Over the weekend of January 21st & 22nd, I spent 2 very interesting days not flying, writes Chris Sterritt. I was one of the 12 people who attended the Advanced Met Course given by Matt Ruglys. Matt runs the Royal Navy Meteorology Training Unit in Plymouth and what he doesn’t know about the weather wouldn’t fill the proverbial postage stamp.
After introducing himself and giving us his bona fides, he asked us,
“What is ‘The Weather’?”
“It’s sunny,” our leading wit replied setting the tone for the weekend.
Our first morning was spent looking at atmospheric stability, thermodynamics, tephigrams, cumulus and thermal forecasting. I never understood tephigrams before, but I can honestly boast that I now do know how to predict if we are going to have a blue day, amount of Cu and cloudbase, if there will be no convection and so on: but no promises that I’ll get it right. Beyond that, there is quite a lot of other useful things you can do with these magical diagrams, such as forecasting the maximum temperature for the day.
Matt’s style and computer presentation were both excellent – even a muppet like me was able to follow the lectures. In the afternoon we considered wind, temperature, fog and the various type of clouds. Day One ended late, but only because Matt answered our every question and never once tried to brush us off with a quick answer.
Day Two started with streeting, a subject which Matt’s usual navy customers have no use for – why would a Sea Harrier pilot really care? Nonetheless, he had taken time to present the subject to us in great detail and in a manner that was relevant to us. On we went with numerical weather prediction, weather models and how they are used, before a late lunch: too many questions once more. Our final afternoon saw us looking at the upper air and its influence on our weather. I confess that this part did leave me behind, but I’m sure that a little more reading on my part will rectify that. After a quick tea break we finished up by looking at the forecasting process and Matt led a discussion of the best web sites for getting the basic weather data. This final part was very detailed.
Was it all worth the £75 that it cost? Yes – no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. My cash was well spent and I now know a huge amount more about weather forecasting. If you aren’t already booked on one of the next courses, then hurry up. If they’re all booked up, then nag Alex Phillips to organise more.