METEOROLOGY BUILDING GETS A WEATHER VANE AT LAST – BUT CAN YOU UNDERSTAND ITS CODED MESSAGE?

Release Date 16 December 2016

The new weather vane is officially unveiled

A new weather vane with a hidden message has been unveiled on the roof of the University of Reading’s Meteorology building after being chosen as the winning design.

The weather vane was created by Dr Helen Dacre, associate professor in Meteorology, and selected by an expert judging panel. The winning entry was announced by Reading-trained TV weather presenters Holly Green (BBC) and Laura Tobin (ITV).

It was officially revealed to University staff and students on Friday 16 December by Dr Dacre, who was joined on the roof of the Meteorology building by Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell.

The Meteorology building was equipped with a weather vane mast when it was completed in 1996, but has remained without a vane ever since. So, as part of the department’s 50th anniversary celebrations last year, the University turned to its own academics to solve this.

“Since the Meteorology building was opened, we have been quite effectively making the weather – but it remains occasionally useful to know which way the local wind is blowing,” said Professor Giles Harrison, head of the Meteorology department.

“The 50th anniversary provided an ideal opportunity for a weather vane competition, and the mast, forlorn and purposeless for 20 years, has consequently now finally acquired the weather vane it deserves.”

And Dr Dacre’s design, made into stainless steel reality by a specialist company, is complete with a hidden message. But understanding it requires a little meteorology knowledge.

The design is based on the station circle symbol used to plot weather station data on maps – with the accompanying number representing the temperature.

The flag and lines (known as wind barbs) represent the wind speed and direction – a flag represents 50 knots, and the full and half barbs represent 10 and 5 knots respectively. The vane therefore shows 65 knots of wind.

So, eagle eyed students will be able to read 1965 – the year the department was established.

On her design being chosen, Dr Dacre said: “I’m delighted and honoured that my weather vane design has been used to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Meteorology department.  I hope that it remains on top of the building for the next 50 years.”

Charlie Hooker, from the University of Brighton’s School of Art, who was one of the judges of the competition, said: “What struck me about this design was that it was very elegant. As a sculptor, I could see that it was practical, but the message built into it was very original.”

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