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At the mercy of The Great British Weather

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Tomasz Schafernaker Tomasz Schafernaker | 11:20 UK time, Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Do cows really lie down on the ground before it rains? Does a farmer in Cumbria really rely on a red sky at night?

I'm the specialist meteorological reporter on BBC One's The Great British Weather, where we put weather folklore like this to the test and demystify some of the science behind elements of the weather in this country.

The Great British Weather is a four-part show that taps into our obsession with weather, and will come live from a different location each week.

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Tomasz demonstrates how to make a rain gauge

I think our national obsession comes from the weather being so changeable and our seasons seeming to be so unpredictable.

I'm struggling to think of a country in Europe which can have a gloriously hot April but a cool and miserable June. Let's face it, our seasons seem to have gone bananas.

One of the reasons why I studied meteorology is because I wanted to understand why the atmosphere does go bananas.

Sometimes it's hard to imagine that a storm quite literally pops out of thin air.

Giving a weather forecast on the news is one thing, but explaining the physics of why things "pop out of thin air" to a live audience will be a new challenge for me.

I always believed that, in this day and age, entertainment value is almost as important as the science itself.

So, in the show, we will attempt a range of fun and bizarre experiments, some of which can be recreated at home using household items.

It's an interactive show so we're counting on you, the audience, to get involved.

We will attempt to create a snapshot of the weather across the whole country as you show us what the weather is like in your location, live on air.

We will, of course, be at the mercy of the traditional British summer, which is exactly the point of having the show live - the crazier the weather the better.

Alexander Armstrong will be hosting the show, along with Carol Kirkwood and Chris Hollins.

Other familiar faces, such as Michael Fish, Bill Giles and John Kettley, will also make guest appearances.

Tomasz Schafernaker

Tomasz Schafernaker

The impact of the weather in British history will also be discussed.

D-Day was an incredibly complex wartime operation that needed a specific combination of weather factors in order to be successful.

In fact, weather information was so vital in those days it was actually classified information, as whether or not to invade would be based almost entirely on the weather forecast.

We will also try to explain how it can rain frogs and fish, while Chris Hollins goes fishing for sharks and Carol Kirkwood attempts to see the inside of a cloud.

The first episode is live from St Ives, which is on the edge of the Gulf Stream.

It's the most southern tip of the nation and one of the first places to get blown to bits and drenched with rain, as weather systems march in off the Atlantic.

We'll also be broadcasting from the Lake District, Scotland and London. Whatever the weather, we'll be there!

Tomasz Schafernaker is the meteorological reporter for The Great British Weather.

The Great British Weather is on BBC One at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 13 July.

If you use Twitter, you can follow the show @BBCbritweather or use the hashtag #bbcgbw.

The Great British Weather team want your weather pictures - you can send them to greatbritishweather@bbc.co.uk. Please visit the show's site for terms and conditions.

Find out more about the science behind popular weather myths from Tomasz at the BBC News Magazine.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    great to see you back Tomasz

  • Comment number 2.

    As long as you leave your fingers where they're supposed to be it could be a decent show.

  • Comment number 3.

    we've been campaigning on the POV board for the return of tomasz and rob mcelwee. tomasz is back - but where's rob?

  • Comment number 4.

    I am looking forward to seeing the programme. I am just hoping that the background music (noises) will be at the most minimum and at the least not there at all.

    I am sure it will be an interesting 60 minutes, or thereabouts. It should be quite a piece of work to refer to for any students of meteorology.

  • Comment number 5.

    Will we get to know where "nowheresville" is Tomasz?

  • Comment number 6.

    Looking forward to seeing your reports Tomasz, you are the only person who can make the weather interesting

  • Comment number 7.

    Glad to have you back tomo

  • Comment number 8.

    I have always believed the saying to be 'Red sky at night, shepherd's delight, red sky in the morning, sailors warning'.

  • Comment number 9.

    Five of us watching the programme "The Great Weather Programme" have voted
    to turn it off.It started out as an insult to intelligent people and more of a game
    show. A program done in the studio and done practically would impart a more
    serious theme which would be worth watching. We've seen the weather tonight
    and dont need the pictures or a screaming audience to keep us viewing. This program comes across as desperate to claim viewers.

  • Comment number 10.

    Its a pity the Scottish Golf went to Inverness this time. We had great weather down here in Paisley, 40 minutes fron Loch Lomond.

  • Comment number 11.

    I thought the following ditty that I learnt as a boy, Im now 80, would be of interest to you .I thought it would be quite appropiate for your concluding programme.

    Whether the weather be fine or whether the weather be not ,we will weather the weather,whether we like it or not.
    Maurice Wright

  • Comment number 12.

    What was the music used during the item about red skies? It was whistling, very beautiful, thanks.

  • Comment number 13.

    A piece of weather-lore quoted at St Ives was "rain before seven, fine by eleven" which I have found usually works when I'm at home in Hertfordshire, but not always when I'm in the Lake District. I was once given the explanation that it doesn't often rain for more than 4 hours in the South East - but that it often does in the Northern and Western parts of the UK.

  • Comment number 14.

    Why is it that "low pressure" systems seem to hang around and "highs" are off after a couple of days??
    My father in law used to say - "in Britain we don't have a climate - we just get weather!" How true!

  • Comment number 15.

    hi..on episode 2 in the lake district carol was telling us about clouds in famous paintings.While talking about the clouds in constable's Haywain painting there was a piece of classical violin music being played.Can anyone tell me what the music is called...I do think "the great british weather" is a really good light hearted programme and makes a change from everything about cooking that seems to on most channels these days ..:)

  • Comment number 16.

    Thank you very much for all your feedback on The Great British Weather, it is always good to get different points of view.
    In response to missytwo14, I would say that the show has been designed to appeal to a wider audience rather than meteorological enthusiasts only, whom will indeed find the show quite basic. A number of in-depth weather related documentaries have been commissioned in the past and it was felt that it was time to experiment with a new type of show. I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities for other weather and climate programmes in the future.

    I would love to answer a couple of your weather related questions starting with the "rain before seven, fine by eleven" rhyme from Barb385.
    I would suggest that whomever argued that rain lasts around 4 hours (typically?) probably lived in one of the driest parts of the UK! (Hertfordshire is indeed a 'dry' part of the country). We all know that rain can last for days, especially in the Lake District. If there is any scientific argument to the saying it is this: a weather front 'swiftly' crossing the UK will bring a spell of rain which will indeed last around 4 hours.
    Next, I would like to comment on TerryB44's suggestion that in the UK we have "weather" and not a "climate". Personally, I would absolutely agree with you as it's seems like it is too changeable in the UK to have some 'established climate'. As a meteorologist, however, I would say that our climate is simply one of 'changeable weather'. As far as the 'highs' and 'lows' are concerned, I think it is only our impression that 'highs' are off in a couple of days and 'lows' hang about. We simple get a lot more 'low pressures' crossing the UK, sometimes many in a row with brief windows of good weather called 'high pressure ridges' which indeed only last a day or two, so you are correct in noticing that! A proper 'high pressure' usually anchors itself over the UK for few days to a couple of weeks but, alas, that seldom occurs.
    Finally, thank you to Maurice Wright for his weather saying "Whether the weather be fine or whether the weather be not, we will weather the weather, whether we like it or not", I think it is brilliant and perhaps we will use it in the final show!

    Tomasz Schafernaker
    Reporter for The Great British Weather

  • Comment number 17.

    Just watched episode 2 on iplayer. Songs about clouds include "Clouds" by Bread and "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell


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