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Introducing the BBC Weather Watchers club

Liz Howell

Director of BBC Monitoring

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Head of Weather Liz Howell explains the idea behind BBC Weather Watchers

In March this year, we announced BBC Weather Watchers as part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital launch. As we said then, the goal of Weather Watchers was to create a new, crowdsourced weather club that will enable people across the UK to help tell the story of the great British weather.

As Head of Weather at the BBC, I know that this is a topic the British public is passionate about. The weather shapes the decisions we make every day, from going out or deciding what to do with the kids; to what to wear or whether or not to hang the washing out to dry. 

We want to give everyone the chance to join in with the nation’s favourite conversation, as well as get creative, learn a few digital skills and maybe even have their content appear as part of the BBC ‘s weather broadcasts along the way.

Following several months of planning and development, I’m delighted that the brand new BBC Weather Watchers club has gone live today. You can see it unveiled on tonight’s episode of The One Show, and we have a lot of exciting activity planned over the coming days and weeks across BBC local news and radio, to help introduce BBC Weather Watchers to you, wherever you live, and invite you to join in.

BBC Weather Watchers is an important part of BBC Make it Digital - the BBC’s 2015 flagship initiative designed to inspire people across the UK to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.  It’s also firmly rooted in our public purposes to promote learning and education, work with all parts of the UK, and help introduce new digital technologies to all audiences. I am excited about the role that BBC Weather Watchers will play in engaging people across the country- and in particular an older audience – around this much-loved topic, giving everyone a chance to develop and boost their digital skills.

Today, our audiences already send in their weather pictures which appear on air, on the BBC’s social media channels, and populate our online gallery. BBC Weather Watchers will build on that existing activity, and we’ve designed the site to be easy and intuitive to use. Users will be able to upload weather pictures and observations irrespective of scientific knowledge, and without the need for additional equipment. Through easy steps, you’ll be able to start creating simple digital reports that show what the weather is doing where you live. And you can also share these ‘report cards’ on social media. Your 'nowcasts' will help build a map of the UK that shows local weather with images and information sent in by you. You can read more about how the site works in my colleague Mike Burnett’s blog.

BBC Weather Watchers will help become part of the BBC’s overall weather storytelling and broadcast activity, via BBC local radio, TV and online. Scientific data and our weather experts will of course continue to be key to the BBC’s weather reporting and forecasting, but now, it will be easier for you to tell us what’s happening where you are and become part of our weather coverage - from exactly where the first snow fell or how high a flood rose, to what the effect of a storm was on a coastal resort.  

But BBC Weather Watchers is more than a map of the UK weather: weather watchers can also learn about the science behind the weather through our partners at the Royal Meteorological Society, and get behind-the-scenes info from their favourite national and regional weather presenters.

BBC Weather Watchers is open to anyone over the age of 16 with an interest in what the weather is up to. Hundreds of early birds have already signed up and taken part in workshops held by BBC Local radio stations over the last two weeks. They include gardeners, pilots, delivery drivers, photographers, keen amateurs and seasoned weather pros. I hope you’ll join us too.

Liz Howell is BBC Head of Weather

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