How our forecasts have improved

Through continual investment in research, supercomputing and observations, Met Office scientists have steadily improved the accuracy of our forecasts. All of the forecasts we produce are stored and their accuracy assessed, so that we can learn from what went wrong with inaccurate forecasts and make sure that they keep getting better. Our targets for forecast accuracy are set each year by the government.

Find out more about our targets

There are a number of ways of measuring the accuracy of a forecast. One method used at the Met Office is called the NWP index. This combines the accuracy of a number of different elements into a single measure of overall accuracy. An example of how our computer-generated sea-level pressure forecasts have improved over the years is shown below.

Surface pressure verification

How our computer-generated sea-level pressure forecasts have improved over the years
North Atlantic and West Europe

Find out more about our NWP index
Find out more about forecast verification

Forecasting further ahead

Our three-day forecasts are now as accurate as our one-day forecasts were 20 years ago. This improvement in forecast accuracy stems from investment in research, faster supercomputers and greater coverage by observations.

In addition to improving the accuracy of the one- to five-day forecast, research has enabled us to make forecasts that were previously impossible. We can now forecast further into the future allowing regular seasonal forecasts to be produced, and predictions of climate change are continually improving. New research is expected to provide further significant improvements in our ability to forecast heavy thunderstorms a few hours in advance.