Weather and forecasts

Questions and answers

1. Is there a guide which helps me to view and understand the observations and forecasts?

Yes, you can see the guide by clicking on the blue '?' symbol (next to the blue 'Key' symbol) on the map section of the forecast pages. Alternatively click the link below to visit our weather information page

www.metoffice.gov.uk/guide/weather/uk-forecast

2. Is there a guide which helps me to view and understand the weather warnings?

Yes, you can see the guide by clicking on the blue '?' symbol (next to the blue 'Key' symbol) on the map section of the weather warnings pages. Alternatively click the link below to visit our weather warnings information page.

www.metoffice.gov.uk/guide/weather/warnings

3. The weather forecast pictures don't match what's going on outside my window.

Firstly, ensure you are looking at the latest picture by pressing Ctrl and Reload/refresh. The weather symbols are valid for the time shown above the map. The associated text should always be read as this will expand and amplify the graphic. The regional text forecasts are updated twice a day at approximately 04:00 and 16:00, unless there is a significant change in the forecast when it will be updated to reflect the change. The 6 to 15 and 16 to 30 day Outlooks are updated once a day at approximately 12:00.

4. What is the weather like at .....?

Get the latest forecast or observations for the UK or around the world from the Met Office weather pages, under the Weather tab. The past weather pages also give a brief overview of the climate of various regions round the world.

The Met Office weather pages can be found at www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/

However, if you want detailed climate values for a specific place try World Climate. You can enter a location when prompted and this then provides long-term average values for daily maximum and overnight minimum temperatures, also rainfall, on a monthly basis. Remember that these are averages and that there can be significant variations from these figures.

5. What do the weather symbols mean?

You can see what the symbols mean by clicking on the blue 'Key' symbol (next to the blue '?' symbol) on the map section of the forecast pages. Alternatively you can go the guide www.metoffice.gov.uk/guide/weather/symbols

6. What is the wind-chill factor?

The wind chill or wind chill factor is the apparent temperature felt by warm blooded creatures - primarily humans - during cold and windy conditions. However, many factors contribute to the degree of discomfort experienced by human beings, including cold windy conditions, insulation, humidity, the quality and amount of clothing worn, body temperature, physical fitness, metabolic rate and psychological condition of the subject.

7. What are jet streams?

Jet streams are ribbons of very strong winds which move weather systems around the globe. They are found 9-16 km above the surface of the Earth, just below the tropopause. The position of a jet stream varies within the natural fluctuations of the environment. They are caused by the temperature difference between tropical air masses and polar air masses. What happens in one part of the world depends on what is happening elsewhere - the atmosphere is a complete environment with numerous connections.

8. How do you define a white Christmas?

For many a white Christmas means a complete covering of snow, ideally falling between midnight and midday on the 25th. However, the definition used most widely, notably by those placing and taking bets, is for a single snow flake (perhaps amongst a shower of rain and snow mixed) to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25 December.

Last updated: 8 May 2012