You are here: Earth > Weather and climate > Weather forecasting

Weather forecasting

A weather app for a mobile phone Scientists who study the weather are called meteorologists. They study how heat from the Sun, atmospheric pressure, wind and the water cycle interact with each other to create our weather. With the help of technology such as satellites and supercomputers, weather forecasts—predictions of future weather conditions in a particular place—are becoming more and more accurate. But the weather can often be unpredictable. Meteorologists can only make predictions for five or six days ahead with any detail or accuracy. Longer-term forecasts are usually based on average weather conditions for the time of year. Today, we can find out the weather forecast from radio and television bulletins, newspapers, websites, weather apps and public screens and boards. 

Severe cold spell headline in the Ypsilanti Daily Press, Michigan, USA, on 13 January 1912

Why forecast the weather?

People have tried to predict the weather since prehistoric times, when they first understood that the availability of food—for example, the arrival of migrating animals and the ripening of fruit—as well as their need for particular shelter and clothing, were closely linked to the weather. Today most of us still like to know what the weather will be so that we can plan what to wear and whether to take a trip to the seaside. 

In terms of accuracy, the Japan Meteorological Agency and the UK’s Met Office are ranked as the top performing national weather services. The Met Office aims to get at least 70% of its rain predictions correct for same-day forecasts.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer