Science & Environment

Green Room: 'Tis the season...

As the festive season approaches, this edition of Green Room takes a look at some of the websites that will help keep you up-to-date with the latest weather information as you plan your Christmas getaway.

Image caption The weather can cause havoc to the already manic festive getaway period

The bird is stuffed, presents wrapped, mince pies baked. All seems to be going to plan. But, as thousands of people across Europe experienced last Christmas, the weather can scupper the best laid schemes to get away.

If forewarned is forearmed, how do you get hold of the forecasts or weather warnings you or your loved ones need before beginning your journey?

If you are making a long-haul slog from one continent to another, a good place to start is the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Severe Weather Information Centre.

At a glance, it shows all of the weather-related warnings that have been issued by meteorological agencies around the globe.

So, for example, if you are flying from the UK to Australia, it is possible to see whether there were any severe weather events that could disrupt your flight en-route or even at your destination.

If you are travelling from one part of Europe to another, then the Meteoalarm website offers an insight to what might be brewing in the heavens.

Provided by the EUMETNET, the network of European meteorological services, it offers the same at-a-glance service of the WMO's site, but with a focus on the European region.

At the time of writing, it showed the red alert wind warning issued for the Republic of Ireland and southern and central Scotland. Other examples included snow/ice warnings in Sweden and the risk of coastal flooding in Denmark.

For US residents, liveweatherblogs pulls together local forecasts and current weather warnings alongside blogs from professional and amateur meteorologists. By entering a zip code, city or state in the search facility, it offers a bespoke local forecast.

If you are travelling within the UK, the Met Office's weather pages offer localised five-day forecasts, as well as alerting you to any weather warnings that may be in force (or due to come into force) over the same period.

If you prefer folklore to hi-tech satellite-based data, then Sci Jinks could be for you. Courtesy of Nasa and Noaa, you can travel the globe to learn the background to sayings like "rain, rain, go away", or why you may not get the sympathy you feel you deserve if you survive being struck by lightning.

Help is also at hand if you are the sort of person that would just rather open the door, step outside and look up to the sky and admire the passing clouds.