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Weather: Forecasts

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the accuracy of weather forecasts provided by the Meteorological Office in respect of each region of the UK; and what plans he has to improve the accuracy of such forecasts. (201479)

The accuracy of weather forecasts provided by the Met Office is assessed through its performance in achieving its forecast accuracy key performance target (KPT). The KPT includes elements that measure the accuracy of forecasts for precipitation and maximum and minimum temperatures for 11 locations throughout the UK. The annual targets for these elements, which are agreed by me and laid before Parliament, have been met in each year since they were introduced in 2005.

Performance against the KPT is reflective of the continuous improvement in forecast accuracy made by the Met Office over the last twenty years. Today's forecasts for three days ahead are more accurate than forecasts for one day ahead 20 years ago.

The government provides the Met Office with significant funding to support its activities. MOD, for example, is planning to invest £30 million in new, state-of-the-art super-computers. While investment in supercomputing is not the only factor in improving the accuracy of weather forecasts, it is significant as it underpins, amongst other things, the production of more accurate local-scale forecasts.

Through increased supercomputing capability, the Met Office expects to make further substantial improvements in forecast accuracy over the coming years.