Posted by: Nicholas Verge, Earthscience Technologies (also on behalf of European Storm Forecast Experiment)
Public Sector Information Holder: United Kingdom Meteorological Office
Information Asset: UKMO rainfall radar and lightning (sferic) location data
UKMO rainfall radar data is currently only provided on a commercial basis to those that wish to make use of this information. Public access to rainfall radar data for the UK is only available via the UKMO (extremely limited service) or via commercial redistributors. In both cases the data is provided in graphical map form only.
Lightning (sferic) location data:
The UKMO operates a network of arrival time difference (ATD) aferic location detectors across Europe, able to location the position of lightning strikes across the UK, Europe and beyond. Until recently (late 2007) this data, albeit delayed and at a reduced resolution, was available via NOAA in the USA. Since Autumn 2007, UKMO sferic location data is no longer available to the public in any form.
My ideal solution
Rainfall radar data:
3D precipitation echoe intensity data collected by each radar station. Data to be provided in minimally processed form and as echo dBz values for the entire depth of the atmosphere scanned by each radar. If radars are also doplar radar, 3D radial velocity data to be provided too.
Lightning strike (sferic) location data collected by UKMO ATD system:
Sferic locations to be provided in a standard GIS/meterolological file format eg .csv. (latitude and longitude and time of sferic location).
Rainfall radar and sferic location data to be provided via public ftp server. Data to be provided freely without restriction on use, commercial or otherwise, and without restriction on redistribution. IMPORTANT: All data to be made public at the same instant it is available to UKMO staff, ie without deliberate delayment.
What I would do
Access to UKMO rainfall radar and sferic location data will enable the public to monitor the location of current rainfall and electrical storms. The data may be also be used by experts to enable severe weather warnings to be issued via the internet and the media generally as is currently done in the USA. Similarly, for very short range (now-casting) products to be produced and published about those regions that will be imminently effected by adverse or severe weather.
Recent high-rainfall events in the UK have demonstrated how vulnerable society and infrastructure is to severe weather. It is essential in modern country that the public have free and unrestricted access to this meteorological information so they may monitor developing weather situations and on which they make decisions in order that they may protect themselves and their property. Or, simply in order that they may adjust or plan their work or leisure activities.