As climate change brings more extreme weather, the role of the 'storm chasers' is becoming even more important, as ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie reports
It is said to be our national pastime, but for some the weather is very much more than that.
On an overcast morning at a sleepy Second World War airfield, a group of scientists gather for their morning briefing. Their mission: to take to the skies over the South West of England in an airborne laboratory to better understand how summer storms develop.
With climate change driving ever more extreme weather, they say it’s becoming even more important to get their weather forecasts - and their weather warnings - correct.
ITV News was invited onboard the flight, a collaboration between the Met Office and the FAAM Airborne Laboratory, to see this unique weather lab in action. Fitted with the latest laser technology, sensors and scientific instruments, the aircraft rattles down the runway and proceeds on a routing over the South West.
Dr Paul Barrett , Met Office Mission Scientist, said: "We're trying to improve our understanding of UK summertime showers, how they start and build up from little fluffy clouds on a nice fine day to bigger, more active systems that can cause heavy rain, precipitation, high impact weather, flooding and quite severe impacts for emergency planners."
The team on board is seeking out the clouds which turn into storms. It's part of a three-month programme called the Wessex Convection Experiment. The aircraft flies at various altitudes, including just 50 feet over the Bristol Channel, to collect data on clouds and airborne particles, helping them to better understand how innocent-looking clouds can evolve into disruptive weather systems. After five hours in the air, the flight is back where it began. Every piece of data collected in the skies over England helping to make our forecasts and warnings more accurate.
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