Shipping forecast

The shipping forecast is a 4 times, daily radio broadcast (on BBC Radio 4) which outlines weather conditions for coastal and offshore areas around the UK.The map below shows the different shipping areas and their relevant names. Each forecast takes the same structure and reports for each shipping area are read out moving in a clockwise direction.
Shipping Areas GalesThe first part of the shipping forecast will outline any areas in which there are gale warnings. For example the broadcast may start as follows:AND NOW THE SHIPPING FORECAST ISSUED BY THE MET.OFFICE AT 1725 ON WEDNESDAY 05 FEBRUARY 2003

THERE ARE WARNINGS OF GALES IN HEBRIDES BAILEY FAIR ISLE FAEROES AND SOUTHEAST ICELAND

A gale is winds which measures at least Force 8 of the Beaufort Scale.

Gales – key terms

 

Gale Warnings Beaufort Wind Speed Gusts
Severe Gale 8-10 41-47 knots 52-60 knots
Violent Storm 11 56-63 knots 69 knots
Hurricane Force 12 64 knots True tropical cyclone

 

Imminent – Expected within 6 hours of time of issue.
Soon – Expected within 6 to 12 hours of time of issue.
Later – Expected more than 12 hours from time of issue.

The next part of the forecast is a description of weather which is coming across the Atlantic. This is called the general synopsis and looks as follows:THE GENERAL SYNOPSIS AT MIDDAY
LOW GERMAN BIGHT 1002 MOVING STEADILY SOUTHEAST FILLING. SLOW-MOVING LOW DENMARK STRAIT 968 DEEPENING 963 BY MIDDAY TOMORROW. NEW LOW FORMING 100 MILES NORTH OF ICELAND 966 BY SAME TIME
The synopsis basically outlines the movement of pressure systems.

Movement of pressure systems – Key Terms

Description Speed
Slowly Moving at less than 15 knots
Steadily quickly Moving at 25 to 35 knots
Rapidly Moving at 35 to 45 knots
Very rapidly Moving at more than 45 knots

The report the covers the weather for each shipping area, moving round in a clockwise direction. The forecast is made up of three pieces of information:

  • Wind direction and strength (Beaufort scale),
  • Weather expected
  • Visibility.

It will sound as follows for each area:

THE AREA FORECASTS FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS
VIKING NORTH UTSIRE
VARIABLE 4 BECOMING SOUTH OR SOUTHEAST 6 OR 7, PERHAPS GALE 8 LATER. RAIN LATER. GOOD BECOMING MODERATE

Key Terms:

Wind

Description Meaning
Wind direction (southwesterly) The direction from which the wind is blowing
Wind becoming cyclonic Considerable change in wind direction across the path of a depression
Veering The changing of the wind in a clockwise direction e.g. SW to W
Backing The opposite direction to veering e.g. SE to NE

Visibility

Description Meaning
Fog Less than 1,000m
Poor Between 1,000m and 2 nautical miles
Moderate Between 2 and 5 nautical miles
Good More than 5 nautical miles

View latest Shipping Forecast (BBC)