This is information supporting a campaign for an autonomous weather service for Scotland by guest author, Roland Chaplain…

The BLIZZARDS of March 22nd highlighted the need for Scotland to have its own autonomous ‘Public Weather Service’ directly accountable to the Scottish Government through a publicly transparent process.

The warning system currently used by the UK Meteorological Office failed to provide the top level of red alert warning.
If this had been given by lunchtime the day before, action could have been taken which would have resulted in a much lower level of loss of livestock across Galloway, Arran and Kintyre. The locally produced forecast issued at that time highlighted the danger of “considerable drifting”.

The Met Office Headquarters are in Exeter. Its forecast models are some of the most reliable of those of any State weather service. They predicted the components of the weather on March 22nd very accurately (wind strength, temperatures, amount of precipitation, timing, duration, extent, etc). So, this is not about forecast accuracy. Rather it is about the timeliness, effectiveness and local knowledge components of a public weather service. Above all it’s about having a public weather alert warnings system that is fit for purpose for Scotland’s rural as well as urban needs.

Funding for Scotland’s ‘Mountain Weather Information Service’ (mwis) comes from the Scottish Government through SportScotland and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS). Events of March 22nd have shown the need for an integrated approach to providing weather warning services for situations where there is a ‘threat to life and property’ (in World Meteorological Organisation international agreement terms).

The Second World War era of secrecy and non-cooperation between State weather services (UK’s historically under the MoD) needs to be consigned to history. There is a well established independent sector which has attracted some of the best forecasters from the Met Office. The emphasis now should be to change to one of maximising cooperation between these weather forecasters and those directly employed through a new AUTONOMOUS PUBLIC WEATHER SERVICE. In that way the best possible, most cost effective, accurate and accountable weather service can be achieved.
Please contact me to share ideas about how this could be enabled to happen.

Roland Chaplain, – an Sealladh, Balmaclellan, Castle Douglas, DG7 3QE
Tel: 01644 420361. e-mail:
Roland founded (1984) BBC Scotland’s “Weather Watchers” Network and currently works part time with Geoff Monk and Associates – providers of the Mountain Weather Information Service (


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