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British people talk about the weather all the time because it changes all the time. The weather for us is a national obsession.
This is BBC Television Centre in London. Here, the weather forecasters - or meteorologists - try and work out what the weather is going to do next.
I’ve come to find out if it is possible to predict the weather. Is weather prediction an art or a science? Or maybe a bit of both?
The Weather Centre is somewhere in the maze of the BBC. Their team of weather forecasters work on what the weather is doing night and day.
Nick Miller presents the BBC weather.
Amandeep: Hi Nick! I’ve found you at last.
Nick: Well, I’m a weather presenter. I like to spend as much time outside as possible.
Amandeep: How difficult is the British weather to predict?
Nick: Well, Britain is affected by lots of weather systems. They come at us from lots of different directions, and Britain’s surrounded by sea. It’s an island and the sea affects those weather systems, too.
Amandeep: Does the weather vary across the UK?
Nick: It can differ vastly from one end of the country to another because we’re affected by lots of different weather systems, and you can have a weather system giving rain in one part of the country, and another elsewhere giving sunny, hot weather.
Amandeep: Why do you think British people are so interested in the weather?
Nick: Well, it gives us something to talk about. You know, lots of different weather all the time. Never the same from one day to the next, so if you run out of conversation, you can always talk about the weather.
The BBC has forecast the weather on TV for 75 years and during this time a lot has changed. The graphics have changed too. There aren’t any magnetic clouds or stick-on suns. Weather balloons, super computers and information on global weather patterns have made forecasting complicated, but more reliable.
Amandeep: So Nick, how do you produce a weather bulletin?
Nick: Well, I get the weather forecast, then my job is to translate that into what you see on television: a weather bulletin. And we do that with graphics - different graphics everyday. So what I do is choose what graphics we need to suit the particular weather story from one day to the next.
Amandeep: And what’s the weather looking like for the rest of today?
Nick: Actually it’s not too bad across the United Kingdom. A bit of sunshine here and there, a few showers, some patchy rain in the very far south, but all in all, for the UK this summer, it’s pretty nice.
Amandeep: Brilliant news!
But it’s not always like this. Snowstorms, flooding, tornadoes; they don’t sound like typical British weather but we’ve had them all.
Extreme weather is unusual in Britain so we struggle when it happens. We’re used to our mild climate... so it’s a shock when the weather turns really nasty.
Amandeep: So, Nick, this is your weather studio. How does it work?
Nick: Well, first of all it’s much smaller than you might think. And it’s completely self-operated. All I have to do is find my name from this panel here and the studio comes into life. The camera automatically rises to fit my height. The green screen comes on and I can see myself and the weather graphics in front of me so when I look behind I know where to point. All of this is then set up and I’m ready to do my broadcast.
Amandeep: Do you think I can have a go?
Nick: Of course you can, though you may be surprised, it’s not as easy as it looks.
Amandeep: It looks like there’s going to be rain in the south, but it's sunny up north. But then there are some showers developing a little bit later, so I recommend you taking an umbrella out with you. How was that?
Nick: Actually that’s not bad - for a beginner!
Amandeep: Thanks a lot. I think I did OK. But maybe I should leave it to the professionals.
Worksheets and downloads
What's the weather like where you live? How often do you watch the weather forecast?