‘Funny old weather again, isn’t it ?’
This is usually the first thing my mother says to me and it’s true; one day I’m shivering in my cagoule and the next I’m soaking up the sun in the garden. This unpredictability of the British weather perhaps explains why there is a near stampede to the coast when a blue sky is glimpsed. We don’t so much have a climate as weather. Archetypically, British greet each other, thus :
`Hello, how are you?
`I’m fine, thank you and how are you?
`Oh, Fine, thank you.’
A short awkward silence might then occur before one of the speakers falls back on the old staple of British conversation.
`Nice weather for the time of year.’
`I should say so.’
`Do you think it might rain later?’
I have a friend who once wrote a short story without using the letter `E’ and it is almost that hard to have a conversation without mentioning the weather here. The weather is often as mysterious as the odd socks that never find a partner or the spoon that appears in the bottom of the washing up water. If the weather was stable, there would be nothing to say about it and Britain would be quieter.
Nowadays, we have forecasts that have become increasingly accurate because of the use of satellites and computer models. But still in this day and age you can look at the forecast for tomorrow, prepare for the beach only to find it raining the next day. Here is a link to an infamous weather broadcast on the eve of a terrible hurricane known as the great storm www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqs1YXfdtGE.
Predicting the weather, is vital for shipping, agriculture and anyone at all who needs to be outdoors. For that reason scientists from all over the world have been studying weather patterns and trying to predict changes since ancient times. The onset of modern science has exponentially improved likelihood of a correct prediction. The picture, however, remains very complex with a host of possibilities and hence it is difficult to make an accurate prediction in a country like Britain with a rapid changing maritime climate until shortly before the weather actually happens. The Meteorological Office in the UK, boasts that rain is accurately predicted for the next day over 75 percent of the time. This may not seem so fantastic but the UK has the No. 1 weather forecasting modelling system in the world and so the 25 percent inaccuracy simply represents the peculiar difficulty of prediction in this country. The history of forecasting in the UK is in fact very distinguished, see http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/who.
Climate, of course, is rather different to weather. We have often had a washout summer but Met Office records that the overall pattern indicates global warming. They did not arrive at this conclusion by themselves but with the help of many scientists in many countries for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years, who kept records. There have been conferences on global warming and negotiations have been with regard to economic situations. Unfortunately, the climate itself is not open to negotiation and it will act as it always has without any regard to our welfare. Hopefully, the human climate will change and the climate sceptics will eventually trust the science that allows them to fly and put humans into space. Hope you enjoy the weather, where you are and if not, you have something to talk about at least.