Stung by criticism that its weather forecasts aren’t quite as accurate as they could be, the UK Met Office has decided the answer to the whingers is to buy a supercomputer that cost it £97 million.
How will the Cray supercomputer help? The Met Office helpfully explains that it’s 13 times more powerful than the current system and has 120,000 times more memory than a top end smartphone.
That means it can deliver incorrect forecasts 13 times faster than it does now.
Of course, it’s all in the software or as the Met Office explains “sophisticated forecasts are anticipated to deliver £2 billion of socio economic benefits to the UK”.
Politician Danny Alexander, who is chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “We are a country fascinated by the weather.”
The supercomputer is based at the Exeter Science Park and the Met Office says it weighs the equivalent of 11 double decker buses.
But we’ll have to wait nearly a year before the 16,000 trillion calculations a second supercomputer grinds into action. The first phase will be operational in September 2015 and it won’t reach full capacity until 2017.
The Met Office has a supercomputer and for five days now the boffins have been predicting a hurricane would envelop much of Britain.
That led train companies and airports to shut down stuff just in case the Met Office was right this time round. It follows a SNAFU in 1987 when Michael Fish played down tales of a disastrous gale just hours ahead of a disastrous gale knocking down trees and shutting down vast tracts of England.
The cost to the British economy of the Cassandra like warnings of gloom and doom have yet to be measured. But commuters trying to get to work this morning in the south east are hanging around waiting for the weather to abate, although vast tracts of the south east haven’t experienced very much more than leaves on the line. The death toll from “Hurricane St Jude” hasn’t yet been totted up.
The BBC was on high alert and it is true that wind speeds reached 99MPH close to the Isle of Wight.
The Met Office will spend most of today trying to downplay the weather map it issued showing the whole of southern England was under threat.