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Weather forecasting turns 150 years old

Human beings have attempted to predict the weather informally for millennia, and formally since the nineteenth century. It was 150 years ago, August 1st 1861, Monday that the first official weather forecast was published – amid harsh criticism that such predictions could not be accurate. ‘’And here’s the really crazy thing: the first report was actually correct.’’

And so it was precisely 150 years ago that the first ever weather forecast appeared in the Times of London. This report was compiled by admiral Robert Fitzroy, a Royal Navy captain and meteorological pioneer.
The inspiration for FitzRoy’s first forecast came from the desire to protect life and property. In 1859 a storm wrecked the ship Royal Charter and many others, costing the lives of hundreds of people.

He believed this kind of event could be forecast in advance – giving people the necessary time to prepare. This belief led to his first public forecast in 1861.

The Times newspaper in 1861, the report began with: “General weather probable during next two days” and here were FitzRoy’s predictions for Britain at first published forecasting ever:

North—Moderate westerly wind ; fine.

West—Moderate south-westerly ; fine.

South—Fresh westerly ; fine.


For more on FitzRoy and the first weather forecast, check out this video at BBC News.