Last night I remarked to Julia that we could make great economies in the cost of TV by simply junking all the local TV weather presenters. They simply stand around, look vacuous and get things wrong in front of a green screen.
Last night’s forecast was a typical example, as a woman in an unsuitably garish dress stood up and revealed that by 5.00pm it would probably be raining very close to a dot in the midlands that had “Nottingham” written by it. It was no more informative than the national forecast had been, though we’d had to guess the position of Nottingham.
She disagreed. Well, she always does. The local forecasts, she tells me, are essential to her work in the gardens.
OK, I said, let’s see what 5.00 brings.
Well, 4.00 brought heavy rain. It was so heavy that it was bouncing up about a foot after hitting the car roof. I watched from inside the shop and mentioned the fact that it wasn’t supposed to rain until it virtually missed us at 5.00.
“It says,” said one of the others, checking the internet, “that we currently have a 49% chance of rain.”
“That means,” said, “that this is what a 51% chance of no rain looks like.”
It looked very wet.
Julia told me, when she got home, that her internet had shown a 90% chance of rain when she checked at 5.00. By that time she was on the way home after being comprehensively soaked. She still wouldn’t admit t6hat the local forecast was useless.
Me? I’m sure that in the days of my youth we used to laugh at the uselessness of forecasting. Later, when I was in my 30s, I used to find the farming forecast quite accurate. Now it seems that they are variable. Sometimes they are still brilliant, but other times bear only a coincidental resemblance to what was prophesied. You can still select a week to go on holiday, maybe even a day for a daytrip, but if they predict rain in the afternoon I’d allow a 12 hour window and pack a mac just to be on the safe side.
As for the internet prediction, we can all be wise after the event. It’s a bit like my grandad’s weather forecasting seaweed that used to hang on his back wall. As he once told me, you can tell the weather from that. If you feel the seaweed and it feels wet, it means it’s raining.
Of course, both my grandfather’s lived in Lancashire. That’s the county where they say that if you can look out to sea and see the Isle of Man, it means it’s going to rain. If you can’t see the Isle of Man, it already is raining.