Private Weather Diaries

Scope and Content

For weather data which predates the founding of the Met Office in 1854 researchers can make use of our collection of weather diaries compiled by private individuals who had a keen interest in the weather in their locality.

Though the geographical coverage can be uneven and the variety and quality of elements observed differs widely, many were composed by brilliant men of science who became key individuals in the history of meteorology such as Luke Howard, who devised a method of classifying cloud types still used today, and Admiral Beaufort, in which he first wrote down his scale for estimating the force of the wind and his shorthand notation for describing general weather conditions. A version of the Beaufort wind scale is still used today in the shipping forecast on BBC radio.

The earliest diaries we have date from the eighteenth century and are mostly UK based, but we do have occasional overseas diaries some of which have recently provided valuable weather data for parts of the world that we would not otherwise have data for and have therefore been useful when constructing computer models essential for understanding and predicting future extreme weather events such asEl Nino and La Nina.

Regardless of their association with famous individuals and apart from the data they contain, these diaries also possess an intrinsic value as historic artefacts by virtue of their antiquity and uniqueness.

Acquisition Information

Some of these records are owned by Royal Meteorological Society and others are donations from members of the public

Location of Originals

Please note that we also store facsimilie copies of weather diaries, the originals of which are held in numerous locations, including the Bodleian Library and the British Library.