Freeing French Weather

Le Free, c’est payant maintenant(1) may be an amusing by-line for a French Internet commercial but people are being increasingly confronted by this new reality following the crash. Even the French Weather service jumped on the bandwagon of charging for what was once free, earlier in the summer.

Following an expensive, flashy and not altogether usable revamp Météo France introduced charges to its four day web based weather service. This caused howls of pain from backcountry enthusiasts who complained that it was a threat to safety. It has to be pointed out that this was merely reverting to the situation when these services were only available over the costly French Minitel system. Still it was hardly progress.

It seems that someone at the largely state funded weather services heard the message. From the 25th of November a national and regional four-day forecast will once again be available although detailed local forecasts will still be charged. Météo France claim that 56,000 people have subscribed to their weather service since June and say the charges are necessary to maintain the web based service whose use is growing at a rate of 30% per year.

Météo France was criticized in a recent edition of Capital - a programme on the M6 channel. The program showed how a small company used free information available from the US weather service to provided detailed forecasts for France at much lower costs. Météo France employs 3,700 civil servants. They are involved in weather forecasting, both for public and private use. Ferrari use special Météo France reports for predicting which tires to run in Formula 1. Météo France also provide avalanche forecasts and are involved in a wide range of research work including work on climate change.

Météo France main page

More French Weather Resources

1. free, costs money these days

Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 24 November, 2004 at 02:29 PM

If you know where to look the local 4-day forecasts are still available for free on the Météo France website. We don’t know whether this is a simple oversight.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 26 November, 2004  at 12:19 AM
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