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Radstock weatherman Martin Gibbs puts forecast online

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 01, 2012

RECORDS: Martin Gibbs, of Radstock, at his weather station

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A Radstock man who has spent 50 years dedicating his spare time to predicting the weather has created a website to keep people up to the minute come rain or shine.

Martin Gibbs' interest in the subject began when he was six years old – during the long cold winter of 1962/63.

Living in rural isolation in Babington, he and his family found themselves trapped by the thick blanket of snow.

Mr Gibbs said: "It was high above the hedges and I remember us being snowed in for weeks and weeks on end. It was a fun time to be children and it was the catalyst that kick started my interest in the weather. I wanted to find out why we had so much snow and what caused it."

From that moment he took a keen interest in the changing seasons and as a teenager built his first weather station made from an old war thermometer and an indoor barometer.

Now from his home in Tyning, 400ft above sea level, he uses a solar-powered automatic weather station.

It is linked to a wireless device that shows the amount of rain that has fallen, the wind-chill factor, solar radiation and measurements for humidity and temperature which are recorded alongside figures taken from wind monitoring equipment attached to the roof of Mr Gibbs' house.

This is linked to www.norton -radstockweather.co.uk, which is updated at least twice a day.

Mr Gibbs said: "We have had some very interesting weather recently. This year is the first in about five years where the rainfall has been above average.

"For many years it has been below average but many people seem to only remember the extremes like heavy rain or hot sun and don't recall the long periods of dry weather because it is pretty uninteresting dull days."

The meteorologist blames the recent wet spell, which saw 41.6mm of rain in three hours during a thunderstorm, on the jet stream. He said it is at much lower latitude than usual which has meant unsettled weather for much of the south and could mean a freezing winter if it does not move before colder conditions take hold.

Mr Gibbs added that the area can also experience its own microclimate caused by the Mendip Hills and the Bristol Channel.

He said: "Sometimes it is missed by the national weather forecast but picked up by the local report."

The big question is will the summer ever arrive? Mr Gibbs thinks it will – if a little late.

He said: "There is a faint sign that in early September there will be a brighter spell of weather. Typically just as the children go back to school."

His longer term forecast comes with the help of a number of specialist websites that enable him to gather evidence to predict the local picture up to two weeks ahead.

Mr Gibbs added: "Watching the weather is a fascinating hobby and one that never gets boring because no two days are the same."

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