can’t even zoom into different regions of Europe. Having got that off my chest – that chart does seem to support that the strongest gradient will run over northern France, so maybe they’ll be right – time will tell.

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Courtesy of ECMWF

Shrunken Scotland – why?

ITV national weather presenter Lucy Verasamy hosts the new-look forecast. Photograph: ITV

ITV national weather presenter Lucy Verasamy hosts the new-look forecast. Photograph: ITV

I’ve just be reading a little bit more into the news that Met Office have won the ITV contract and found that the mighty Visual Cortex graphics system that is being used looks as if it can only display maps in the Mercator projection! According to the news release from the Met Office, the new graphics system will provide “more lifelike high-resolution maps” – all I can say is that they have a strange idea of what lifelike means!  The brief must have been to simply reproduce the graphics system that has been used by the Met Office for the last 10 years or so, and to be fair they have done a very good job even down to the map projection, and that’s the problem the map projection. The type of Mercator projection they use means that lines of latitude narrow the further north you go, and hence Scotland appears distorted and much smaller than it really is. Many of you will remember that we’ve been down this road before, I think it was in 2005 when the BBC introduced their existing weather graphics system, it frustrated and angered a lot of people, and I really can’t believe the sheer arrogance and stupidity of both organisations in ignoring this issue and doing it all over again!

Maybe it’s because my Father was from Glasgow and I spent 8 years at Kinloss that I have such strong feelings about how Scotland appears in the humble weather forecast, it’s ridiculous I know, but many people probably live in the delusional belief that Scotland is that shrunken bit at the top of the map. I found a wonderful article entitle “Honey I shrunk the country!” on the Bella Caledonia website and the three images below show what the problem is in a nutshell (I hope they don’t mind me using them!).

Courtesy of Bella Caledonia

Courtesy of Bella Caledonia

Courtesy of Bella Caledonia

Courtesy of Bella Caledonia

There is no reason why the Met Office and the ITV couldn’t easily change the type of map projection that is used, but yet again Scotland loses out, this time to another dinosaur, but this time it’s the Met Office and not the BBC. I’m sure people in the south wouldn’t like it if was the other way round and would soon be up in arms if the same thing happened to them. As the writer who wrote the original article on Bella Caledonia said in his article, these maps are both biased and misleading and need to be changed by the BBC and ITV to give a fair and accurate image of Scotland and its place within the British Isles.