Chris Bell (who may be familiar from his TV appearances as a weather forecaster on Look East) spoke to us about meteorology. Chris is one of the directors of Weatherquest (a private weather forecasting company) and he also lectures in meteorology at the UEA.
It was fascinating to learn of the many areas of life where detailed, localised weather forecasts are needed, e.g. in agriculture (e.g.: should a farmer avoid spraying his crops on the following day?), renewable energy (will it be too windy for maintenance crews to work safely on the turbines?), ports (will the sea swell be too high or choppy for certain ships to enter industrial dock areas?) and so on.
There are many steps to be taken before a weather forecast is issued, e.g: observations of the atmosphere, temperatures, wind, rainfall, visibility, air pressure, clouds, sunshine and solar radiation. Formerly these details were all plotted on charts but now this is all done on computers. Satellites are also used, to measure winds at different levels in the atmosphere, and also to measure sand or salt content in the air.
Interestingly, Chris referred to the ‘weather event’ in 1987 when the TV weather forecaster Michael Fish said that there would not be a hurricane the next day. Apparently, Michael Fish was correct – he had been talking about something coming across the North Atlantic and which was not, technically speaking, a hurricane. This was an extremely informative and well-illustrated talk and Chris was thanked by the chairman and all present.
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