What is WOW (Weather Observations Website)?

The 'Weather Observations Website' (WOW) reflects recent advances in technology and how weather observations can be made. At the same time, the growing world of social networking online makes it relatively easy for anyone to get involved and share their weather observations.

The Met Office is helping to co-ordinate the growth of the weather observing community in the UK, by asking anyone to submit the observations they are taking. This can be done using all levels of equipment, so there are no cost restrictions.

Searching for a site location

Sites are stored within WOW using lat/long co-ordinates. You can enter these directly or enter a place or postcode and click the search icon which will automatically show the location on the map and populate the lat/long fields.

As WOW will allow information to be submitted from anywhere in the world the easiest way to locate a place is to search using the format "placename, country" e.g. "Ottery St Mary, UK".

To widen your search for sites that have not reported an observation at the time you have specified in the 'Time Period (by hour)' drop-down, go to 'Filters' and select 'Registered Sites' in addition to the two default options of 'WOW Observations' and 'Official Observations'. The four options within 'Filters' are:

  • WOW Observations - Public automatic and manual observations for the time specified
  • Official Observations - Met Office and partner met agency sites
  • Registered Sites - Any sites that have not sent in data for the time specified
  • WOW Schools - schools taking part in the WOW Schools project

If you wish to search for a specific site you can also select 'Enter a Site' and select 'Search a Site' where you can search by place name or site ID, or by location. If you are logged in you can also access this function from 'My Sites'.

Viewing Observations

There are several ways to view observations. From the home page use the 'Search' function as described above. Alternatively, also from the home page, on the map single click on a site pin of your choice for a viewing pane; click on 'View Full Observation' within that pane to see more detail from that site. Both methods take you to the site page. You can view the latest observation on the 'Dashboard' tab; or select the 'Table' tab and select the start and end dates for the observations you wish to view - single click on the calendar icon and select the date you require; click 'Update Table'; within the table of observations you can select 'View' to see more detail of each observation. The observations can also be viewed in spreadsheet format by clicking on 'Export' after setting the start and end dates. Please note that the 'Search for a Site' function is only required when you wish to search observations for a different site from the one you initially selected.

Submitting observations

There are a number of ways that observations can be submitted which should satisfy all types of user, using a wide range of equipment, from a casual observer to a keen weather enthusiast.

Manual

This is the main form for entering a manual observation:

  1. From any location, without the need for any equipment, or to be logged in. If you are not logged in these observations are stored as 'Quick Observations'; but will not be stored against your user account and you will not be able to view them in the "My Sites" view;
    Go to 'Enter Observation', click 'Search Location' and enter your chosen location, click 'Continue'. Choose entry time by clicking on the calendar icon and the selecting the date and time with a single click if different from the default current time. Note: If you enter a future time the observation will not be accepted. Upload a photo if required. Choose a 'Quick Observation' or 'Detailed Observation'. The 'Quick Observation' is as it states, a single drop down menu with 14 simple options. The 'Detailed Observation' has many more options with drop down menus that you can select according to the amount of detail you can provide. If you cannot provide an answer then simply proceed to the next group. Help buttons provide further guidance on the observation form. When you have finished click 'Complete'.
  2. Against a registered Site (if you are logged in)
    Go to 'Enter Observation' and choose from the drop-down under 'Select your site', press 'Continue'. The process from here onwards is as above.
Automatic

For users who own a compatible Automatic Weather Station (AWS). See Data Formats for further information on setting up an AWS.

File upload

Users can upload a file of data as long as it is in the correct format for WOW. Useful if your AWS software is not yet able to send an Automatic observation or if you wish to submit a large amount of historic data.

Ensure you are logged in. Go to 'Enter Observation' and click 'Bulk Upload'. Select whether you are uploading a Davis WeatherLink text file or a WOW csv file. Click 'Upload a file' and select the file from your file location. Within the 'Your file upload history' you should see 'Status: Completed' displayed. Go to your site home page and check on 'Table' that the observations have been uploaded.

Running a weather observation site

WOW can be used by anyone. From an individual just wanting to share the current weather status, or photo, to weather enthusiasts who make frequent observations e.g. a daily manual observation at 09:00Z, or more frequently via an Automatic Weather Station.

The Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) provide some simple guidelines for setting up a weather station that they have kindly provided for WOW users to download.

Link to Get Adobe Acrobat Reader Download the RMetS Guide (PDF) to setting up a weather station.

More detailed information about observing the weather is available within "The Observer's Handbook", available online from the Met Office Publications Archive. This is a historical document, last published in 1982 and reprinted in 2000.

Some of the information may no longer represent current Met Office practices, but much of the content is still valid and of interest to weather professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Signing-up for WOW

Firstly, it's free. There are no charges for using WOW. All you need to do is complete a short sign-up form. This will provide you with a login to WOW, which can also be used for other current and future online Met Office services. If you already have a login to an existing online service, you can add WOW to the list of Met Office services that account has access to within your account page.