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Blog Entries posted by Paul

  1. Paul
    As some of you may know, we've been planning and developing mobile apps and more mobile friendly pages on the Netweather site for some time now, and are getting toward a point where we'd like to finalise an initial feature list.

    Our initial apps (Iphone & Android) are planned to contain a number of features which include:

    Local Weather Forecasts
    Latest Local Weather Conditions
    Radar (with free and Extra radar's available)
    Lightning Detection (again with free and Extra available)
    Latest Weather Headlines
    Key Weather Charts
    UK National Weather Map
    Pollen Count
    Social Weather Reporting

    Before we finalise this list (bearing in mind this is just for the early releases, further items will be added as we move on), we'd like your input. Are there any items you would like to see, any items you don't think are needed, or any design elements you think are important we have?

    Any ideas or feedback you can give will be much appreciated and will certainly be taken into account as we develop the apps..

    I look forward to hearing what you think!

  2. Paul
    [font=verdana,geneva,sans-serif]A couple of long range forecast related items to talk about today, as we've released our winter preview and also our summer review...[/font]

    [font=verdana,geneva,sans-serif]Starting with the summer review, we know that our long range summer forecast didn't go to plan this year but we've never hidden away from that fact. We made an early announcement to let people know that it wasn't going to be as expected way back in June, and following on from that always intended to closely review the summer patterns to see what we could learn from the forecast.[/font]

    [font=verdana,geneva,sans-serif]As part of that we wanted to share our findings with you all, so Stewart Rampling (our long range forecaster) has put together a video reviewing how the summer panned out overall, and looking at where the forecast went wrong, along with some of the areas it actually went right. You can view the video here:[/font]


    [font=verdana,geneva,sans-serif]Moving on, we're now closing in on Winter and although there's been a lot of hype about snow, the next ice age, months of sub-zero temperatures and so on - the truth of the matter is that at this stage it's too early to know what will happen from December to February. Our normal [url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=longrange;sess="]long range forecast[/url] (updated monthly) covers the next few months, but our full Winter forecast won't be issued until later in November.[/font]

    [font=verdana,geneva,sans-serif]There are some early indicators that can be looked into at this point though, and this is why Stewart has produced his Winter preview - this [b]isn't a forecast[/b] but does look ahead to winter, and Stewart gives his early thoughts on some of the factors he thinks may shape the UK's winter weather this year. You can watch the video here:[/font]


    [font=verdana,geneva,sans-serif]That's about it for this blog entry - we'll be re-opening the winter area on the site on the 1st November, with (among other things) the return of the Santa Shaker in our Christmas forecast. More on this over the next few days though..[/font]

  3. Paul
    It's been a while since we had any major news about the radar, so I thought today would be a good time to share some with you..

    In short, although the V5 version of the radar is still fairly new and in it's final beta phase, we've decided to jump straight on to V6 and are currently working hard to put that in place. The new system will use the same mapping and zooms as V5 but will use newer technology to allow us to bring a number of new features - including many of the most requested ones from the feedback we've had on the V5 radar.

    I'll go into more detail on these new features and some of the other changes in the next few weeks (including a major announcement or two) but the one change I wanted to let you know about today is a change in our lightning detection on not just the radar but across the site.

    Very soon instead of our StrikeStar network we'll be changing across to use the ATD lightning detection system. Although StrikeStar has been great and provides a pretty accurate picture of lightning across the UK, we're always keen to improve what we can offer to our users and the natural progression is the ATD system which and gives even more accurate and sensitive strike detection.

    Stay tuned for further announcements and updates over the coming days and weeks, we're working really hard behind the scenes at the moment and are all really looking forward to bringing these new features and improvements online very soon!

  4. Paul
    For those of you who may not have seen it, Netweather was featured on BBC Breakfast this morning within their feature on how weather affects retailers.


    You can watch it here:

    As well as the website and forum, Netweather also have a commercial arm to the business and one portion of that is our service for retailers. As described in the BBC feature the weather plays a huge role in everyone's buying habits, not just the simple connections like hot weather = more ice cream sales, but right down to small changes in temperature making for large swings in demand for certain products.

    You may think that wet weather can spell bad news for many retailers, but whilst this is true for many there are in fact some stores and product types which do much better when the weather is miserable (and not just umbrella and water proof sellers!), plus of course with online shopping now playing a major part for many retailers there's a relationship between demand through a website to demand through a store which again will be weather affected.

    It's not just demand for products either, staffing levels can be set based on the weather - a wet day is likely to mean an outdoor tourist attraction is quiet, so rostering staff accordingly can save a business a fortune across a year. Service is also important when it comes to keeping customers, and having enough staff available to deal with demand will keep customers coming back, so knowing when those peaks may be caused by the weather can be vital in creating goodwill and return customers.

    Many billions of pounds of retail sales every year are considered to be weather sensitive, so having the information and forecasts to be able to understand how demand will fluctuate is a very important tool and one which the major retailers are all taking advantage of these days. Unfortunately though, the smaller retailer often finds that the cost outweighs the benefit and that's where Netweather's retail products come into their own as we have a number of options tailored for the smaller retailer and priced with them in mind.

    Weather is a powerful beast in the retail world!

    [b]You can find more info on our retail solutions here:[/b]

  5. Paul
    As has been forecast for the last few days, we're seeing some really heavy rain moving up through Northern England and into Scotland today, already there are reports of flooding according to the BBC:


    And you can see why - this is the 12 hour accumulated rainfall taken from the radar:

    And this is the position of the rainfall as I type this update:

    The rain will continue northward during the evening and is expected to pivot across Scotland so some really large falls possible through the southern half of the country in particular. The NMM (netweather's high resolution forecasting model) showed these as the forecast 36 hour rainfall totals this morning:

    There will be some variation to that though as it's very difficult to model the precise spots where the heaviest rain will be - next update to the model will be through in around an hour...

    So what is the reason for the rain? It's being caused by a small, low pressure system running up the eastern side of the country, the air ahead of it is very unstable which is why we're seeing thunderstorms and the heavy rain. By midnight tonight it's expected to be centred fairly close to Edinburgh, before it changes direction and eventually moves away into the north sea tomorrow. By the time it's done so some regions of northeast England, southern and central Scotland could well have seen upwards of 100mm of rainfall, so it's really packing a punch..

    Flooding info:
    England - [url="http://bit.ly/qzqnSD"]Environment Agency[/url]
    Scotland - [url="http://bit.ly/qfomh4"]SEPA[/url]

    We'll update the blog with more snippets and discussion during the evening and into tomorrow.

    [b]Update - 21:55 Saturday[/b]
    Latest NMM shows a similar picture with the heaviest rain just a little way further east - this is the next 36 hours totals:

    Currently the rainfall is mainly affecting the central belt and eastern Scotland

    And the 12 hour totals continue to mount up!

    Rain will be slow to clear Scotland tomorrow with further heavy showers topping up the totals, it's also worth nothing the pretty high rainfall totals forecast for the western England and Wales into tomorrow as well - these are due to a batch of heavy, thundery showers which will develop during the day.
  6. Paul
    [color=#1C2837][size=4]It's been a little while since the last update on our blog (must do better!), so I thought now would be a good time to give an update on what we've been up to behind the scenes, and some info on what we've got planned as we close out the summer and move toward autumn and winter.

    The main thing we've been working on is a move to new servers, which barring a few bits and pieces is now complete. You may remember we also moved to new servers last year but unfortunately it didn't work out with the new company we moved as they weren't quite as reliable or responsive as we'd expected them to be, so we took the decision to move on again.

    For those who into the technical side of things, we're now with Rackspace again but on a brand new setup which is a hybrid cloud solution, what this means is that we have a handful of dedicated servers alongside some cloud based servers. This gives us a huge amount of flexibility to run additional servers within minutes when we get a spike in traffic (like on days when severe weather is likely) to keep everything running smoothly, it also gives us a lot more capacity to run new models, add new features and generally push the boundaries a lot more in terms of what we can offer.

    The major drawback of moving servers is the time it takes and the amount of work involved so to have done it twice in twelve months is not ideal, so we're certainly not planning any further changes like this again for the foreseeable future. The knock on effect it has had on our development schedule is also an issue - we are certainly behind where we wanted to be at this point of the year but once the last parts of the move are complete next week we'll be able to crack on.

    So, what do we have planned? Mobile apps are high on the agenda, a new look and layout on the site is also on the way (no eta on this yet though as it's a major job), updates to the radar will not be far away, we'll soon have additional written and video content, more weather and site related tutorials, a new summer holidays area will be live next week and among other things there's also a fairly major upgrade to the forum to come within the next few weeks.

    We're always keen to hear your views, so if you have any suggestions for features or improvements, or if you spot any issues with the site since we've moved to new servers please let us know!


  7. Paul
    Firstly, a very happy new year to everyone - hopefully 2011 will bring everything that you want it to!

    2010 was a very good year for Netweather, not least because we reached a real milestone during December, and that was the fact that 1 million different people used the site for their weather forecasts, discussion, charts, news and info during the month - the first time that we'd reached the magic million mark in a single month!

    Throughout the year we continued to work hard to improve and add to netweather, with a fairly major part of that involving a move to a new server setup during the late spring and early summer which has given us a lot more flexibility and enabled us to keep things running smoothly even in the busiest times.

    Looking ahead, we're all really looking forward to 2011 as we continue to grow and add to the features on the site, plus of course the storm chase to the USA will come round quickly - and with Michael Fish joining us tour 4 it's shaping up to be a cracking chase!

    Behind the scenes we're currently in the process of putting the development schedule for 2011 in place with a raft of new features and improvements planned. Among these will be mobile apps for both Android and Iphone (along with a mobile version of the site), the final version of the V5 radar, more video forecasts and other weather related content, new ski forecasts and snow reports and a variety of other items.

    If there's something you'd like to see on Netweather, or if you have any suggestions on how to improve existing features please do let us know.

    In the meantime though, we hope you continue to enjoy the New year festivities!
  8. Paul
    With the first signs of a cold snap on the forecasting models today, and the first sign of a frenzy building in the model discussion thread, it's clear to see that Winter is most definitely not far off!!

    To mark this fact, a number of new features will be going live on Netweather over the next couple of weeks. Firstly the Christmas forecast will be making it's comeback for 2010 this week, and that in turn will bring the full return of the Winter area for another year. At the same time Netweather Extra subscribers will have access to the full, in depth Winter forecast (the summary is freely available for all [url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=other;type=winter-forecast;sess="]here[/url]).

    Also in the pipeline is a major revamp for the ski centre, this year it'll include snow forecasts, snow reports, resort info, webcams and photos for virtually every mountain resort in the world.

    On the forum the regional forums will be online by the end of November, as will the 'excitometer' as was suggested by 'In the Vale' last year in [url="http://forum.netweather.tv/topic/60582-excitometer/"]this thread[/url].

    Keep an eye out too for some new videos - including a look at the winter forecast, and some handy hints on using the charts to forecast snow..
  9. Paul
    The build up to winter continues here at Netweather with a number of new items on the way over the next couple of weeks.

    Firstly this week the winter area goes fully live, including the Christmas forecast and the return of (a revamped) Santa Shaker! We also have massive upgrade to our SkiCentre on the way with weather, resort info, webcams, snow reports and a fair bit more for virtually every mountain across the world.

    The full, technical version of the Winter forecast will also be online shortly, initially to Netweather Extra subscribers, and this will be followed by a video discussing the forecast in more depth as well as answering any questions you may have.

    On the forum the regional forums will be back, a new support and site info area will go online and we'll also putting upgrades to the forum, gallery and blog software live soon so we're all ship shape ready for Winter...
  10. Paul
    We've had some many people enquiring this week about the upcoming Winter and wondering when the Winter forecast is going to be released, it's clear that after last year there is an incredible amount of interest in whether this Winter will be cold again...

    The full Winter forecast will be made online very shortly now, and as last year it's been written by Stewart Rampling and the full, detailed version of it will be freely available for everyone to read. (These seasonal forecasts are generally only available to Netweather's commercial clients.)

    The first people to receive the forecast the moment it's released will be the subscribers to our email newsletter, if you're not set up to receive that as yet there is still time, just follow the link below to the Netweather MessageCentre:

  11. Paul
    Lots of work going on behind the scenes here at Netweather HQ at the moment to prepare for the Winter season.

    Obviously with Winter comes additional traffic to the site, so we're adding another server to the cluster currently (taking us up to 6 servers now), and because of the changes we made to our setup earlier in the Summer we'll be able to add further servers to cope with demand at relatively short notice throughout.

    We've also got a packed out development schedule with new additions and improvements to the site in the pipeline, these include further upgrades to the radar, the return of the Winter area, some new forecast features, new charts and a variety of other items.

    On the forum we'll be making some changes - including bringing the much discussed regional forums back online, and also the addition of the excitometer which was suggested last Winter!

    For our commercial clients Winter is also a busy time, especially the gritters who use us and we've just rolled out this years version of FreezeAlert our gritting package with some customers already using it, and many, many more starting on 1st November for the season.

    Last but not least, the Winter forecast is ready for publication having been put together by our LRF expert Stewart Rampling. It'll be released very soon with subscribers to our email newsletter the first to get their hands on it, so if you're not signed up to receive that yet, you can by clicking the link below:


    That's about it for this update - but stay tuned for more news as we close out Autumn and head into the Winter months!
  12. Paul
    After weeks of work and a disastrous failed attempt earlier this week, this morning we finally moved Netweather onto it's new servers. We have a few more bits and pieces to move over tomorrow, but the bulk of the work is done and so far (touch wood) there have been no major issues.

    Once we have finished up we'll be on a solid, future proofed setup and that means we can finally concentrate on the good stuff - ie bringing new features and improvements to the site..

  13. Paul
    As you may know, we've been planning and working on a move to new servers for a little while now, and whilst the forum is already on our new setup the rest of the site is still on the old one.

    Next week will see the big change occur though with all parts of Netweather moved to the new servers, they're already running and live in the background so the changeover should be a seamless one if all goes to plan. The changeover should take place on Tuesday or Wednesday, so keep an eye out to see if you can spot the difference!

    Once the server move is complete, we've got a pretty full development schedule, including some improvements to the homepage, the completion of the V5 radar (currently in Beta), GEM chart display, improvements to the ECM charts, World Cup feature, Wimbledon feature, Glastonbury feature, new worldwide forecasts, forum upgrade, and much more...
  14. Paul
    Apologies to everyone who was affected by our downtime this morning, you may have guessed the reason - we attempted what was going to be our 'seamless' transition to our new servers and just like so many well laid plans; it failed miserably..

    For the time being we've rolled back to our old servers with another move to the new setup planned for later this week (hopefully) once we've nailed down what we think was the problem. With a bit of luck the next attempt will be more permanent and not quite such a disaster as this morning's effort!!

  15. Paul
    Thought I'd post a quick update to let everyone know what's happening with the server move...

    Currently we're still in the process of migrating everything over to our new servers, but we're into the final stages of that with just one or two items remaining, from there it's a matter of testing everything thoroughly before making the switch.

    The current (unofficial!) date for the move to be completed is a week today - Wednesday 12th May, but stay tuned for any changes to this.

    On the day of the move you're not likely to notice too much happening aside from the forum being shut for a short period. For the rest of the site both sets of servers will run along side each other during this time. The time it takes for you to start seeing the site through the new servers will vary depending on your internet provider, some will switch in a matter of minutes, some can take up to 48 hours, most will be over within 24 hours though.

    I'll post another update when we confirm the moving date, and if anything else comes up in the mean time.

  16. Paul
    After several years with our current server hosts (Rackspace), we're on the move to a new company and brand new server setup which will suit us much better and give allow us a lot more flexibility as we continue to grow (at an increasingly rapid rate of knots!).

    Our new servers at Peer 1 have gone live today and we have already begun the process of migrating everything over to them with the aim to complete the move sometime in May.

    The main part of this process will be totally behind the scenes so until the day comes to make the final move over to the new setup there will be absolutely no impact on the site. When we make the final migration (we'll announce the date we'll be doing this in advance), there may be one or two very short periods where you may not be able access parts of the site, but in the main it should be a completely seamless move.

    We'll keep you up to date with progress and for the techies among you will also fill you in with some details of our new setup and the advantages it's going to bring!

  17. Paul
    As you may have seen, we've been working hard in recent weeks (and months) to start bringing video items to Netweather. We've now started to push more content through, and have setup several channels (and with more to come), all accessible from the [url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=video;sess="]video player homepage[/url].

    Amongst the channels currently you can catch up on the latest forecasts from Michael Fish, as well as the netweather forecast team, along with weather from around the world on the Planet Earth channel and highlights of the 2009 storm chases.

    Now the nuts and bolts of putting the system together to provide the video are all (pretty much in place), we're going to be really focusing on bringing more and more videos and channels to the site, with plans for additional regular forecasts, special programs (and series of programs), weather footage, weather news, a learning channel and much more. As part of that, we're on the lookout for people who may want to be involved with the various aspects of video production, so whether you love getting out there and filming weather footage, would like to present your own weather based show, or have an interest in video editing and production, please [url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=contact;sess="]let us know[/url].

    Beyond the video, the new homepage and site design is making steady progress, we'd hope to have it live by now but it became a bigger job that we anticipated originally - there should be more news and the opportunity to road-test the new look fairly soon.

    As ever, please let us know if you have any feedback or ideas for the video, or in fact anything else on the site - we've got a development schedule that's rammed full of new items and improvements at the moment, and much of that comes from feedback from our users, so please keep it coming!

    That's it for this blog entry, thanks for reading..

  18. Paul
    It's been a busy period here at Netweather, so I thought I'd run through some of what is happening.

    Firstly, it's a pleasure to let you know that 2 very talented new forecasters have recently joined our forecast team, Mark Watson has joined our operational team and Chris Gibbs has joined our content team. Both are bedding into the team at the moment, but very soon you'll be seeing their name on forecasts, alerts, articles and videos on the site.

    More good news is that Netweather TV is very near to launch - this new video based service will offer a range of programming from forecasts to weather news, footage and related items, plus of course the full month long USA storm chase will be streamed live from the end of April. We'll be announcing more about this brand new service during the coming weeks, including some big news about one of the regular shows that will be available.

    The new Netweather homepage is also very close to being ready, aside from a new design, it will introduce several new features, including new flash alerts, weather news, additional articles, forecasts, forecaster blogs and weather reports among other things.

    This week has also seen the introduction of our new [url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=f1;type=f1;country=Australia;sess="]F1 forecasts[/url], next week see's the return of the pollen forecasts as the season of runny noses and sore eyes is now under way for many. With the outdoor event and festival time of year now almost upon us, we'll also be bringing a new events forecast system online, which will make it much easier for you to view a forecast for your local carnivals, festivals and events.

    As well as the above, there are plenty of other items in the pipeline including a new summer area, so stay tuned for updates!

  19. Paul
    Evening all, what a fun start to February it's been! The site has been really busy - serving over 2 million pages a day on a few days and over 12.4 million pages already this month.

    We'd been looking at ways to increase capacity on the website as our traffic has more than doubled every year for several years now and we didn't want to end up in the situation where the site ground to a halt and then having to act as it's not good for you - our users and it's a recipe to end up panicking into sorting a solution which isn't good in the long term.

    What we've been using more of is a CDN, for those who aren't techie, CDN stands for content delivery network, and what it basically means is that we've been putting some of our content onto this network and letting their servers deliver it to you. This has several great advantages, one is that it takes some load off of our core servers and the second is that the CDN we're using loads our content onto servers around the world with huge capacity for traffic, so wherever you are and no matter how many try to access that content, you'll always get it from the server nearest to you (meaning good speed) and it'll never slow down because of too much traffic.

    One of the items we've been putting through the CDN is the images from the GFS chart viewer ([url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=nwdc;sess="]here[/url]) and why? Because so many of you are using them - which is fantastic to see, with over 20,000 charts being requested from there every hour at times!

    Anyway, enough rambling about CDN's (which incidentally our new video content will be using too), thanks for reading - and please let us know if you have any suggestions for the chart viewer - we want to keep developing and encourage more and more people to use it.



    PS - If any of you are seeing slightly slow speeds on the gfs chart viewer, please let us know by [url="http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=contact;sess="]clicking here[/url] as there have been one or two teething problems which we can solve quickly if we know about those with the problem.
  20. Paul
    Just a very quick entry - we've put together a selection of the photo's that have been sent into us of the snow this week which you can view here:


    Thanks to everyone that has sent their video and photo footage in - please keep it coming! Address to send it to is:


    You'll also see on the page that we're on the lookout for some weather reporters across all parts of the UK - if you fancy sending the occasional weather report to us and have a video camera then please drop us a line for more info:


  21. Paul
    With winter fast approaching and the second cold spell of the season on the doorstep, there are some great offers available for [url="https://www.netweather.tv/secure/cgi-bin/login.pl"]NW Extra [/url] subscriptions currently to help you stay completely up to date.

    Features within NW Extra include, detailed local and national forecasts, the weather type radar which is updated every 5 minutes and detects whether rain, sleet or snow is falling, a huge range of charts - including exclusive access to the hi-resolution NMM model for the UK, live weather information, strikestar lightning detection, regional snow risk charts, long range forecasts and maps, and much more.

    There really is no better way to ensure you're right on top of the weather this winter! [url="https://www.netweather.tv/secure/cgi-bin/login.pl"]Click here[/url] for more details.
  22. Paul
    Next Tuesday, in a top secret location (kind of!), four top long range forecasting experts will be meeting to discuss the prospects for the upcoming winter. The four are John Holmes, Brickfielder, Glacier Point and Steve Murr, and they will be trying to thrash out how they feel the winter will pan out and going over many of the key drivers they believe will play a part.

    With four such respected and knowledgeable people in the same room, the discussion is sure to be informative, educational and entertaining, so you'll be very pleased to know that everyone will be able to view it.

    The whole discussion will be filmed for Netweather TV and will be made available on the site within days of the meeting.

    More news soon...
  23. Paul
    The winter forecast will be updated onto the Netweather site on Wednesday 26th November, but for the first time ever subscribers to our email newsletter will receive it 48 hours beforehand on Monday 24th.

    The newsletter is part of our MessageCentre service, which enables you to receive forecasts, alerts and weather news as well as our newsletter. It's free to sign up for and all email messages are totally free too. So if you would like to get your hands on the winter forecast before everyone else and haven't registered yet, please visit the MessageCentre at the link below:

  24. Paul
    Tonight see's the launch of a new competition on netweather, with the winner having the opportunity to have their winter outlook published onto Netweather as the 'official' alternative winter forecast. (the winner will also receive a 1 year subscription to Netweather Extra).

    To enter you don't have to be a forecasting expert or have loads of technical knowledge, you just need to have an idea as to how you will create your forecast and the methodology behind it. Put simply, your forecast could be based on anything from nature to pattern matching, to lunar cycles, to the QBO and NAO - in other words anything that you think is relevant no matter how technical or non technical it is.

    At this stage you don't need to produce your forecast, you just need to outline your method and give any other information you think is relevant, the closing date for this part of the competition is the 29th October (at 23.59). Once all of the entries are in, our forecasting team will create a short list of entrants, those on the shortlist will then go forward to a public vote on the forum which will start on November 1st.

    The winner of the public vote will then be invited to provide their forecast by the end of November, once written it will be displayed on the Netweather site throughout the winter with full credits to the author.

    The competition is open to everyone (except the forecast team here on Netweather), you don't have to be a member of the forum to take part, just click the link below to visit the entrance form:


    If you would like any more information, please feel free to comment into the blog or see the competition discussion in the Autumn forum.

    Good luck!
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