Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Best WX forecast service

I was wondering what WX forecast service others use epecially the longer term ones, i find many seem to give different storys even when its looking at a 24hr forecast. Sean M0GIA

In reply to M0GIA:

I find the forecasts quite poor at the moment. I look at the BBC website and the Met Office website - and they don’t always agree. Recently I’ve taken to taking each day as it comes.

When the weather is unsettled, as at the moment, they are rarely accurate more than a day ahead - and even then it’s difficult to get a forecast right for a particular area for the following day.

Of course, when the weather is nice and settled, they have a much easier job!

It’s the old “butterfly flapping its wings” syndrome - there are simply so many variables in the atmosphere that it simply isn’t possible to model accurately to produce a decent forecast for more than a few days ahead even at the best of times. I simply don’t believe the longer term forecasts - they are simply betting on the most likely events when others are almost as likely.


In reply to M0GIA:




Longer term, in Scotland, basically forget it!


In reply to GM8OTI:

It isn’t a matter of believing or not believing the longer term forecasts, they are simply a predictive tool, and like all tools have to be used wisely.

My main source is the Met Office surface pressure predictions, as the same data is provided to the Beeb and other outlets I prefer to cut out the middleman! I feel that I can make a good fist of converting a surface pressure chart to a picture of what sort of weather to expect in any region of interest, and I can see at least in general terms how the predicted patterns can go progressively awry, some deviations being more likely than others.

The predictive charts are available on:


It is also invaluable to have access to the rainfall radar, the arrival of a front can be predicted to about a half hour accuracy using this tool, plots at half hour intervals for the last six hours are here:


Finally I keep the Met Office weather gadget permanently on when on the net, this can be downloadeded free from the Met Office site, and gives you the current details for your nearest station (you have to select it) the most recent rain radar plot, the latest IR satellite picture, todays severe weather warnings and the narrative weather forecast for the day in your area.

Given a little study to learn how to read a pressure map if you can’t already (and if you are into V/UHF DXing you probably can!) then these facilities leave you well armed! You can even pass information on the progress of major showers and rain belts to activators if it looks like they may soon get wet!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to OE5REO:
Thanks for all the information and links which i have bookmarked so i can take a better look later. Sean M0GIA

In reply to M0GIA:
Just taken from yahoo/news,
Looks like the uk is in for a battering this weekend,
see the link below,


Steve m0sgb

In reply to M0SGB:

Looks like the uk

Sadly it’s a typical WX forecast for London and the South Coast where it will be windy and wet. The WX for Scotland is quite good. There again, when did the WX up here matter to those South of Watford Gap?


In reply to M0SGB:

Not much wind here yet but a vivid display of bright colours approaching on the rain radar! I expect I will finish up a flooded lawn but no trees blown down.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:
Im expecting bad gales going north on the M6, it was bad on the A50 and A42 on way down, so glad i dont have to go south of Watford gap, and i think everyone should move up Scotland this weekend for sota, Steve m0sgb

In reply to M0SGB:

We had some quite heavy rain around 1.00am which woke me up. Now (7.50am) it’s 50% blue sky with a gentle but occasionally gusty breeze. Sky looks threatening though and some more heavy rain is predicted for this morning.


The aspects of WX that interest hill walkers are very similar to those that matter to aviators. The UK Met Office issues six-hourly synoptic charts and analysis, which includes information such as…

  • Amount of cloud cover (% of sky)
  • Cloud base and thickness
  • Precipitation amounts and type
  • Freezing level
  • Wind speed & direction
  • Frontal analysis
  • Direction and speed of frontal systems

…and so on.

The general forecasts come in two publications:

Form F214, which is a wind speed and direction chart showing data at various altitudes for spot locations all over the UK

Form F215, which gives the synoptic information, breaks the UK into weather “regions” and provides a detailed analysis for each region.

In addition, many airports issue a METAR (METeorological Actual Report) every 30 minutes, at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour. The Met office also issues TAFs (Terminal Area Forecasts) on six and twelve hour intervals for every airport that produced METARS. TAFS give a detailed analysis of the weather around the airport.

Now the catch! You do need some basic met training to interpret these data. It’s not hard and every pilot has to do it as part of the basic pilot’s licence. The TAFs and METARs are encoded - for example the latest METAR for Carlisle (the airport I fly from) is

METAR EGNC 140850Z 18007KT 140V210 9999 VCSH BKN024 10/07 Q0979=

which tells us that at 0850Z the wind was 180° 7 knots, variable between 140° and 210°. Visibility >10km. Showers of rain in the vicinity. Cloud broken (about 30% cover) at 2400ft. Temperature 10°C, dew point 7° and barometric pressure 979mb.

The latest TAF for Manchester is

TAF EGCC 140459Z 1406/1512 17016G30KT 9999 SCT028 TEMPO 1406/1414 17025G40KT 6000 SHRA BKN012 PROB40 TEMPO 1407/1413 3000 +SHRA BECMG 1412/1415 25017KT PROB40 TEMPO 1414/1418 25020G30KT BECMG 1421/1424 18009KT PROB30 1504/1509 8000 -SHRA=

This contains a wealth of information, not just about the current weather but what is expected to happen, the probability of it happening and the timing. You can probably decode the key data in the TAF with the information I’ve already given you.

There are various places where you can access these data. The Met Office
publishes them free of charge (but you need to register) and there are various aggregators who bring all the data together in a more readily accessible format.
is one such. Some of the services are free but a small fee (well worth it in my opinion) is charged for the value added services.

Once you’ve got used to using these aviation services you will never bother with a general (BBC style, dumbed down) forecast again! You’ll probably also find yourself getting interested in what makes the weather and how you yourself can forecast it.

73, John

In reply to G8ADD:

“I expect I will finish up a flooded lawn but no trees blown down.”

Too optimistic by far! I got up to find the patio covered by a Cotoneaster “Cornubia” loaded with berries that has been an irresistable attraction to the redwings and fieldfares for several years now. Sadly, it has to go. The antennas are OK, though!


Brian G8ADD

Hi Brian

Looks like we’re getting the ‘other side’ of the storm now.
I always use www.metcheck.com and find this to be pretty
reliable, and easy to use.

Kind regards

Dave G0ELJ

In reply to G0ELJ:
Todays weather was the original reason why created this thread, i am grateful for all the links which has saved me alot of time searching. Sean M0GIA