Meteorological staff at key centres in Britain will down atmospheric charts for three hours over a cold front with the Prime Minister, who has refused them a pay rise.
But critics condemned the strike, which will only last from 2pm to 5pm, as a publicity stunt – and insisted that forecasting errors meant it would make “no difference” to ordinary people’s lives.
The day of action has been organised by science industry and professionals union Prospect, which is calling on David Cameron to allow the Met Office to pay market rates to retain and recruit skilled staff.
The union argues the public sector pay freeze is preventing the Met Office from attracting the high-calibre staff needed to ensure it remains a world leader in meteorological research.
And a spokesman said the afternoon strike will see hundreds of employees at the Met Office in Edinburgh and elsewhere down tools, walk out and set up picket lines.
But Tory councillor Cameron Rose insisted the strike would go unnoticed by ordinary residents.
He said: “I just don’t see it making any difference to people. It’s just a way of them getting publicity, and I don’t think it will have much significance at all.
“I would be happy to point out as well that the weathermen are not in control of the weather – and sometimes they get it wrong.”
Lead Prospect representative Gordon Hutchinson said the action was “unprecedented” in the recent history of the profession.
He said: “It shows how strongly people feel about a government pay policy completely at odds with what the Prime Minister advocates for the private sector.”
A Met Office spokesman said: “We’re disappointed that some staff have chosen to take this action but we are confident our robust business continuity measures will reduce the impact of the action.
“We recognise the right of staff to take this action based on a legal mandate.”