First Weekly Weather Forecasts in UK
The 11th of February 1878 AD
The British Meteorological Office was established in 1854 in London , originally a small department within the Board of Trade intended to help shippers to and from the UK, and thus improve business. The first head of the section was Captain Robert FitzRoy of Darwin ’s Beagle fame, a mariner thus possessing the practical knowledge of currents and weather patterns that the role initially demanded.
The remit of the department widened after the Anglesey Ship Disaster of October 25 1859, when extreme weather conditions cost more than 400 lives. Two years later gale warnings were being issued, the information provided by a network of coastal stations; in the 1870s this service was speeded up by the use of the telegraph. And in that decade the move from observation and reporting to forecasting began, with the first weekly forecast provided in February 1878. The next year newspapers were provided with the forecasts. It would be grossly unfair to say that we hope they eventually get one right, as today the forecasts are extremely accurate. Nor will we stoop to wondering if they use the same piece of seaweed today as FitzRoy’s team employed.
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