Forecasters in residence
18 July 2012
From Heathrow Airport to the Highways Agency, the Met Office has forecasters 'embedded' within organisations across the UK and abroad. Forecasters Dan Boon, Gordon McKinstry, Emily Gibson and Mark Sidaway explain how the close working relationships this forges make all the difference to customers' operations.
It's a well-known fact that weather conditions can change in what seems like an instant. For some organisations, knowing exactly what the weather is doing, and how it's shifting moment by moment, can be critical for day-to-day security and efficiency. This is where Met Office embedded forecasters come in.
"The on-site forecaster's advice is immediate," says Dan Boon, currently stationed at Heathrow Airport's Operational Efficiency Cell (HOEC). "With some customers requiring fairly continuous, on-site support, having an embedded forecaster on board provides direct access to dedicated meteorological consultancy advice and guidance."
Similar stories emerge wherever Met Office's forecasters are on-site. In the North Sea, Gordon McKinstry is helping one of the world's largest crane vessels, the Saipem 7000, to successfully support oil rig construction. "The marine operation with Saipem S7000 can be very weather dependent," says Gordon, "so we always look for weather windows that can save clients vast amounts of time and money."
"With some customers requiring fairly continuous, on-site support, having an embedded forecaster on board provides direct access to dedicated meteorological consultancy advice and guidance."
At the Highways Agency, Mark Sidaway and the Met Office team are making sure the road network is prepared for adverse conditions. "If there's severe weather, like strong winds or heavy snowfall, it starts causing congestion and accidents on the network," says Mark.
"Our role is to give the Highways Agency and motorists as much warning as possible and hopefully alleviate some of the problems."
Likewise at RAF Coningsby, direct access to forecaster Emily Gibson and the station's Met Office team is helping pilots successfully pursue their training.
"Being instantly available to the trainers means they can make quick decisions, allowing them to meet their objectives and keep to their training schedules," explains Emily.
"If the plan for the day is to go east, but we look at the forecast and recommend going west, we can show them the reasons behind the recommendation straightaway."
Greater efficiency - and managing risk
Most importantly, having an embedded forecaster on board is not just helping increase efficiency and reduce costs. The timely advice is also managing risk - as Gordon explains when describing the risks of building an oil rig:
"When the Saipem 7000 is in the middle of putting a 10,000 ton topside module in place, or moving people across in a basket, if the wind suddenly comes up, the vessel could be in a position where it can't move away from the oil rig quickly enough. That's why what we do is critical - and a great responsibility too."
It's a sentiment all four embedded forecasters share - alongside the satisfaction of instant feedback and appreciation from clients who know they play such a vital role.