What is meteorology and why is it important?

Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere, atmospheric phenomena, and atmospheric effects on our weather. Meteorology is important because of the impact of air conditions on life.

First of all weather forecasting has a vital role in preparing for extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures, heavy rain in order to prevent disasters.

Second, long term weather forecasting is important for agriculture. Drought can cause starvation. Meteorology is important for farmers since crops need water to grow up.

Meteorology is also important for both air and marine transportation. Windy weather effect planes and ships. Lightning can be dangerous for planes. High seas can impact on shipping. Airports may stop their operations and ships stay in harbours in extreme weather conditions.

It is also important so we can determine our daily activities and go about these in safety.

Safe Communities Portugal and the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere have therefore collaborated together in order to promote the importance of the IPMA’s work in our day to day lives. The purpose of this page is to provide an introduction to their work and where more detailed information on their excellent comprehensive website can be found.

Simply click on the tab on the right of this page to link to the relevant pages of the IPMA website.

Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA)

The IPMA is a public institute, integrated in the indirect administration of the State, endowed with administrative and financial autonomy and its own patrimony.

The IPMA, IP, continues the attributions of the Ministry of the Sea, under the oversight and tutelage of the respective minister.

The strategic guidelines and goals for IPMA, I. P., as well as the monitoring of their implementation, are articulated between members of the Government responsible for the sea and science.

IPMA has responsibilities at national territory level in the areas of the sea and atmosphere. Focusing its research efforts on projects that accrue to direct applications for use in operating activities, pursuing continuous improvement in the information made available to its users whether for commercial use or public service and in particular directed to the safeguard of people and property.


The IPMA is the state laboratory whose mission is to promote and coordinate scientific research, technological development, innovation and service on the seas and atmosphere, ensuring the implementation of national strategies and policies in their areas of expertise, thus contributing to the economic and social development. IPMA, IP, is the national authority in the fields of meteorology, aeronautical meteorology, climate, seismology, and geomagnetism.


IPMA should be an institution of reference at international level, for the accuracy and effectiveness with which it performs its technical and scientific duties of support for state action, as well as the relevance and impact of R & D that develops.


Competence, Reliability, Accuracy, Efficiency.


Marine – Support to strategic plans in term of analysis and surveys

Meteorological, Seismological and Biological survey and monitoring

Investigation and development in the areas of:

  • Climate change
  • Remote sensing
  • Risk evaluation
  • Tsunami early warning system
  • Assessment and prediction of environmental status
  • Fisheries Science and Management
  • Innovative technologies for the development of aquaculture
  • Support for value-added activities
  • Development in technologies and exploration of new products


Although the IPMA is the official meteorology authority in Portugal there are other institutes both international and national that provide very useful information, and some of these referred to frequently by Safe communities Portugal are referred to here.


ECMWF is the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

It is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing global numerical weather predictions and other data for our Member and Co-operating States and the broader community. The Centre has one of the largest supercomputer facilities and meteorological data archives in the world. Other strategic activities include delivering advanced training and assisting the WMO in implementing its programmes.

It operates two services from the EU’s Copernicus Earth observation programme, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). We also contribute to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS).

One of these the CEMS, is used to identify areas burned during rural fires as well as the positioning of active fires. We used this extensively during the 2018 Monchique fire.

CEMS also has a feature which shows the Fire Danger throughout Europe by day based on the FWI i.e. the Rural Fire Hazzard. This determines how easily fires may start and spread based on six factors. This use feature can be downloaded here.


Meteoalarm developed for EUMETNET, the Network of European Meteorological Services, provides the most relevant information needed to prepare for extreme weather, expected to occur somewhere over Europe.

It will alert you to the possible occurrence of severe weather, such as heavy rain with risk of flooding, severe thunderstorms, gale-force winds, heat waves, forest fires, fog, snow or extreme cold with blizzards, avalanches or severe coastal tides.

In one glance you will be able to see where in Europe the weather might become dangerous. The colours used on the website maps indicate the severity of the danger and its possible impact. On the European map each participating country is coloured consistent with the highest colour assigned to a current warning. Clicking on a country will link you to national and regional warnings. Download here. 

Severe Weather Europe

Severe Weather Europe is a severe weather resource website. We cover severe weather in Europe and the Mediterranean, providing daily 1-day, 2-day and 3-5 day severe weather outlooks, ongoing severe weather activity and recent event reports. This is a particularly useful resources with excellent and comprehensive weather maps. Their latest news highlights sever weather expected in Europe over the next few days and is an essential reference point when planning to travel.

Centro Meteo

CentroMeteo offers a wide range of weather forecasting service and weather charters by country though out Europe. Their charts cover precipitation, cloud, air pressure- wind currents, local weather charts and travel weather information. Their weather information is taken from nation meteology authorities. It also includes national severe weather charts.

Their maps are based on ECMWF models and can be downloaded here 

Meteo Earth

This is a global weather resources showing wind, cloud cover, temperatures, precipitation, tropical storms and air pressure though interactive mapping. Users can build maps through using different layers. It is part of the MeteoGroup and is Europe’s largest private weather business with offices around the world. Founded in 1986, it combines experience and global coverage with local expertise to offers customers highly accurate and bespoke weather services.


Similar to Meteo Earth, this show maps with different layers which can be selected by users, covering, lightning, waves, clouds, rain thunderstorms, temperature, rain accumulation. Charters are interactive and are shown daily for a forecast period of 10 days. This is one of the easiest maps to use in terms of navigation and for quick reference.


The Ventusky web application has been developed by InMeteo, in collaboration with Marek Mojzík and Martin Prantl. They are a Czech meteorological company based in Pilsen. It focuses on weather prediction and meteorological data visualisation. They have a wealth of experience in presenting weather data from their portal, In-počasí, which was founded in 2006 and is now one of the highest-traffic servers in the Czech Republic. The clear displays of meteorological data from around the world and allows viewers to monitor weather development for any place on earth. Useful facility is local forecasts using your courser on their map, which can be downloaded here..