A sunny outlook
OCCUPATION: Meteorologist NAME: Andrew Bond AGE: 30 PERSONAL: Andrew set up the weather forecasting website Metcheck six years ago, after getting all fired up about meteorology during the Great Storm of 1987, which blew his neighbour s shed right into his
NAME: Andrew Bond
PERSONAL: Andrew set up the weather forecasting website Metcheck six years ago, after getting all fired up about meteorology during the Great Storm of 1987, which blew his neighbour's shed right into his garden!
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Andrew grew up in South London and took a slightly unconventional route into meteorology - he studied media, business and computing for his A-levels.
"Weather was always a hobby and I was a self-taught forecaster but my background is in developing data-driven websites and the two go hand in hand," he explained.
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He loves his job because of the unpredictability.
"Weather is not an exact science," he said. "There's always the chance the weather will upstage you!"
Forecasters are interested in the subtle changes that alter weather patterns second by second or year by year.
"For example, we would look at the great summer of 2003 against the rubbish summer of 2004 and ask 'why did things change'?"
Metcheck employs five staff, three of whom are trained meteorologists who are able to interpret the vast amounts of weather data they receive each day.
Meteorologists produce weather forecasts by collecting and interpreting weather data from lots of different sources.
Data can come from ground-based weather stations, satellites, observation vessels and civil and military aircraft.
All this information is processed by computers which then produce charts and models which the weather forecasters have to interpret and present.
Teams work in shifts round-the-clock and much of their time can also be spent outdoors with the rest spent at a computer.
Meteorologists are also involved in research into understanding and predicting climate change and improving methods of weather prediction.
SKILLS & PERSONALITY
You need a methodical and practical approach to collect the information, analyse data and solve problems.
If you're going to be a meteorologist you will have to be meticulously accurate, observant and have great attention to detail.
Numeracy and computer skills are a must and hopefuls should also be able to work well in a team with good spoken and written communication skills.
With new technology being brought in all the time, an innovative and adaptable approach is required. An important requirement is flexibility because new skills are constantly needed.
TRAINING & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
You will definitely need a degree to work just about anywhere in meteorology and this should ideally be in a subject like maths, physics, computer science or meteorology itself.
Subjects such as astrophysics, electronics and physical chemistry will get you into the profession, while environmental science or physical geography may be accepted if an applicant has good physics and maths A-levels.
Most meteorologists in the UK work for the Meteorological (Met) Office based in Exeter. The Met Office provides around 3,000 forecasts each day for TV, radio and newspapers as well as the armed forces, airlines and energy companies.
More and more companies are hiring forecasters to help them make business decisions.
"There are a lot of big corporate clients who are hugely weather dependent," says Andrew. "The bottom line is that weather changes people's habits."
EARNINGS & PROSPECTS
Salaries start at around £17,000. Met Office salaries can rise to around £67,000, but pay varies dramatically depending on who you work for and how much experience you have.
"It's 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The weather doesn't stop on Christmas Day or New Year's Day! If the Met Office or Metcheck decided to close for Christmas Day - well, they just couldn't do that!"
"No two days are ever the same," said Andrew. "There's always something in the pressure charts that's grabbing your attention. There's always something unique to that day."
The Royal Meteorological Society at www.rmets.org, The Met Office at www.met-office.gov.uk, Metcheck at www.metcheck.com