What does a weather forecaster do?

We see them on our televisions, social media and through our apps, but what does the role of a weather forecaster truly involve?

Met Office Chief Forecaster in the operations centre at Met Office headquartersMet Office

How are weather forecasts created?

Creating weather forecasts is a complex process which is constantly being updated. There are three important stages: knowing what the weather is doing now, calculating how this will change in future, using meteorological expertise to refine the details.

Weather presenter in studioMet Office

Knowing what the weather is doing now

Recordings of weather variables are made 24 hours a day across the globe. These are passed to the world's major weather forecasting centres and used in conjunction with satellite pictures to get a picture of what the atmosphere is doing now. These are called observations.

Met Office Cray Super Computer (2020-12-23) by Met OfficeMet Office

Calculating the future

Today, weather forecasting centres like the Met Office have huge supercomputers, which use observations as ‘starting conditions’ for very complex equations to predict where the weather will move, and how it will evolve as time goes on.

Meteorologist in Met Office Operations CentreMet Office

Refining the details

Computer models run several times a day, and meteorologists work 24/7 to check the forecast is going to plan. If it is not, they will amend any forecasts going out if it affects those that rely on them.

Alex Deakin, Met Office PresenterMet Office

How forecasters bring the weather to life

The forecast is much more than some text and symbols, our experienced weather presenters, Alex Deakin, Aidan McGivern and Clare Nasir, bring it to life to help you better understand the weather.

Alex Deakin, Met Office PresenterMet Office

Spotlight on: Alex Deakin, Met Office Presenter

From appearing on Celebrity Mastermind and The Great Sport Relief Bake Off to presenting the weather on Channel 5 and Facebook Live – life for Presenter Alex Deakin is as varied as ever.

“I imagine that I’m talking to a friend – so phrases like ‘occluded fronts’ become ‘it’s a grotty, old day’. And I’ll throw in some dramatic-sounding adjectives to peak people’s interest and keep them watching. You could say that’s my ‘trademark’ style.”

Surrounded by high-tech wizardry at the Met Office, Alex, Aidan, Clare and others create weather forecasts for a range of channels. As well as longer-form forecasts for YouTube and the media, presented forecasts have evolved to include bite-sized versions for social media. Facebook Live's fun, ad hoc format proved popular, and more recently the Met Office team have won awards for their TikTok platform, attracting over 2 million likes and 270,000 followers since its inception in 2020.

Clare Nasir in the weather studioMet Office

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day for our presenters involves more than just presenting, however. Starting the day at a comprehensive briefing from Chief Meteorologists, they use their expert knowledge to support planning for Met Office content throughout the day and explain the forecast to others.

As well as operational duties, they are involved in a number of other projects, with Clare hosting a number of podcasts including Weather Snap and Mostly Climate, Aidan supporting creation of climate change content such as what a forecast may look like in 2050 and helping us create the Very British Weather Book, and Alex collaborating with partners to raise awareness for how to stay safe during all types of weather through Twitter Spaces and video collaborations.

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