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Keeping a simple weather Diary.
Feeling that the weather was quite important (!) I began keeping a local weather diary in 1989. Lacking any sophisticated weather monitoring equipment and seeing the need to keep the weather diary going for a long period of time I decided that simplicity was required. I opted for using my normal daily diary and added simple drawn icons at the top of each entry to represent the daily weather.
The examples show fairly constant rain on the 21st of September with a brief lull around midday. The 22nd was still overcast but the rain was lighter. On the 23rd the rain gradually peters out and the sun appears late in the afternoon. The 24th sees a clear blue sky and full sun throughout the day; lovely. It is fairly easy to add other icons to represent snow, lightning, wind etc with the size and emphasis conveying something of the intensity.
I was motivated partly by the familiar occurrence of people I met in my day to day activities declaiming how terrible the weather had been. Armed with the weather records in my diary I could quickly thumb through, checking my icons and point out that in fact it hadnít been that "bad" (ie. wet) at all.
I was also intrigued by the possibility of finding patterns to my local weather that could be used to improve my work on the land, especially with regard to growing food.
Patterning in the weather
After three years I had found a base pattern and the term "wet Wales" seemed entirely justified. Basically, during the late 1980s and early 1990s a western front moved across the coast every two, three or four days, pretty much throughout the year. This front brought one, two or three days of more or less regular rainfall, building to a peak and then dying out. Even at a peak, it seldom rained for the full twenty four hours and there was usually a short spell, sometimes as little as a quarter or half an hour, when it stopped, briefly. This led to me to counter the (at that time) oft heard pronunciation that "it always rains in Wales" with the observation that "it is extremely unusual for it to rain all day."
Apart from these brief moments of two to four days dry between fronts there were only a very few longer periods without rain, say one or two a year of up to a week that appeared unpredictably in the calendar. The only other pattern that emerged reasonably consistently was a two week dry spell that floated about from year to year in the spring. From a gardening point of view I was able to successfully make use of this knowledge on a number of years, taking the opportunity of a relatively slug free window to get seeds going. However, deciding whether a few days dry was really the start of the two week window or if a front was coming in the day after tomorrow proved difficult and I was caught out more than once.
Almost as soon as Iíd successfully identified this pattern and started using it, everything changed. Over the next fifteen years or so up to today, my local weather entries display no obvious patterns whatsoever other than the simple and incontrovertible fact that there are far fewer days of rain now than twenty years ago; far fewer. My diary for 2002, as well as including the many times repeated sun icon, records in words something of my utter astonishment at having a whole month of dry days with consistent sunshine and blue skies; unheard of! Since then the "month without rain" record has been bested again and again.
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