As I write this (Sep 2019), it is almost 30 years ago to the day that a slimmer, spottier, teenage version of me packed his worldly possessions into a rucksack and set off for Reading University. And thus began my meteorological odyssey.
After passing 1st year meteorology, I couldn’t resist an offer to join the Met Office forecaster training programme. For the first 3 years of my career I was paid to simply observe the weather, how lucky was that?! I doubt very much whether this is still a career option in today’s digital age.
In 1995 came my first stint at the legendary Met Office College at Shinfield Park where learning and laughing occurred in equal measure as like minds bonded. Sadly the MOC has long since been turned into a housing estate (with street names such as Rossby and Cirrus). No sooner had I learned how to spell positive vorticity advection, than I was promptly dispatched to Bristol Weather Centre as a fully-fledged forecaster.
After 3 years in the front line, it was back to the MOC for advanced L&L, followed by a move into television. Then, for more than a decade, I provided weather content for broadcast on ITV and GMTV. As well as delivering the Met Office forecast to the nation, it was my responsibility to keep the more enthusiastic journos on track. As a respectable civil servant, I was occasionally obliged to pour a cold dose of reality onto some of their more fanciful weather stories.
Eventually sixteen years of shift-work caught up with me; my body and mind were crying out for a change, and in 2008 relief came in the form of the corporate world of British Gas.
It turned out to be a fantastic opportunity as I was given free rein to bring the energy giant’s weather data processing into the 21st century. I soon had them shipshape and Bristol fashion, and before long, I found myself supporting their entire energy trading operation; surely a highlight in any weatherman’s career?
What I have seen throughout my career is that we, the Great British Public, love our weather but that we also desperately need a place to go for reliable, clear, and concise information.
It is in this spirit, that I proudly present: Meteoric Weather; no-nonsense weather for everyone…
James Richards FRMetS
I do not usually refer to myself as a meteorologist. I think that laurel is more suitable for an academic, highly qualified in the field.
I am much more comfortable with the title weather forecaster, although I think even that is a little misleading.
I do not consider anyone to be a forecaster of weather; of course, no single person can miraculously simulate in their head; the fluid motions of the atmosphere, and the various fluxes of energy across the whole world, and project that evolution 100s of hours into the future, and then deduce that it is going to rain at the weekend!
What I have been trained to do, in fact, is interpret the work of others. I know where to look, and then I tell people what I see. So a more accurate job title perhaps might be; weather messenger.
Right: Hermes, messenger of the gods