The Met Office is celebrating 150 uninterrupted years of the Shipping Forecast, which is believed to be the longest-running continuous forecast in the world.

The first gale warning was issued following a violent storm in 1859 but it was not until 1867 that gale warnings at sea were issued on a regular basis and they have continued ever since.

The Royal Charter storm off the coast of North Wales in 1859 led to the deaths of 800 people and the loss of 133 ships. Following this tragedy Robert FitzRoy persuaded the Board of Trade to allow him to start storm warnings in a bid to prevent tragedies like this happening again.

These maritime storm warnings evolved into what is now the iconic shipping forecast and the start of Met Office forecasts as we know them today.

The Met Office now provides more than 4.5million forecasts a day from daily weather via its mobile app to highly specialised forecasts for industries and Government including space weather. The four-day forecast is now as accurate as the one-day forecasts were back in 1980.

Peter Dawes, lifesaving services manager for the RNLI said: ‘The Met Office Shipping Forecast is an excellent source of information, and a vital tool in helping people make critical safety decisions at the coast and at sea. We urge everyone to check the weather before heading to the coast, in order to stay safe.’

Not only have the number of forecasts the Met Office produces increased but so has the accuracy. The Met Office run the shipping forecast at a 93% accuracy and the inshore waters forecast at 97% accuracy. This is a notable achievement for predicting the chaotic system that is the weather.

Met Office advisor, Penny Tranter, said: ‘The Met Office is highly regarded internationally the experience we have providing severe weather warnings for over 150 years is unprecedented. We are trusted for good reason, with forecasts such as the shipping forecast reaching accuracy levels over 90%.

‘Our established position in national and international meteorology has led to us being the partner of choice, both across industry and government.’

Click here for more information on the history of the shipping forecast.

Key facts

Shipping Forecast:

  • Wind Speed accuracy: 9%
  • Wind Direction accuracy: 8%

Inshore Waters:

  • Wind speed for first 24hrs: 9%
  • Wind Speed for 24-48hrs: 9%

Gale Warnings: For Gale warnings rather than a percentage accuracy figure, we have a hit rate and false alarm ratio:

  • Hit Rate: 0.907 – 90.7% of warnings are met
  • False Alarm: 0.153 – 15.3% of warnings are false alarms