My father however wasn't quite so keen on the white stuff
because he was a driver so it wasn't much fun for him on the roads
travelling around South Wales. I couldn't understand how he felt at the
time but now I'm older I can see his point of view.
Snow is a double
edged sword in this country, it's pretty to look at, children and 'some'
grown-ups love it, but it doesn't take much snow to cause chaos and as
a meteorologist it's by far the most difficult weather parameter to get
The hardest part is deciding how much snow is going to fall and
where the worst hit areas will be, with many people hanging onto your
A picture of the Snowdonia Range from the Bala side by Leanne Hughes:
Rain can sometimes be patchy and snow can be very hit and miss
too, especially when it's in the form of showers but snow has
a much bigger impact.
1 mm of rain is roughly equivalent to 1 cm of
snow. You'd hardly notice 1 mm of rain but you would definitely notice
1 cm snow!
Recently, many parts of Wales have had a lot of snow but
some places, even just a few miles down the road, have had next to
These days short term forecasts are much more accurate than
they used to be with advances in technology but the computers we use,
although very powerful, are not perfect.
There is always a varying
degree of uncertainty in any forecast depending on the weather
situation. That's why forecasters often use words like: may, could, perhaps, possibly, mainly, rather, largely and hopefully in their
A small drop in temperature, just half a degree, can make
all the difference between rain and snow. Altitude can make a big
It can be raining on the coast but snowing on the hills
and mountains. Also, heavy rain can cool the atmosphere around it and
rain can turn to snow.
These are all things that a forecaster has to
consider when making a forecast. At the end of the day, meteorology is
not a precise science.
You can only do your best with the latest
information available at the time but nothing is set in stone, things
can change and sometimes quickly.
For example, a front bringing rain or
snow could slow or speed-up, weaken or intensify. And this could make
all the difference between having a dry or wet morning, whether you can
play golf or put the washing out.
The trouble is, people tend to only
notice the times when the forecast doesn't quite go according to plan.
I've worked for the Met Office for 23 years, the last 14 years as a
forecaster, and the one thing you need in this job is a thick skin and
a sense of humour!
The other day when I forecast snow, it was a huge relief the next
morning to pull back the curtains and see everything covered in a
blanket of snow. I had got it right but if I hadn't I would have had a lot of explaining to do...
The joys of being a weatherman.Derek