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Jim Bacon Interview

Lifestyle | Interview

Jim Bacon - one of the public faces of meteorology, appearing on national and regional TV

With autumn well on its way, is the current weather we are experiencing around Peterborough, what we should expect? What does Mother Nature have in store for us over the next fortnight and how do the hurricanes that caused such devastation in the Caribbean and Florida affect our weather here in the UK?

Well-known TV meteorologist Jim Bacon provides the answers to Bob Hillier.

Jim who has graced our television screens for many years is currently Managing Director and Senior Forecaster at WeatherQuest, based at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Jim and his colleagues provide weather forecast services for the BBC, as well as for farmers, the insurance industry and the general public.

So was last month average for the time of year? Jim says: "September was an OK month really, with reasonable weather after a wet August." In fact September was quite dry as Jim explains: "Taking England & Wales as a whole rainfall was 64 % of average. Locally, Wittering in Cambridgeshire had a relatively miserly 28 mm (55 to 60 % of average)."

There was something of a north south divide in terms of rainfall. Jim says: "Further South rainfall was less - Bedford had 20 mm and Wattisham in Norfolk only 17mm (31%)."

September was also a warm month. The daily mean max temperature at Wittering is 19 C while average night-time temperatures are 10 C. Jim remarks that: "Daytime temperatures were 1 to 1.5 C above average and at night-time they were around average."

Associated with September being relatively warm, it was also quite sunny. Jim says: "In terms of sunshine, it wasn't too bad a month. In fact Wittering clocked up over 160 hours and in some of the sunnier parts of Eastern England around 170 hours."

In summary September was warm, fairly sunny and dry. As for wind, Jim says: "There were no real stormy events, although the middle part of the month was certainly more unsettled."

Jim provides some interesting information on sea temperatures and how they affect the weather. He says: "The warmth of the North Sea gives you slightly better nights near the beach, although this doesn't happen during the day. The North Sea cools rather slowly during this time of year, which can be beneficial. Conversely, around Whitsun the sea takes a long time to warm up as we start to get into the summer."

Jim also explains how the hurricanes over the Caribbean and Florida can actually reach England and influence our autumn weather. He says: "The rain we had over last weekend was tropical air, which was part and parcel of Hurricane Jeanne. 60 to 70 mm fell over the West of the country. Most autumns we get hurricane air as low pressure, which leads to lots of wet weather. The tropical air is warmer and can carry more rain. The moist air goes into the higher altitudes and moves into the Troposphere across the Atlantic until it reaches England."

So what can we expect from the weather in the next week or two? Jim says: "We normally experience fogs and frosts at this time of year, with clear skies and colder longer nights. However, saying that we have nothing to suggest that we will have this type of weather until well into next week.

"We are expecting things to turn gradually colder as we go into next week, with high pressure currently over the north of the country and low pressure over the south. By the end of next week, the situation will be reversed with more typical foggy and frosty weather."

Weather forecasting is not without its difficulties and Jim does strike a slight note of caution as you might expect: "From the latest measurements we take, looking into the future, the further we forecast ahead, the more errors gradually multiply."

WeatherQuest provide a forecast hotline for the general public, who have specific weather questions not answered by the usual forecasts. The number is 09065 77 76 75. Calls cost 1.50 per minute and are available 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm.

October 2004




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