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After the “barbecue summer” washout and the mild winter that turned to deep freeze, the apparent inability of the Met Office to predict the weather has become something of a national joke. Now people will get the chance to find out just how easy forecasting actually is. Under government plans to be announced tomorrow, the Met Office is to be forced to release its raw data so that others can draw their own conclusions.

Readings from thousands of Met Office posts will be disclosed, allowing rival companies to offer their own forecasts — or even for amateurs to monitor the weather.

It is hoped that introducing competition in forecasts may improve their accuracy and make it easier for companies and individuals to prepare for different types of weather.

“This represents the largest volume of high-quality weather data and information made available by a national meteorological organisation anywhere in the world,” a Whitehall source said last night.

Earlier this year, a parliamentary committee censured the body for failing to warn the public of the coldest December last year in 100 years.

The Met Office also predicted rainstorms for the royal wedding, leaving thousands of spectators baking in anoraks in warm sunshine.

The “weather free for all” forms part of a new Government transparency drive to be included in its growth strategy, which forms part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and which ministers hope will help the lacklustre economic recovery.

A new Open Data Institute, co-directed by Prof Sir Tim Berners- Lee, the inventor of the internet, and Prof Nigel Shadbolt, another web expert, will be opened in Shoreditch, east London, to develop ways for private companies to benefit from government information.

Ministers will also announce new initiatives to release more transport and health data this week – a project which has benefited from the direct involvement of David Cameron in recent weeks.

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