Outlook improving: inspiring talk from Met Office expert

A weather expert combined fascinating insights into the work of the Met Office with some solid career advice when he visited the School to give a talk to senior pupils.

Operational Meteorologist Michael Evans explained how technology is constantly improving the accuracy of weather forecasting, as he delivered the latest in QE’s new series of extra-curricular enrichment lectures for boys from Years 11 to 13. A separate strand of lectures is under way for younger boys.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Mr Evans is an excellent communicator and is passionate about his subject, so we were delighted to welcome him as our guest. I believe our boys will not only have learnt more about meteorology; they will have been inspired by his determination not to let obstacles prevent him from following his chosen career path.”

""Mr Evans joined the Met Office in 2013 after graduating in Geography from Exeter University. Although the Met Office headquarters are in Exeter, he is currently based in Northolt, working in the military information division.

He told his audience that Met Office computers analyse trillions of bits of data per hour, taking in readings including temperature, pressure, humidity and wind speed from all over the world. Technological improvements – including a recently installed £96m computer system – mean that a three-day forecast today is as accurate as a one-day forecast was only ten years ago.

""His talk highlighted both well-known and lesser-known facts about the Met Office:

  • Its data is used not only to predict daily weather, but to look at long-term trends such as global warming, with the information generated being used by governments;
  • It conducts research into obtaining and analysing the weather in space;
  • The weather forecasts it provides for TV and radio broadcast every day are paid for by Government out of taxation, but the Met Office sells other weather information to customers on a commercial basis – to energy companies and the re-insurance market, for example. Any profits are ploughed back into its work;
  • The information the Met Office supplies helps with emergency weather situations in the UK and informs Government planning;
  • The Met Office also assists British Armed Forces – Met Office employees are even embedded with military units and have recently been in Afghanistan.

""Mr Evans told his audience that he became interested in the Met Office when he did an initial two-week work placement there. In his Geography course, he focused on weather, but he said in fact this degree may not have been ideal: studying Mathematics or Physics gives candidates the best opportunity of obtaining a post there because of the mathematics involved in the job.

However, he got the job, notwithstanding this gap in his qualifications, because of his other strengths, such as communications. He has since improved his mathematical skills by completing various courses.