Coronavirus has ‘major impact’ on reliability of weather forecasts — Met Office

Coronavirus is having a "major" impact on the reliability of our weather forecasts, the Met Office has warned.

A number of meteorological agencies get much of their data to help predict the weather from planes flying in the atmosphere.

But when lockdown hit and the aviation industry was all but completely grounded, this left a large gap in the data needed to produce detailed and accurate forecasts.

UK planes flying the trans-Atlantic route are the most valuable as most of our weather systems come in from the west.

During the lockdown, weather experts were forced to rely more on information from satellites to try and fill in the gaps to produce an accurate weather forecast.

A Met Office spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo: "The lack of aircraft was something that had a major impact, it isn't the only source of data we rely on, but we had a fall in those observations.

"Aircraft flying over remote areas of the globe gives us very valuable data that is hard to replicate."

The spokesperson continued: "It wasn't that we didn't know what was going on at all, but when you don't have the volume of planes going over, you don't get the same detail, some of the subtleties were lost, such as where exactly the jet stream was."

  • The eight coronavirus rules that will change today – what you need to remember

As the aviation industry starts to return to normal, some of the missing data is being filled in, but the Met Office says it is always looking for new ways to observe the weather to provide the most accurate and detailed forecast.

Today, parts of the UK were hit with torrential hail, with unexpected thunder and lightning also sweeping across the country.

But the Met Office insists the unpredictable extreme weather wasn't down to the lack of planes, but because thunderstorms have always been difficult to predict.

  • GMB weather girl Lucy Verasamy sets pulses racing in skintight ribbed sweater

The spokesperson went on: "All you need is cooler air and then thunderstorms can form very quickly.

"We always say predicting a thunderstorm is like having a pan of boiling water, you know there will be bubbles coming up in the water, but it's very hard to predict where the bubbles will pop up, especially if it's just the odd rumble of thunder or flash of lightning."

Parts of the UK today are forecast to have the "first frost" of the autumn this week as temperatures plummet.

Ferocious winds and heavy showers are set to continue into tonight with the risk of "possible thunder" in South Wales as well as the south and east of England.

Jo Farrow, Netweather meteorologist, said: "By Thursday an Atlantic low will be throwing further bands of showers over the UK with strengthening winds and gales for Ireland and southwest Britain.

"Then colder air from the north to end the working week. This brings the risk of frost, even wintriness in showers over the highest northern peaks."

Source: Read Full Article