#ExplainingEnergy: Meet SSE’s very own weather man

Tomorrow brings World Meteorological Day, helping us celebrate all things weather and forecasting related. So who better to hear from than SSE’s Senior Meteorologist Simon Cardy.

Why does the weather matter so much to SSE?

SSE has had a dedicated meteorologist for 10 years now, specialising in both short and long term weather forecasting. If a big Atlantic storm is due to hit Scotland or the south of England, engineers and linesmen need plenty of notice to be in the right place to repair any problems with the electricity network and get customers back on supply. Detailed weather information is imperative in forecasting wind farm generation, gas and electricity required for customer heating and lighting and water levels at our hydro stations.

Do you find having a job that involves the weather interesting?

It’s a fascinating job! The weather around the world is connected so it’s interesting to see how the weather in the tropics or the Pacific Ocean can influence European weather a week later.  It’s an early start at 6am to get the weather information ready and the important aspect is communicating the impacts of the weather, rather than the weather itself.  

What changes do you see in your field?

The weather models are constantly being upgraded as our understanding of the atmosphere and oceans improves. They are still far from perfect but looking to the future, we will benefit from more accurate  forecasting of localised severe weather, as well as longer term trends. The higher resolution satellite photos are amazing, showing individual clouds, fog, snow-covered ground and the eye of hurricanes.  

Why does weather forecasting sometimes feel like an inexact science?

In some parts of the world, the weather is relatively easy to predict; that’s not the case for the UK & Ireland! Sometimes the atmosphere seems to be unpredictable so in that case it can be useful to give a probabilistic forecast and explain the uncertainties. 

Are we due a ‘barbecue summer’ this year?!

It’s a little too early to say. Some people enjoy heatwaves but for others they can be very uncomfortable. My favourite time of year is the Spring, and the key will be how the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic change, so we’re keeping an eye on that. 

Image courtesy of NASA

UK From Space