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The Shipping Forecast

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I have always been interested in the weather and how we discover what the future forecast will hold. Everyone likes to discuss the weather! 

I have installed my own small weather station in my garden which is linked to a weather station in Florida. It receives information from a number of satellites, giving me the ability to check weather in places around the world. 

For our own purposes knowing what the weather’s going to be like can help us to decide if we make that day trip or need to water the plants outside but for industry it can be a life saver. 

I would like to share the origins of the shipping forecast and how it came into being… 

In October 1859 the Steam Clipper Royal Charter was wrecked in a strong storm off Anglesey, 450 people lost their lives. Due to this loss, Vice-Admiral Fitzroy introduced a warning service for shipping in February 1861, using telegraph communications. 

This remained the Met. Office responsibility for some time but in 1911, it began issuing Marine Weather forecasts to include Gale and Storm warnings. The service was discontinued during both world wars as the Germans might have found it useful. Today most ships have onboard technology but they use it to check their data. 

The Shipping Forecast covers 31 sea areas always given in clockwise direction, and there are four broadcasts each day. The one I and most people will recall is at about midnight and usually concludes with a brief UK outlook for the next day. 

Wind speed is given first then the strength (on the Beaufort Scale) followed by precipitation and last visibility. Winds on the Beaufort scale are Gales 8, Severe Gale 9, Storm 10, Violent Storm 11 and if you believe it, Hurricane 12. Wind speeds as we know them vary between Zero (smoke rises vertically) up to 12 (Buildings are damaged). It was Sir Francis Beaufort who created the scale in the year 1805, he was a Commander in the Royal Navy 1774–1857. 

The sea areas close to us in the south are, Portland, Wight and Dover while those further North include Faeroes, Fair Isle, Viking, Bailey and North and South Utsire. 

 

Needless to say for logical or political reasons there as been some subtle changes over the years. You will notice from the map Fitzroy has, a sea area although most are linked to areas like Humber, Tyne, Dogger, Hebrides and Iceland.  

Today’s weather forecasts are similar to those mentioned, this year has shown unseasonable weather due to climate change, solar effects or our own managed life styles, vegetation and cutting down trees in vast numbers. 

The weather is governed by temperatures, air pressures and also moisture in the air.

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