08:30 28 January 2022
The search is underway for the new Norwich weather boffin.
Weatherquest, based at the University of East Anglia grounds, is looking for a qualified and experienced meteorologist to join the team of experts as one of its stalwarts, Phil Garner, prepares to take on his retirement.
And the role could cover anything from appearing on prime-time TV to consulting farmers in Denmark.
Mr Garner, 62, from South Norfolk, said the role could be challenging but exciting as every day was different.
He stressed that it was important for candidates to be effective communicators and believed that there would always be a place for people in weather forecasting, despite major advances in technology.
Mr Garner, who grew up in King’s Lynn, added that he would not miss the 4am departures for the first shifts.
He said: “I’ve always been interested in the weather and grew up watching Michael Fish.”
At 18 he joined the Met Office where he started as a support scientist and had to train for five years to become a forecaster.
During his 20 years at the Met Office he worked across the UK and overseas and was part of the team that led to Michael Fish’s poor forecast before the Great October Storm 1987 hits the UK.
Mr. Garner moved to Weatherquest soon after it opened in 2001 and saw it grow from six experts to a team of 14 meteorologists.
He said: “When I first joined the Met Office it was a completely different world to what we have now in terms of modeling our forecasts. I used to use tickers and mathematical models. Technology has advanced tremendously.”
The expert said that thanks to some nifty new technology, meteorologists could offer more accurate forecasts over longer periods of time, but there was still a margin of error – that’s where people’s experience is necessary.
Mr Garner said he had seen the effects of climate change and global warming through his work and said more extreme weather events would occur which worried him.
Weatherquest works with various sectors, including overseas, including the agricultural industry and wind farm operators.
The new forecaster will start this spring/summer.
When predictions are wrong
Michael Fish is best known for telling people not to worry about a hurricane in the fall of 1987 on the BBC.
Hours before the big storm hit, on October 15, he told weather viewers: “Earlier today, apparently, a woman called the BBC and said she had heard that a hurricane was on its way.
“Well, if you look, don’t worry, there isn’t.”.
The storm, which raged between October 15 and 16, was the worst to hit south-east England in three centuries and caused record damage and killed 19 people.
It was caused by a violent extratropical cyclone.
Among the worst damaged areas were Greater London, the East Anglian coast, the Home Counties, western Brittany and the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy.