Frequently asked questions
Q - I'm having problems displaying the new site
A - Please refer to Help using this site for advice.
Q - Why have you updated your web site?
A - We have given our web site a fresh new look as well as adding new content, improving the navigation and functionality and making use of new technology.
Q - What are the changes?
A - The key changes are:
- Updated web site look and feel -We have now launched our new web site after running it in Beta for the past six months to gather feedback. The web site has a refreshed look and feel as well as improved navigation and new content.
- New homepage - The home page has been redesigned based on your feedback to include much more weather information and a new 'widget' style approach which allows you to select what information you see. Over the coming year we expect to introduce more of these tailored to specific uses for example Pollen count for hay fever sufferers.
- Improved navigation - We have taken on board feedback to improve the navigation. You can now get a quick view of your key weather information from the homepage and get to more detailed content in less than three clicks. We have grouped weather content together in a tabbed approach to make it easier to swap between different content e.g. mapped or tabulated forecasts. All content can easily be accessed using the new menu bar navigation.
- Increased customisation - We have increased the customisation options so that you can decide what content you would like to see on your weather pages. You can switch off content which is not of interest to you and choose your units for temperature, wind speed etc.
- Increased number of forecast sites - We now have forecasts available for over 5000 locations around the UK, matching that on our mobile platforms. This includes an additional 450 beach locations as part of our new beach safety content. This means you have access to more localised forecasts for your place of interest. We have included a range of places including residential locations, places of interest, beaches and mountain summits.
- Pan and zoom maps - We have incorporated pan and zoom maps on our weather pages, so that your can navigate quickly and easily around the UK and zoom in on areas of interest, allowing you to see more detailed information for your area.
Q - Why have you made these changes?
A - There are a number of reasons we have made these changes:
- Feedback - We regularly receive feedback on our web site together with suggestions for additional content. We have incorporated the main points of this feedback in our new website design and content for example easier navigation and more forecast locations. Consultation has been carried out over the past 12 months with key stakeholders across all areas of our business to identify the information you need and expect to find when visiting our website. We have incorporated the main findings from this consultation for example extending three hourly forecasts out to five days ahead.
- Science and technology advances - Since we last updated our web site there have been significant advances in both science and technology leading to the development of new products and ways of displaying content. These have been showcased on the Invent section of our website over the past 18 months for example new temperature range forecasts and timelines and have received good feedback. Now we are moving much of this work on to our main operational web site.
Q - What are the benefits of the changes?
A - The site will help to bring the following benefits to you as a visitor to our web site:
- More relevant content
- Customised to your requirements
- Improved presentation
- Easier and quicker navigation
Q - Can I still use the old site?
A - There is still some content to move across, so the old site will remain until this has been migrated to the new site. We expect to remove the old site during 2013. We would encourage you to use the new web site for the latest information and to update any bookmarks that you have.
Q- I can't find some of the content previously available
A - Some non-safety critical content may disappear temporarily as we edit the website and re-order content. If you have specific concerns about content then please contact us.
Q - How can I provide my feedback on the new web site?
A - Please use the Feedback form.
Q - What will happen to Invent?
A - Invent will return to being a showcase for new developments in technology and presentation. Any weather content information which was previously on Invent has been incorporated into the new web site.
Q - Where can I find more information about the new web site?
A - There are a number of sources of additional information.
Q - Will all of the existing weather content be migrated across to the new site?
A - Yes it is our intention to move all of the existing weather content across. However, in some cases this may appear differently due to the new improved presentation and navigation. There is still some weather content to be moved across, e.g. general marine and climate information; this will be migrated across later in the year. It can still be accessed on the old site until it moves across and will be accessible via the main menu.
Q - Which browsers does the web site work on?
A - The new web site should work on all of our supported browsers.
Q - Why do I not get a good experience when I visit the new site on my mobile phone?
A - Our web site is designed to be accessed on a standard desktop rather than a mobile phone. We now have a range of options for mobile users including:
We would recommend you use one of these methods to access our weather information on your mobile phone. In many cases if you access our web site on a mobile device you will be redirected to our mobile site.
Q - Can I still translate my content into Welsh and Gaelic like on Invent?
A - Yes. From your homepage click on the 'customise the site' tab in the bottom menu. You can then select your preferred language. Please note that only selected key content will be translated.
Q - I still use dial up to access the internet, which means that I find it impossible to access the site. I sometimes also experience problems on broadband as the site can be very slow to load. Why?
A - As part of the web refresh, in response to user feedback, we introduced more interactive features, such as the map pages in the weather section. These result in more data having to to be downloaded to your PC. With dial-up connections, which have slower connection speeds than a broadband connection, only a limited speed of download can be achieved, and so it takes longer for the web pages to load on your PC.
This also applies to broadband in some areas because if the broadband is heavily used or the service has a low band-width then the amount of data which can be transferred is quite low and so the pages will take a longer period of time to load.
If you are experiencing these problems, you could look at our
mobile site, which provides some weather information. Longer term we are looking at producing a more general cut down version of site that can be used on slower connections.
Q - Why do I need Cookies to use the customising features throughout the site?
A - Cookies are used to save your settings for features such as the customisation and page display options on our website. If you have specifically chosen to clear Cookies when you exit your browser, these settings will be lost and you will have to reset these each time you visit the site.
Q - Why do we use Analytics and Analytic cookies?
- We want to ensure that users have a good experience when using our web site and can easily find the information that they are looking for. To enable us to understand how the the site is being used, and to identify what users are looking for, we use a web analytics service, supplied by Webtrends, to provide metrics on the use of the site. This enables us to see which areas of the site are being used often, and where users are having difficulty in finding information. We then feed this back into the development cycle to try to improve the user experience.
In addition, as a government web site, we have to provide information annually to the Cabinet Office on the number of visits and unique visitors to the site. We use the Webtrends analytics to provide these figures. Webtrends uses a
to collect this information. This information is anonymised and used statistically. We cannot identify individual users from these data. Webtrends analyses the data solely on our behalf and the individual data are not provided to any other person or organisation.
Q - Why are there differences between your symbol forecasts and your map-based forecasts?
A - Our symbol forecasts are updated every hour to provide you with the very latest and most accurate information. Our rainfall and cloud map forecasts are currently updated every 6 hours. This sometimes results in differences between the two sets of information and we are working to address this.
Q - Why are the surface pressure charts in black and white?
A - Surface pressure charts covering Europe and the North Atlantic are used by many people particularly those involved in outdoor activities such as sailing and walking. The charts are also used for educational purposes and by weather enthusiasts. The black and white view was introduced so that specialist users could benefit from a clearer chart containing additional detail. Following feedback we have added a colour version.
Q - Why have you changed the radar sequence to 3 hours?
A - The mapped view of observations (historical weather) includes radar information which displays precipitation across the UK during the past 3 hours. The new mapped view provides an option to pan and zoom the map. To reduce the amount of data which is downloaded by the user a 3 hour time duration was chosen as a compromise between performance (for users accessing via slower connections) and duration of sequence.
Q - Why does my location keep returning to City of London?
A - When designing the new web site we sought feedback from users to find out what features they wanted to see included. A recurring request was the option to customise the site including selecting a preferred forecast site. Our site achieves this by saving a cookie (a piece of data which is stored by the web site on the users' device) which includes details of the selected site. Some users ask their web browser to not accept cookies which prevents this information from being stored. We use the City of London as a default location in those cases when a user has selected not to save cookies. This location was chosen because it reflects the most commonly accessed forecast on our web site.
Q - Why have you reduced the time steps for which satellite pictures are available?
A - The mapped view of observations (historical weather) includes satellite pictures for the past 2 hours, in 15 minute time steps. This mapped view provides an option to pan and zoom the map so that a user can focus on particular region. To reduce the amount of data which has to be downloaded by the user a 2 hour time duration was chosen as a compromise between performance (for users accessing via slower connections) and duration of sequence.
Q - Why have you changed your 5-day forecast page?
A - We provide forecasts for around 5500 locations in the UK and 5000 international locations. These forecasts are updated every hour and are provided out to 5 days ahead in 3 hour time steps. The first time step displayed in the sequence is several hours in the past which provides continuity between recent past weather and the forecast. There is a lot of information to provide and usability testing indicated that an efficient and intuitive way to provide this was via a series of tabs, one valid for each of the 5 days. This does mean that it is not possible to display a 5 day forecast covering all of the UK from a single view, however for your selected site, the dominant weather type for each of the days is displayed within the tab itself.
Q - How do I access your aviation and mountain forecasts?
- Please use our Aviation service page to access your aviation forecasts.
- Our mountain forecasts can be accessed from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/mountain-forecast/
Q - How do I access your regional forecasts?
A - Our new web site works on the principle of a user selecting their location and the website providing relevant information for this location in a consistent, integrated way. For example, if a user selects Glasgow, content (forecast and observed weather) that applies to Glasgow or nearby will be automatically provided to the user via the home page, UK forecast and UK observations pages. This content includes our regional forecasts, with the most appropriate forecast provided to the user based on their selected site.
Q - Where can I find the UK forecast for days 6 to 15 and days 16 to 30?
A - On the Met Office homepage scroll down to the regional forecast widget. Click on the grey bar that says "Get regional forecast for [for example South West England]". Click on the third grey tab on the regional forecast that says "UK forecast Day 6 to 30".
Q - Why do gusts only over 20 mph appear in the forecast symbols?
A -A gust is only reported in a weather observation when it exceeds the mean speed by 10 knots (11.5 mph) or more. The mean speed is measured over a 10 minute period preceding the time of the report.
Therefore for a gust of over 20 mph to appear the mean speed will usually have to be 8.5 mph or more.
It is very rare in the UK for a gusts to exceed 20 mph when the mean speed is less than 8.5 mph.
Q - How often are our forecasts updated?
A - The Met Office uses many and varied types of information to produce our forecasts. Visitors to our website can be assured that what they view is always based on the latest available information which contributes to the regular updating of our forecast and observation pages.
To view PDF documents you will need Adobe Reader.
Last updated: 8 March 2013