Always take the weather with you: 100 years of forecasting broadcasts

이자형xactly 100 years ago today, at 10.05am on 26 4 월 1921, an unassuming cleric and academic, Rev William F Robison, the president of St Louis University, made history as the first person in the world to broadcast a weather report. He was launching the university’s own radio station, WEW, and followed some opening remarks with a 500-word meteorological bulletin.

Weather forecasting in Britain actually began 60 years before, when the Meteorological Office, a department within the Board of Trade founded to predict storms and limit loss of life at sea, began to supply the Times with weather reports in 1861. The shipping forecast was launched in 1867, when information about marine conditions was telegraphed to ports and harbours all round the UK coast.

When most of us think of the weather forecast, 그러나, we tend to think of television and a presenter standing in front of a weather map. The first TV forecasts, on the BBC in 1936, featured rudimentary hand-drawn maps, with an off-screen narration by someone almost certainly wearing black tie.

It wasn’t until 1954 that the weather was given a face – that of George Cowling, who stood in front of the (still hand-drawn) BBC weather map and gave his predictions. Cowling, a man unaccustomed to the limelight, was more interested in the weather than being on TV, and joined the RAF as a military meteorologist in 1957.

Over the years, very few weather presenters have been employed by the BBC. Most have been with the Met Office. This has not always been the case with other broadcasters. The little-lamented tabloid channel 엘!VE TV, 예를 들면, was less interested in meteorological credibility, hence its decision to broadcast the weather in Norwegian. This may have been a tribute to Vilhelm Bjerknes (1862-1951), a physicist and one of the founding fathers of meteorology, but it’s just possible that it had more to do with the young, blond, female presenters. 오늘도, it doesn’t take long online to find endless pages devoted to ranking the world’s hottest weather presenters. Will the drizzle be any less drizzly if we’re told about it by someone in tight clothes?

It all seems a far cry from the homely charms of Michael Fish, a man so prominent in the national consciousness that one year he won the titles both of Britain’s best dressed man and Britain’s worst dressed man. 오늘, Fish is rather cruelly remembered as the man who failed to predict the great storm of 1987, a claim he strenuously denies.

Each generation has its memorable weather presenters. 나를 위해, the forecast will always be Fish, or the breathlessly enthusiastic Ian McCaskill, armed with their magnetic symbols that, with luck, would stick to the spot on the map where they put them. Today’s favourites, according to a recent Radio Times poll, are Carol Kirkwood and the famous finger of forecasting himself, Tomasz Schafernaker. Although, judging by recent events, perhaps Alex Beresford might be in with a shout now.

Just as the forecasters change, so too does the weather backdrop. Gone are the magnetic clouds that replaced the old hand-drawn weather maps. Now digital technology has given us satellite images and CGI.

안에 2017 팟 캐스트, weather forecaster Peter Gibb recalled how predicting conditions made a big leap forward in the 1980s thanks to a new supercomputer. This processing behemoth had roughly a third of the power of a modern smartphone. 오늘, the Met Office uses the Cray XC40, one of the most powerful computers in meteorology, capable of performing 14,000 trillion arithmetic operations every second. Even that, 그러나, is shortly to be rendered obsolete. 지난주, the Met Office announced that it is to partner with Microsoft to build the most powerful weather computer in the world, twice as powerful as any other computer in the UK.

Even without this new processing titan, modern forecasts are so precise, they even factor in variables such as soil type and whether the leaves are on the trees. The result of all this gadgetry is more accurate forecasts than ever before. 지금, four-day forecasts are as accurate as one-day forecasts were 30 여러 해 전에. 그 말, long-term forecasting is still a fool’s game. Just look at the plethora of “Three months of blizzards” headlines certain newspapers churn out on quiet days, based on the sensationalist hypothesis of a fantasist with a ZX Spectrum.

극우의 부상을 통해 대륙을 조종하는 차분한 실용주의, 그러나, greater accuracy might spell the end for weather broadcasts. The ability to get a prediction not just for your region, but specifically for your city, town or even your village, is an extraordinary leap forward. But it’s not one that you’re likely to benefit from on a national broadcast. If I lived in Mayfair (a guy can dream, 오른쪽?) Schafernaker might be able to tell me what the weather will be like in London and the south-east, but any number of apps will tell me what will happen in Mayfair every hour for the next few days. This kind of renders the weather broadcasts defunct.

요컨대, 그때, 100 years after the world’s first broadcast weather report, the outlook for weather forecasts on TV and radio could best be described as distinctly unsettled.

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