New weather forecast launched by Met Office...in percentages

Gaby Leslie

People might soon have to get used to American-style weather forecasts as the Met Office trials percentages instead of phrases when describing the weather.

The new forecast sees the Met Office swap words like ‘likely’, ‘low’ and ‘probably’ for percentages so people can make a more informed decision about Britain’s ever-changing weather.

Forecasters have consistently come under fire for making unreliable predictions – most notably snowfall – so the use of percentages will be “more useful” when understanding the weather, the Met said.



Speaking with Yahoo! News earlier, Met Office forecaster Dave Britton said: “We have done research into probability for years. Weather forecasts are never guaranteed. Using the new system, if someone wanted to know about whether to put out their washing, they can make a more informed decision if they knew there was a 75% chance of rain or even 50% that day.”

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The new probability system features on the Met Office’s current Beta Website and is expected to be launched next year.



Other new features include percentages for humidity, wind speed in miles per hour and UV level measurements between one and ten indicating how strong the sun will be. It also provides temperature ranges in terms of minimum and maximum.

Consumer Affairs minister Edward Davey recently told the Commons Science and Technology committee: “The Met Office is working with a number of people to look at how best to get over those risks and probabilities.

“We do know that other countries use percentages to try to get that over. On the website they are beginning to use a lot of probability data, fan charts and so forth, so this is the direction of travel.

“But if we do move away from ‘it is likely to rain’ or ‘it is very likely to be foggy’ or the phrases we see and hear on our TV screens, we need to make sure where we end up is something the British public feel happy with and are able to use in their daily lives.”

The Met Office is now inviting the public to feedback on the revamped weather forecast.




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