150 years of forecasting for the nation

The Met Office is celebrating 150 years of forecasting for the nation

1 August 2011 - The Met Office is celebrating 150 years of forecasting for the nation as it marks the anniversary of the first ever weather forecast appearing in print.

Starting with the lines "general weather probable in the next two days", the short piece which appeared in The Times in 1861 was a bold move which started forecasting as we know it today.

It was put together by Robert FitzRoy, a captain in the Royal Navy and a pioneer in the field of meteorology who headed up the department which later became the Met Office.

John Hirst, Chief Executive of the Met Office, said: "We're extremely proud of our long heritage and to be marking this landmark anniversary of forecasting for the nation.

"Ever since our humble beginnings, the Met Office has been a pioneer in the science of meteorology. Forecasting the very variable British weather is always testing but by facing that test every day we have established a reputation around the world as being amongst the very best at what we do.

"Most of all, we're proud to have stayed true to our origins by forecasting what the weather has in store to help safeguard lives and property."

To mark the event, the Met Office is launching a photo competition asking the public to put forward pictures which define weather moments of 2011 so far, as well as a timeline of major events in forecasting over the last 15 decades.

The inspiration for FitzRoy's first forecast came from the desire to protect life and property. In 1859 a storm wrecked the ship Royal Charter and many others, costing the lives of hundreds of people.

He believed this kind of event could be forecast in advance - giving people the necessary time to prepare. This belief led to his first public forecast in 1861.

Met Office celebrates 150 years of forecasting for the nation
On the 1st August, 2011, the Met Office will be celebrating 150 years of forecasting for the nation. To celebrate, we're going to look back at the history of the Met Office and some key events along the way.

Celebrating 150 years of forecasting for the nation transcript Celebrating 150 years of forecasting for the nation transcript (PDF, 104 kB)

Since then forecasting has stayed at the forefront of scientific and technical development, embracing advances such as chaos theory, supercomputers, satellites, and even mobile internet to transform the way forecasts are created and delivered.

During that time forecasts have had a huge impact - from advising of a weather window for the D-Day landings to giving advance warning of the terrible floods in Cumbria in November 2009.

The first daily weather forecast, The Times, 1 Aug 1861 The first daily weather forecast, The Times, 1 Aug 1861

Internal link icon150 years of forecasting for the nation photo competition

Internal link icon150 years of forecasting for the nation timeline

Internal link iconHistory of the Met Office

Contact information

Met Office Press Office: +44 (0)1392 886655

E-mail: Press Office

Met Office Customer Centre: 01392 885680

If you're outside the UK: +44 1392 885680

Last updated: 19 September 2011