Even with massive supercomputers, predicting most things is about as accurate as tossing a coin or just guessing that things will stay the same as they already are. I kid you not, this has been tested.

But I am impressed with weather forecasting, I think it's improving. Most 5-7 day forecasts are pretty good, where I live anyway. But then this might be an illusion - most of it isn't terribly hard to figure out. Basically if you get any wind from west through to north, it's hot, because that's where the deserts are. And wind from any other direction cools everything down, and if it's wet in the northwest then winds from that direction carry all of that monsoonal rain with them.

If you live on a small island like anywhere in the UK, or New Zealand, it's going to be cool and wet, because you're basically sitting in a bath already and at least something that evaporates from the oceans around you is going to end up falling out of the sky on your head, and the ocean is going to absorb a lot of heat as well you not having any great exposed landmass to bake in the sun. If you're living in a lighthhouse in the middle of the North Sea, you're going to be wet, even when it isn't raining.

The weather is actually a giant messaging system. It always tells you about what things are like somewhere else. Winds mostly, every time you get even the faintest breeze, there's a difference in pressure between where you are and where the wind is coming from. Which is also a difference in temperature, and so on. And winds and other weather affect mood, economies - the whole shebang. There's an encyclopaedia there to be read, if we have the patience to try it. It's not just about moving air and temperature and moisture - weather isn't really about weather. It's about differences, and the air and water and earth are the channels through which the differences are communicated.

Weather isn't a local thing, the weather you get tells you very accurate things about what's happening somewhere else, most of which we don't understand. Without differences between where we are and other places, we woudn't have weather. And weather is what expresses the global in the local, on the grandest scale. But we mostly ignore it.

It's fun not to. It's the best bit of the nightly news, that's why they put it at the end. At the climax. (OK, that's not why they do it, but it's a theory that I like.) All of the news stories leading up to it supposedly tell you what's going on in the world, in miniscule dribs and drabs. But the weather gives you immediate, 100% accurate information of what's going on in the world, wherever you are, at every moment.

But we can't read it.


  1. I agree. The weather is the best bit of the nightly news. It allows us to see which way the wind blows.

  2. You should try predicting the weather up here on the Baltic coast! The only reliable constant in North German weather is the wind - it blows straight in your face when you're on your bike on the way to work, and by the evening it swings so it can hit you in the face on the way home as well - so "windswept" is a common term on the nightly news...

  3. Ha, well the message there is probably stay home.


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