Now the weather’s cooled down in the UK, I’m dreaming of travelling somewhere hot and sunny. I often google various dream holiday places and look up the weather. Once we have booked our holiday I inevitably keep checking the weather forecast, especially for out of season holidays. Read on to find out more about short term weather forecasting in this guest post:
So you have booked your holiday accommodation, and now want to know how the weather might be when you are away. Watching the weather report on the TV, it tends to be a continuous stream of weather for the same day, the next day and then a few days ahead, sometimes as much as 10 days ahead of the current point. But did you know that this is actually made up of a series of short term forecasting models that help meteorologists predict what will happen?
The Nowcast or Nowcasting are the predictions for weather from this moment and for the next six hours. It uses the speed and direction of movement of the weather currently hanging over us to predict what will happen in the next few hours. This type of forecast does assume that the weather isn’t going to make any significant changes – like the direction of the wind suddenly changing – as this can have a dramatic and unexpected effect on the weather.
The Met Office uses high resolution model output to create this detailed forecasting and other meteorologists use similar models. The information on these forecasts is updated every hour to improve accuracy.
Short range forecast
The short range forecast goes from six hours ahead to around 3 days from now and takes over from the Nowcast. The Met Office publishes updates on these models several times a day and they are very accurate, meaning the forecast for the next couple of days tends to be very accurate too. While there can be unpredictable elements that make changes, meteorologists are very confident about what they predict for this period.
Medium range forecast
This is the 3 to 10 day weather forecast that looks further ahead to see what might happen. It is broken down into a few parts.
The regional 3-5 day forecast gives a general picture of the regional weather, picking up on differences between the different regions and has a relatively high degree of accuracy. This is followed by the 6-15 day forecast that is a broader description of what the weather should do based on the current information. It is particularly focused on spotting severe weather – heavy rainfall, gale force winds or particular high or low temperatures that people need to be warned about as early as possible.
The longer 10 days onwards forecast is where things become more unpredictable and therefore a little less accurate. Here in the UK, factors such as events over the Atlantic can quickly change the weather over this period. That’s why anything over 5 days is always given as a ‘likely’ status by meteorologists – assuming nothing unexpected comes along.
Long range forecast
Generally, from 10 to 30 days ahead is termed as the long range forecast. In order to predict what weather might be like over this period, the meteorologist will use a range of weather models and data from weather stations around the country and the world. It tends to be more general as specific regions cannot yet be predicted accurately but help to spot those storms and other big weather events that we all want to know about as early as possible.
Where are you travelling next? Will you be checking the weather?