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knocker

The 150th Anniversary

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It is 150 years since The Times published the first reports of the weather from around Britain based on a national weather service, the forerunner of today’s Met Office. The new reports were the brainchild of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, and the following year he launched a much more daring enterprise — the first daily, public weather forecast, also published in The Times.

In many ways he was ahead of his time. He soon learnt that forecasting was a thankless task — the public remembered only the predictions that went wrong, and he soon became ridiculed in quite vitriolic correspondence in the letters page of The Times. Even august bodies such as the Royal Society felt his forecasts undermined credible science.

On another battlefront, FitzRoy’s superiors grew increasingly alarmed at the publicity he was attracting and the ballooning budget of what was supposed to be a modest service for reporting the weather, not forecasting it. Eventually the criticism grew so loud it led to FitzRoy’s mental collapse and suicide. In the history of meteorology, though, he is now recognised as a giant in modern weather forecasting.

Of the landmarks mentioned is 1959 when the Met. Office got their first computer. I just remember this as my first job was in the Napier Shaw building at Dunstable as a general dogsbody that year. Part of the job was looking after the paper tapes that fed the Ferranti computer which made a massive 30,000 calculations a second! I believe the current computer makes 1,000 billion. Much can sure change in 50 years.

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hi WS

Those were the days, several thousand calcs per second my my, paper tapes, the 'good old days' perhaps?

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Afternoon John

I don't know about the 'good old days' but with hindsight they weren't so bad. I missed the move to Bracknell for which I'm truly thanful. The start of the 'bad new days'.

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Afternoon John

I don't know about the 'good old days' but with hindsight they weren't so bad. I missed the move to Bracknell for which I'm truly thanful. The start of the 'bad new days'.

pm sent

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9 years before this, the Great Exhibition were putting out maps of daily weather reports. I'l post what I think it is the first weather map at least for the UK, sometime.

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