Weathering

21st January 2017

10:24 Bright, clear blue sky, cold, some frost – the frost is disappearing more quickly than yesterday. There is a thick layer of ice on the water bucket in the garden and a thin layer on top of the water in the cool box. The overnight temperature was between – 4 ºC  and -6 ºC. The new fridge arrived yesterday, so this is the last morning that I shall have to go into the garden to get milk for breakfast.

11:40 According to official sources, the temperature is  0 ºC and there is dense fog – don’t know about the temperature, but I can’t see any fog, which just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything that you read online.Having said that, there is something that looks like smoke coming from the car park at the bottom of the garden – not really a place where you would expect (or want) smoke – I suppose it could be smoke signals – makes a change to people hanging out on their balconies and talking into their mobiles at full volume.

It remained clear and very cold (max. 4 ºC) for the rest of the day. Dusk was beautiful – the lower sky was touched with a gentle orange whilst the upper sky gradually became a darker blue with the evening star shimmering like a diamond.

23:22 -4 ºC.

20th January 2017

09:00 Bright, clear blue sky, frosty, sunny. The frost is everywhere – on the car, on the shed roof, along the fence and it’s quite cold – the ice in the cooler box doesn’t appear to have melted any more overnight (-5 ºC).  There’s a thinness to the blue of the sky and there’s a solitary fat seagull floating around in it. The light is amazing – everything green, including my manky old hedge is golden.

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13:30 There’s still frost on the shed roof. There’s blossom on next door’s Japanese Cherry tree.

14:30 The frost has finally gone and the shed roof is just looking soggy.

The rest of the day was clear and bright, but cold.

The new fridge arrived, which means that, by tomorrow, I should have fully functioning climate control. I took care to buy the one brand that doesn’t stop working and a model that is “frost free” – more weather words. The slightly strange thing is that the optimum operating temperature for the fridge is +5 ºC, which is almost 10 ºC warmer than the temperature outside.

19th January 2017

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Morning: the cool box is still doing well. The ice seems not to have gone down and there are now two thermos flasks.

I have fallen a bit behind in recording my weather observations and so am limited to what I remember (not much) or what I have made a note of, which makes me realise how much of our thinking about the weather is in the present.

18th January 2017

Morning – cold and clear. The cool box in the garden is doing well. The set up now consists of a bag of ice, some freezer blocks that had been left out overnight and a thermos flask of milk. There is a little water in the bottom, but the bag of ice is pretty much in tact – not suprising as the temperature got down to minus five last night.

12:00- ish. The frost has largely gone. Car windscreens in a shaded side road still have ice on their windscreens, but it’s at that tipping point where it’s just hanging on before turning to slush. I learnt a new weather word today: rime – frost formed on objects by the rapid freezing of water.

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14:30 Blue skies and dappled cloud

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Shower of rain at Nihon Bridge (1832-35, Hiroshigi)

This afternoon I went to look at some Japanese prints in Gallery 29 at the Ashmolean. Weather is often featured – partly I think because the print-makers are concerned with landscapes and weather tends to go with outdoorsy things. The thing with the landscapes, though, is that they are influenced by Western art, so I’m not sure if the weather results from imitation or whether it is intrinsic to Japanese art. Anyway, lots of snow scenes and occasional showers.

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16:50 Just coming out of The Ashmolean – the sky to the West is amazing. Cotton wool clouds – white against crimson – so soft and three-dimensional that you just want to take a handful of sky and bury your face in it. It was impossible to capture the intensity of the colour and the softness of the sky in a photograph.

17th January 2017

10:30 The ground and the fences are still wet, but it looks brighter, with hints of blue and seems colder – not very cold, but a slight sharpness in the air – a dry cold rather than a damp one. There’s a touch of air movement, but not a breeze.

The temperature was 2 ºC overnight and is now 4 ºC : we tend to think that how warm it is depends on how much sun is getting through, but these figures are a reminder that the temperature is also dependent on how much heat is lost from the earth, which is itself dependent on things like cloud cover and the warming or cooling effects of air movement.

If it is generally warmer when it rains, is this because the rain itself carries some heat even though the effect on warm bodies is generally chilling – or because rain tends to involve cloud cover – or both?

There’s 8:23 hrs of sun and 12:11 hrs of moon today ( +/- 30 minutes since 5th January).

Invest in 1 kg of ice (£1) and put it in a cool box in the garden with a bottle of milk. A little micro climate.

16th January 2017

10:00 Overcast and a bit wet – difficult to tell whether it’s raining. Still mild.

Rains on and off for the rest of the day. Definitely classifiable as a “wet day” or possibly “another wet day”. Mild. Temperature was 8 ºC overnight and 6 ºC during the day.

I’m being unexpectedly affected by the milder weather. Since the demise of the fridge on Saturday, the temperature is really critical. If it was as cold as last week, I could leave freezer packs outside at night and be able to store milk and other items in a cool box, but it’s impossible at the moment. The weather really does affect everything.

15th January 2017

Rain – and it’s obviously been raining for some time. The rain is thin, light and, because of its lightness, quick. It’s coming down at an angle, so presumably there’s some wind from the East – if it was vertical it would be heavy drizzle: but it isn’t. An odd bit of rain has caught the glass in the front door creating thin beaded streaks – a bit like the slashes in Elizabethan velvet. Much milder (14.2 ºC in the kitchen 9 ºC outside.

I thought that the rain sounded like red lentils being dropped gently onto a metal baking tray, but later corrected this to red lentils being dropped gently onto a plastic food box lid. As the morning progressed, the rain became heavier and more vertical so that the sound was of red lentils being poured onto the same plastic lid. Interesting use of the word “pour” – although rain water, the analogy is with the sound of dried goods being poured – not liquid.

When it’s raining people walk with their heads tipped forward and their shoulders hunched. Large pools/ small lakes of water form at the roadside due to the camber of the road and cars either avoid them or drive through creating waves – a nerve-inducing state of affairs for pedestrians.

It stopped raining at about 13:30, by which time everything was wet and dripping and was dry with half-hearted intermittent shower for the rest of the day, but everything. Much milder. Daytime temperatures were 8 to 9 ºC.

14th January 2017

Dry, dull rather than dark, with thickish grey-white cloud. No obvious frost or ice. A touch cold, but not penetratingly so. A touch of movement in the air, but not really a breeze – the straggly rose is barely moving. The fridge seems to have packed up, but I wonder whether that is to do with the cold. Official temperature 2 ºC, feeling like 1 ºC – tried turning up the heat in the hall and leaving the kitchen door open to see if that helps.

The wind changed direction on the East coast overnight and flooding and disaster were averted.

11:52 Yellow warning of snow and ice for London & South East England : Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest, Slough, Surrey, West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Greater London, East Sussex, Kent & Medway.

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Malfunctioning micro-climate

23:25 I think that the day probably continued as it began, but didn’t go out, so didn’t really notice. Official sources show a temperature of around 4 ºC, but very little wind, which may explain why it didn’t really feel cold (that and the fact that I had the heating turned up to try and coax the fridge into action – didn’t work). An unremarkable day except for the malfunction micro-climate in the kitchen.

13th January 2017

img_148609:00 Dry. Sky clear and becoming blue. A touch of frost on the car and the shed roof, which is starting to go. Slight breeze. 2 ºC – feels like -4 ºC, wind is 18 km/h from the west. Forecast is for a cold bright day -a wrapping up warmly and enjoying the sun day. Consultation with the friend who is due to visit confirms that it will be safe to drive and it should be a good day for walking round town.

Snow, high winds and flooding bring travel chaos to Britain – live updates

– Guardian, 13th January 2017


Whilst this is true, it is only true for some areas. The problem is that it risks becoming the national story as if it’s true of the whole country when it clearly isn’t and emphasises the very local nature of weather.

9:29 It’s dark, cloudy and snowing. The snow flakes are tiny, speeding down from the sky at an angle of 45º. This isn’t what was forecast and threatens the day’s plans.

10:30 Bright and sunny again (phew!)

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Long shadows in the middle of the day (13:15)

The rest of the day is mainly bright, sunny and cold. Occasionally it clouds over and becomes noticeably colder. There’s also a strong intermittent wind which makes heavy hanging shop signs sway and creak and makes scarves fly like pennants. Even in the middle of the day, there are long shadows. A cold day for people working on building sites.

22:00 The major news story is also weather-related. There is a very real risk of flooding along the East coast due to the threat of flooding from a combination of high-tides, low pressure and a storm-surge (new word).

According the the Met Office, a storm surge is caused mainly by high winds causing sea water to build up (they say “pile up”) at the coast. Low pressure can also cause the sea level to rise – a bit like sucking water up a straw.

The warning today is the most serious – risk to life, but lots of people are refusing to be evacuated. In previous years, some people have chosen to stay with their pets, so the authorities have made provisions, but some people still remain. People are entitled to make their own choice, but if there is flooding, they will expect to be rescued, placing other people at risk.

12th January 2017

08:50 (!) Dull (or maybe just earlier than I’m used to) and dry. Everything is dry for the first time in days – the ground and the lawn are bone dry and there’s no condensation on the car or the dustbins. It’s a touch cold, but the heating goes on as a matter of habit and just to take the edge off. Some breeze – the tree opposite is moving very slightly.  3 ºC (feels like 3) , wind 7 km/h from the south-south-west.

11:30 Raining solidly and determinedly – looks set for the day. Saw someone riding a bicycle whilst holding an umbrella in one hand. This is rain that you don’t want to be out in.

13:33 Learnt a new word – “thundersnow”.

15:10 Very dark

16:09 Snowing in heavy wet splodges- more like rain – perhaps a mixture of the two. With the greatest respect to my good friends at Daily Info, it is not “light and delightful” it’s just cold and wet. Still very dark and feeling very cold. 4 ºC  (feels like 0 ºC) , although 6 ºC according to The Oxford Mail. If you want a photo, you’re going to have to get it yourself – my talents do not extend to capturing that amount of sheer unadulterated misery. I’m staying put.

19:00 It’s stopped snowing

23:15 Clear and cold. Very cold. Cut-through-you-like-a-knife cold. The ground is dry, although occasional patches of water are frozen and treacherous. There are frost whorls on the roof of the car (what causes that?) and the windscreen is beginning to ice, but clears easily. 0 ºC  (feels like minus 9).

11th January 2017

09:55 Bright. Blue sky with some white cloud. A touch of cold – my fingers are cold down to the first joint.

The breeze appears to be a little stronger than yesterday – the branches on the big tree opposite are moving. Very much a wrap-up-warm-and-go-for-a-brisk-walk-day.Indoor temperature 14.2 ºC; officially 11 ºC, feeling like 9 ºC; wind 12 mph from the south-west.

11:45 Wind distinctly stronger – certainly strong enough to make a compete mess of your hair (14 mph from the south or the west, depending on where you look); 5 ºC .

16:30 At around this time in the afternoon it’s possible for it to be both light and dark. If you were to ask people, some would say that it was still light; others (certainly drivers who have had to switch their lights on) would say that it is dark.

18:45 Full or almost full moon, surrounded by little fluffy seagull-shaped clouds – gathered round like acolytes. You can make out the details on the surface with the naked eye. My pocket camera can’t cope with a subject as grand and, in terms of light, complex, as the moon, so I take a picture when I get home – in the time I take to do this (not long, as I am becoming expert at such things) my hands are very cold down to the wrists – cold enough to need gloves or pockets.

Moon (Jan 11th))

10th January 2017

15:15 Darker. Thick grey clouds have moved in from the west and the south and curtailed the light. Intermittent gusts made the leaves shake, then became stronger and started to make the hedge and the twiggier tree branches move. It feels colder (officially 8 ºC, feeling like 5 ºC).

Clouds darkening (Jan 10th)

13:11 – 14:50 Bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

23:00 No sign of killer Arctic storms.

Similar to yesterday morning, in fact. Overcast with a monotone off-white sky, but a tad brighter. Mild with a slight nip in the air – fingers are cold down to the second knuckle (and the fingers on my right hand are colder than those on my left, despite the fact that my left hand is nearer the window and I use my right hand to hold my coffee and the indoor temperature is 14.2 ºC/ 13.8 ºC). The straggly rose is moving slightly, but everything else is still. 9 ºC .

Rewatched To Walk Invisible – a drama about the Brontës and was struck by the opening lines of Jane Eyre:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. … the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

9th January 2017

10:00 Everything is clouds and the sky is mottled – grey on grey – a bit like yesterday but darker and greyer. There is a bit of air movement – not quite a breeze, but everything in the garden is moving. Wind 10 km/h (6 point something mph) from the southwest.

Grey clouds (9th Jan)

14:00 Clouds moving quickly across the sky – 17 km/h (10½ mph) – still from the southwest 9 ºC (feels like 4). No need for heating except to dry clothes. According to the front page of the Daily Express, we’re going to be facing 4 inches of snow and temperatures of minus 10 by the end of the week. Yeah, right. Check Met Office just in case  +4ºC/-1ºC and no snow.

Moon (9th Jan)

18:08 Dark, clear and cold. Stars and filling moon crystal clear. Much colder – reflect that cold weather is like love – “you can feel it in your fingers and feel in your toes (Love is All Around, Trogs, 1967).

Oh, all right then …

Moon (9th Jan)

Killer Arctic Storms on the Way

– Daily Star front page, 9th January 2017, noted 23:30


22:45 Still a clear, beautiful night with stars glittering against the dark dome of heaven. Moon is now in the north.

Over the past few days, it’s been a real battle with condensation in the car – you have to have windows open, heat going full blast and constantly wiping away the latest buildup at traffic lights.

Signs on the roads warning of flood (no flood) and ice (no ice)

8th January 2017

09:49 Dull and wet. Might have rained overnight – don’t know. 8°C. Spider’s web over front of porch beaded with tiny globes of water.

Dull all day, warm enough not to need the heating on (ten degrees max./ average six).

14:45 Sky grey, but not quite leaden – brighter to the east and the west, with small patches of blue.  15:00 Started to spit.

There was an all pervasive dampness on the ground and much else – wood, grass, trees, stones, pavements. It’s a dampness that helps to decay once-living things – November’s leaves are already soddening back to earth.

Damp, decaying leaves

Soddening back to earth

7th January 2017

10:02 Dull, but not raining. The sky is a monotone dirty white with no hint of blue and there’s a distinct blocking out of light – you definitely need lights on indoors. There are beads of water on the straggly rose. All is still.The ground is wet – the bottom half of the garden shed and parts of the fence are still visibly damp.

How does all this cloud work at a molecular level? Is sunlight bouncing off droplets of water in the air? If I remember rightly, the cloud must be absorbing infra-red radiation and acting as a sort of blanket for the Earth – or, at least, this bit of it. Eleven degrees – that’s a springtime temperature.


Five and ten and twenty-one
Winter, spring and summer sun

– Winning entry in Tomorrow’s World competition to find an easy way of understanding weather forecasts in celsius, quite a long time ago, possibly 1985 – the prize was immortality


Late morning, some occasional fine-mist rain – enough to mess up your glasses, but little else.

It stayed dark and damp, though not rainy. About half past three, I went for a walk – something I wouldn’t normally do on a Saturday afternoon – because it was light, but came back in the dark at five. On the way back, I had a conversation with a man I know who was sitting out on the pavement – we talked about the weather – we thought the same thing about the dampness – shared detailed factual information about recent and projected temperatures and seasonal variations – cultures are rooted in such shared experiences.

6th January 2017

9:57  Brightish, but cloud, white not shining is blocking out the light. There are small hints of a water-colour pale blue if you look closely. The straggly rose at the bottom of the garden is moving slightly, but everything else is still. The frost has gone – only the sad-looking sages still has whiteness clinging to its leaves; most of the water has run off the car, but most surfaces are frost-free and generally dry.Currently 3 degrees, feeling like 1. Down to minus five overnight, but the forecast is better, so likely to have been the last SWEP night for a while.


It’s raining. It’s pouring.
The old man’s snoring


14:15 By the time I went into town, it was raining in a half-hearted  not-sure-whether-it-could-be-bothered way. Most people were just ignoring it – a few – mainly Chinese – had their umbrellas up. The buses didn’t have their windscreen wipers on. Pavements were shiny and reflective, but also appeared dirty, because such water as there was had mixed with whatever sits on the surface.

14:50 Raining properly. The indigenous population were now going about their brisk business under the shelter of grimly-gripped brollies. Drops were falling into puddles and creating very small and very shot-lived waves – there’s something deeply mathematical and cosmic about this innocent transfer of energy. It continued to rain for the rest of the day.

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Drops form short-lived waves

It was dark before 5pm. There was something oppressive about the combined effect of the rain and darkness that just made you want to be inside – in a way, the darkness was worst. There was a coldness – the penetrating, debilitating coldness that comes with damp. I just wanted to get home.

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Just want to go home

17:00 Going home on the bus, everything smelled damp – the windows were covered with condensation which made the outside world seem alien – cold, dark, blurred and full of people who really didn’t want to be there.

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The windows were covered with condensation

5th January 2017

At 8:00 J said it was cold in Oxford –  minus eight overnight, he said. Online it said he was right – minus seven point something. Either way, it was a SWEP night.


SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) is the provision of additional emergency overnight accommodation for rough sleepers in cold weather. It kicks in when the Met Office forecasts temperatures of 0°C or lower for three consecutive nights.

A “SWEP night” is a very cold night.


It was minus one now, it said, but felt like minus four. I put my hand through the letterbox (still in my pyjamas) and said I didn’t think it was that cold and it looked like a nice clear sunny day. Checked forecast for next week and reassured him that it seemed set to be less cold for his upcoming visit next week.

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Went out at 13:15. It was bitter (why “bitterly” cold?) By the time I’d driven to the shops my fingers felt hard and bony – all the softness had gone from my fingers and it felt as if the only thing protecting my bones was a layer of skin-tight, skin-thin gloves.

It was a beautiful day though. As I came back from the shops at around 13:45, there was a white moon in the east against a blue winter sky cross-crossed by vapour trails which just hung there like ghostly misshapen rainbows. So, bright, blue, clear and still.

Flight

It turns out that today, the moon rises before the sun sets. There’s 7:59 hrs of sun and 12:52 hrs of moon

3rd and 4th January 2017

Didn’t notice the weather, so simply experienced as dark winter days.

2nd January 2017

8:17 Cold, not quite light, sky clear, some frost. 0°C – forecast is +4°C/-3°C. Anyone going to work today would have to get up in the dark. Put heating on, but still cold – right hand uncomfortably so. Walking down the road at lunchtime, I stayed on the right hand pavement because the sun was on it. When I crossed the road, the pavement was icy and I had to walk in the road once I turned into a side road. At about 20:00 it was dark and still clear – a crescent moon to the north. The pavements were black and damp – beginning to sparkle but not yet frozen. A pool of water created by a goodness-knows-how-many-months-it’s been-there water leak was throwing up a curling mist – like the visible breath of the earth.If we were Romans, we’d turn it into a shrine and bathe in it.

1st January 2017

Dull and overcast, raining steadily by 12:30 and continued. A day for staying at home. Temp. 8°C/3°C.