Blog : Posts tagged with 'rain' : Page 1

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It’s all in the timing

In which we are not as wet as we might have been


Last weekend, feeling like we needed a holiday, we went away and pitched the tent. And it rained. The tent, fortunately, didn’t leak, but we ended up with great puddles round the door, a wading trip whenever we wanted to go in or out. Our last morning, we looked out to see ducks sitting and paddling in the water.

Still, it could have been worse. For no particular reason, we’d decided to visit Somerset. If we’d gone a week or even half a week, we’d still be there now, camping by a river. And we’d be rather deeper in the water.

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Holiday Weather

In which we remember how cold it was in Wales


All of a sudden, this week, summer seems to be on the way. It can’t just be that we’re doing everything an hour later than we were a week ago. There’s something particular about a cool summer morning, or a drowsy summer evening, that this week has in spades.

By comparison: here’s some photos from Wales, not even a fortnight ago now, but another season entirely.

Menai Strait, Caernarfon Rain on the window Why was it called Snowdonia again? Ruined building with waterwheel, Llechwedd Slate Caverns

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Typical

In which we’re weatherbeaten


Yes, typical. I write something about how unreliable the long-range weather forecast is, and what happens? It’s right for once. And the short term forecast – no snow in Wales – was wrong, too. We had a weekend of rain, sleet, snow, hail, wind. When I started to put the tent up, and was engulfed in a cloud of hail, I should have known it was a bad sign.

Still, the tent didn’t leak very much; and, by wearing all the clothes we’d brought at once, we kept warm. Roll on the next camping trip!

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Predicting the future

In which we worry about the weather


It’s a hard thing to do.

The other week, as there’s a long weekend coming up, I booked a camping holiday, in Wales. Only a day or two later, the news outlets started running stories about how awful the Easter weekend weather was going to be; wind, rain, sleet and snow. Oh dear.

There’s still snow on the forecast for Northumbria; but the forecast for the Welsh weather, though, has got noticeably better over the past few days. It’s gone from sleet, to showers, to sunny periods. And I’ve noticed this happening before. There seems to be a tendency now for the forecasts to be more extreme further off, before calming down as the date approaches.

Which is statistically what you’d expect, of course. Extreme weather is, by definition, unlikely, and shorter-range forecasts are always more accurate, so any extreme weather in a long-range forecast is likely to mellow as the forecast gets closer. That doesn’t stop the news jumping on any forecasts of horrible blizzards, though. I’m still worried that the snow forecast for the north Pennines is going to creep southwards over the weekend.

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Statistics and probability

In which we think about flooding and chance


In the summer, we had big floods up here, worse floods than anyone in this village could remember. It was, apparently, a once in fifty years event.

Now: we’ve got floods again, six months later. Maybe not a once in fifty years event, true, but let’s say (for the sake of argument) that this is a once-in-twenty-five year flood.

Maths time: in any 6 months, your chance of having a 1-in-50 year flood is 1/100. 1/50 for the more likely 25-year flood. The chance of having both, though, is those numbers multiplied together. 1 in 5000. Which doesn’t, at face value, look like a particularly big number; but that’s because we’re not great at judging magnitude. Something that has that chance of happening within 6 months should, on average, have happened once in the last 2,500 years. That’s once, since the start of the Iron Age.*

The problem with probability, though, is that you can’t say: this will definitely only happen once. It could happen three times within a week,** and still be within the bounds of probability. It could still happen, within the rules of our simple model; it is just highly unlikely to happen. If it does, you’ve just seen something amazing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your starting figures are off. On the other hand: if something happens that, according to your figures, is highly unlikely, it does make more sense sometimes to decide that the numbers you’re basing your statistics on are out of date. Suddenly, big floods aren’t rare any more.

* slightly more than once, to be honest, because the Iron Age started about 2,700 years ago.

** Hull was flooded twice, 14 days apart, in summer 2007. Some of the floodwaters in unimportant places, such as verges and parks, still hadn’t drained from the first flood when the second (and worse) flood came. That, though, means that normal “multiply the two numbers together” probabilities don’t work. The two floods weren’t independent of each other, because of all that water lying about, so the probability of the second was rather lower than it would have been.

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Why the weather doesn’t bother me

In which FP is remarkably un-bothered


“Ohh, isn’t it awful weather lately?” people keep saying. “It feels like it’s winter already.”

Well, the weather doesn’t bother me.

Cool days are a good thing. Summer heat is too hot. A cool grey breezy day is relaxed, the sort of day work can get done. A windier day is energetic, the sort of day you want to do work. Both are useful.

Rain is a good thing. Rain doesn’t bother me either. I don’t mind walking in it, getting slightly wet, when I can always get dry again later.

The one other reason the weather doesn’t bother me, though: I rarely see it anyway. I don’t smoke. Room 3B (the IT office) has no windows. I’m insulated. Some days I wish there was a cool grey breeze on me, instead of the standard filtered and air-conditioned air that flows out of the ceiling vent.* But, nevertheless, the weather doesn’t bother me.

* Although we had to fight to get it, if you remember back that far.

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Alarming

In which there is a flood, and the flood sirens stay silent as per specification


A few months back now, the Local Council decided to spend lots and lots of money on flood warning. They picked the most advanced flood warning system they could find, and erected enormous, giant-scale towers around the town, with large banks of speakers on top. They published maps of the town, with circles spattered over them, looking rather like those 1980s maps of nuclear blast radius,* so everyone knew which areas would be able to hear the flood sirens.

And now, with the worst rainfall for years, and roads closed or barely passable all over town, what have the flood sirens done? Absolutely bugger all, of course. Because that’s not the sort of flood they’re designed for. They’re to warn us against floods from the river defences failing, or the New Haven** bursting its banks. Neither have happened, although the New Haven looked to be within a few inches of a breach yesterday. Instead, we have flooding here because the Council don’t bother cleaning the drains out, so all the rainwater puddles on the roads.

* Talking of nuclear blast radius, who was the “psychic” who “predicted” that Hull would be destroyed by a nuclear attack in 1981? I really must look him up some time.

** It’s the “New” bit of the sluggish stream running through town, because it was cut in the sixteenth century.

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FP asked me to post this

In which it rains


It is of course pissing down. We are loitering within tent.

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Signs you’re English part 94: talking about the weather

In which we know it’s winter


Whenever you drive into Wooldale, there are big signs at the start of the road:

SNOW

followed by a list of all the main local roads, with lamps to flash if any of them are closed. And they never are, at least not when I drive up into Wooldale. Which is, to be honest, a shame. I’d rather like to drive up there through softly-falling snow and see the list of closed roads flashing at me. But, no, the roads are always open, with no flakes to be seen anywhere.

Last night, for example, was just the same as any other. There were thunderstorms, heavy rain pouring down and almost flooding the road back up to the motorway, but that was just down to blocked drains. It felt fairly warm, for January at least. No sign of snow at all, even at 2am when I left the club to head home. So I was slightly puzzled to wake up this morning, and hear that Wooldale had been snowed in. When it comes down, it can come sudden.

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Sleep cures everything

In which we quote an old song


…but insomnia.*

I laid in bed last night listening to the rain on the window, the wind howling under the eaves, and the grumbling of our ancient heating system, wondering what mistake I’d made, if there was one, and if I’m falling into too much of a pattern.

There is a cycle, going round and round, which I seem doomed to repeat, and which I can’t learn how to break out of. And I sometimes wonder if I’m ever going to break out of it at all.

* and if you know where I stole that line from, you get Extra Geekpoints

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