Our role during challenging weather

Ice and snow affecting the UK

As the UK's official weather service we play a vital role in helping the country be aware of, and cope during, times of extreme weather. This role extends to passing on the best possible knowledge about the way the global climate is changing.

Day-to-day forecasts

Our main job is to provide UK forecasts and warnings 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

High performing forecasters

  • Number 1 - Our excellent forecast performance means we are ranked alongside the Japanese as the best weather service in the world.
  • Good advice, days ahead - 12 of the 13 big weather patterns that blasted the UK this winter were forecast well by us.

Realistic forecasts - doing the best

"The Met Office's Public Weather Service is now a well established, internationally recognized and admired service that sets weather forecasting standards across the world. We believe that the public weather service the Met Office provides to the UK is one of the best in the world."

Cabinet Office

We can't promise to be 100% accurate - no real weather forecaster can because of the chaotic nature of our atmosphere. However, we can promise to get the very best warnings and forecasts out to you, in whatever format you need. For example, on a peak day we can receive around 13,000,000 visits to our website.

Delivered to you

We work in partnership with others to deliver forecasts where they are needed. Whether you are flying over the Atlantic; dropping the children off at school on a frosty morning, or making operational decisions in an energy plant, our forecasts are likely to be involved.

We work with resilience agencies to help keep you safe when severe weather is expected:

In the first week of February, following advice from us, more than 115 winter vehicles were on hand to respond to the severe weather expected in Scotland.

Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "Our multi-agency response team has been activated ahead of the forecast snow to manage circumstances as they unfold, and ensure a co-ordinated approach to dealing with any issues as they arise."

Our expertise is also relied upon at an international level.

Airlines - our unrivalled accuracy and aviation expertise means that every airline uses our forecasts.

Abroad - we train hundreds of the world's top forecasters, with Australia, for example,  now using our forecasting model.

Armed forces - we work hand in hand with the armed forces, providing vital intelligence to aid military decision-making and protecting Britain's troops.

Listening to you

We listen closely to your views and are grateful for your trust in us: more than 90% of you who were surveyed by us value and take notice of our warnings.

Of course, in the current economic climate, it isn't enough to be trusted and respected - we need to show that we offer value for money and a return to the taxpayer. Our trading fund status enables us to put the public interest first while generating revenue for the public purse through the wide range of services we offer to businesses and organisations in the UK and across the globe.

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Longer range forecasts

We provide a range of longer range forecasts, from 6 to 30 days for you, and even longer range forecasts (up to three months) for some specialist users. We know from research that you prefer the monthly forecasts.

This winter, the Met Office's 16 to 30 day outlooks highlighted the cold weather experienced in late November and through December.

Uncertainties can arise

Outlooks for three month periods carry significant uncertainty, wherever you are in the world, and we know from public research that you understand that forecasts become less certain the further out you go.

Climate observations and forecasts

In 1990 the, then, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opened the Met Office Hadley Centre to research long term climate trends and what they would mean for us all.

High performing scientists

  • Leading - The Met Office Hadley Centre quickly established its reputation as the foremost climate research centre in the UK.
  • Number 1 - Our geophysical research is now ranked as Number One in the world, beating Harvard University.

Trusted advisers

We are commissioned by Government to represent and support UK science, for example at the IPCC, and to inform international climate negotiations.

Map of the impacts of a four degree change in climate Sir John Beddington, the Government's Chief Scientist has said: "The Met Office Hadley Centre provides essential and world-leading climate modelling services to Government... with a central role of meeting the Government's requirements for climate evidence and advice."

We also advise about the impacts that a changing climate might have on:

  • Energy
  • Flooding and coastal defences
  • Farming
  • Water and food security around the world
  • Health

Reliable scientific evidence

As well as temperature changes, we are observing changes in ocean salinity, humidity and sea-ice extent - all consistent with a warming world.

However, despite a near universal science consensus on climate change, still not everyone is convinced. We provide climate resources on our website to aid in a greater understanding of the climate system and its changes, so individuals can separate the facts from the fiction.

Special forecasting services

From volcanic ash to blue tongue the Met Office provides warnings on a range of natural hazards that may affect the UK.

Always doing more

We are not complacent and seek to further improve our forecast accuracy through research, investment in satellite remote sensing and supercomputing technology. We work with a range of partners too, in order to extend the value of our advice.

Last updated: 25 September 2013

From science to service - The work of the Met Office
This video explores the varied work the Met Office does and how we are trusted to provide authoritative services built on unrivalled science, helping the UK be more efficient, resilient and sustainable.