St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice cheque presentation
We were very surprised to learn from our speaker that when the weather forecast is for snow, sales of cat litter surge! As well as providing indoor ‘comfort stations’ for weather-averse cats, apparently it makes a very effective anti-slip coating for paths.
The topic for the talk this month was weather and its forecasting. Helen Roberts, a meteorologist at the Met Office in Exeter, took us through her journey from being a child fascinated by thunderstorms to a career in which she has worked at an RAF search and rescue base, for the Met office twice, and had two spells at the BBC, including four years when she was the weather presenter for Spotlight.
Weather forecasting has moved away from reliance on local people recording weather and sending the information to the Met Office. Now a supercomputer analyses data from many levels of the atmosphere across all the earth’s surface, and can generate forecasts going many years into the future, based on probabilities.
The biggest demand for forecasts comes from aviation, and the Met Office works with a weather station in the USA to provide all the charts used by aircraft. Eurotunnel terminals can be affected by heavy rain, and retailers also rely on forecasts, in relation to transport and stock management issues, as do areas with bridges, in case of crosswinds.
There is a new space weather department, constantly monitoring the sun for solar flares, sunspots etc which might impact on the earth’s magnetic field and cause telecoms and satellite failures. Following the Gloucester floods ten years ago, a flood forecasting centre was established with the Environment Agency.
The causes of thunder and lightning, climate changes, how to understand weather charts, and the dullness of forecasts in the Middle East, because the weather there is constant, were all touched on. And for the gardeners, photographers and walkers among us whose enthusiasm for learning more has been stimulated, Helen told us of a new online course Learning about weather, which will be available on the Met Office website in September, and is particularly aimed at these groups.
This is good news for our new walking and photography groups which will start shortly, joining a wide range of other activity groups.
Members were encouraged to make jam for our stall at the Flower Show in August, and to start making poppies again for our Remembrance Day display in Wellington Park.
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