About the Met Office

Met Office logo of green ripples on a black background
One of the most dedicated and professional set of people I have had the pleasure to work with.

The Met Office (originally an abbreviation for Meteorological Office, but now the official name in itself), is the UK's national weather service based in Exeter, Devon.

As a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence, it currently holds a quasi-governmental role, being required to act commercially, but also has remained an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence since April 1990. The Met Office College is also based in Exeter and handles the training for internal personnel and many forecasters from around the world.

The Met Office was established in 1854 as a small department within the Board of Trade under Robert FitzRoy as a service to mariners. The loss of the passenger vessel, the Royal Charter, and 459 lives off the coast of Anglesey in a violent storm in October 1859 led to the first gale warning service. In 1861 FitzRoy had established a network of 15 coastal stations from which visual gale warnings could be provided for ships at sea.

The development of the electric telegraph in the 1870s led to the more rapid dissemination of warnings and also led to the development of an observational network which could then be used to provide synoptic analyses.

In 1879 the Met Office started providing forecast to newspapers.

Following the First World War, the Met Office became part of the Air Ministry in 1920, the weather observed from the top of Adastral House (where the Air Ministry was based) giving rise to the phrase "The weather on the Air Ministry roof". As a result of the need for accurate weather information for aviation, the Met Office located many of its observation and data collection points on RAF airfields, and this accounts for the large number of military airfields mentioned in weather reports even today.

In 1936 the Met Office split with services to the Royal Navy being provided by its own forecasting services.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 5th October 2010.