The last time a storm shook up the UK as badly as today it famously caught out weatherman Michael Fish. Now human error has been banished by a £30 million supercomputer at the Met Office which saw this storm coming before it even formed.
The IBM machine (much like the Blue Gene Q pictured) is capable of 100 trillion calculation a second. It spotted turbulent weather over Canada and the US which met in the western Atlantic to form one large pressure system. This would normally amount to nothing but owing to a fast jet stream carrying it to an unusually warm Britain the storm was born.
The Met Office supercomputer worked all this out using data from millions of sources across the globe including weather stations, satellites, aircraft, boats, buoys and argo floats for water temperature. The code that computes the data is over one million lines long and uses the laws of physics and 150 years of atmospheric research.
The computer itself is housed in a room bigger than two football pitches. It chews up 1.2 megawatts of energy - enough to power a small town. As if this isn't enough the Met Office is due for an upgraded £100 million machine in two years' time. So if you've got a spare £30 million and are in the market for a super computer, you know who to approach.