Wednesday 23 January 2013

Malingering – definitely not ... 1962/3 - some more weather information 2012 ... coral as a history book ... earth’s spin .... jet streams ... memories ...

Wild weather endured during 2012 ... the British winter drought was followed by the wettest April and June on record, when the jet stream got stuck in a holding pattern off the Atlantic ...

London circa 1300

It was a fitting end to a year in which the weather went crazy.  We have had near-record cold, near-record heat and in England the wettest calendar year on record ... yet in 1960 it rained every single day across a band of the UK from Cornwall to Fife.

Europe had had a fearsome cold snap in February 2012 killing 650 people and there were droughts and wildfires throughout the US, record high temperatures in Russia and Ukraine, record rains in India, snow in Johannesburg .... that last happened when I lived there in 1981 – and staggered everyone! 

Australia has been gripped in a severe heatwave with many wildfires ...
Hurricane Sandy sent a storm surge into New York ... reminding us that low lying areas are very prone to flooding from surges, storms or sea-level rises.

New York Harbour, circa 1770
Populations have grown up around transport ... and from antiquity settlements would develop around navigable rivers and the coasts – easy to access before the industrial revolution changed things and our world developed to be as today ...

Our unusual weather can be blamed on the two jet streams, high altitude narrow currents of air flowing from west to east.  In summer, the polar jet stream acts as a barrier (a few hundred kilometres / miles wide), separating its cool stormy weather from the more settled and warmer sub-tropical jet stream to the south. 

Showing (simplified) meanderings
of jet streams: polar and subtropical

Both these currents of air meander around the earth ‘moving the various climatic conditions with them’ – or on occasions getting stuck and not moving on – resulting in these extreme conditions.

It’s not clear why the jet streams are affected ... it may be the result of natural variations – together with the cycles of oceanic and atmospheric circulation in the Pacific known as El Nino and La Nina ...

Doggerland before the recent glaciation
delineation of Britain and Europe -before
the English Channel came into being
... but the melting of the Arctic sea ice may well have a profound impact on our northern hemisphere weather.  Remember the ice sheet came as far south as north London ...

Perhaps that explained the stoicism on show, a determination to get on with things ... rather than stay indoors – where it would not have been very warm without effective central heating or sufficient fires.

In the 1947 and 1962/63 winters there were announcements on the radio urging people not to venture out – but with the country reliant upon manufacturing and heavy industry (there wasn’t the option of working from home)- there was no alternative but to slip, slide and slither on until, mercifully, the thaw set in on March 6th 1963.

The Met Office believe that this recent batch of snow, which arrived 13th January, 2012, has occurred because of the tremendous upheaval in the stratosphere.

It is feared this could go on for weeks – the warm air will try to barge in from the Atlantic ... but there is a catch ... warm air meets freezing air and snow falls ... as has been happening. 

A 1490 recreation of a map from
Ptolemy's Geography showing the
'Oceanus Germanicus'
Northern Europe’s weather and into Russia is much colder ... so we need to usually count our blessings here in our Gulf Stream warmed little island.

I had not realised that the North Sea was originally called ‘The German Ocean’ ... 

The earth’s spin plays a critical role in defining the weather across our planet ... the spin moves oceans and gives us a global pattern of climate zones that can be seen from space ...

... the spin of the earth over the UK is unusually changeable and very hard to predict as the country sits within the boundary of the two jet streams – and those jet streams can, at times, meander erratically.

History of our earth from Coral ...

Coral, to the expert eye, delineates how old it is ... it creates a daily record as it builds its exoskeleton ... and so, as a tree does with its annual growth rings, the coral records how many days in a year there are ...

Rugose coral type - ancient

... a 400 million year old piece of coral is as good as a history book and shows us what life was like way back when ... it shows us that there were daily growth rings of 410 of shorter days ...

... a day would have lasted 21 hours not the 24 hours our day takes now ... and for that shorter duration period ... the earth needed to spin faster.

About 4.5 billion years ago a lot of debris was created from a planet colliding with the earth ... this is where our present day moon came from and which has ever since influenced our life on earth.

As the earth was created and due to the moon’s gravitational influence, huge tides of over 100 metres high crashed around the earth against the continents’ shorelines ... 

Ice floes forming in near stationary/
slow moving river
... but over time, as the moon drifted further away, the tides lessened, the days got shorter ... this is still happening in tiny increments.

Winter of 1962/63 and memories ...

Back in the 1960s I remember a period when we regularly holidayed with my grandparents outside St Ives, Cornwall ... and they used to have drinks and watch the 6.00 pm news on the Tonight  ... and I’d join them ...

Jaffa type Orange

... re the drink this is where I had a treat of Jaffa Orange Squash ... diluted with water ... for me it was delicious and completely different to the rather manufactured ordinary orange squash we had as a general rule.  For now I’ve given up trying to explain our squash drink ... it’s not juice is all I can say!

Tonight was a BBC tv current affairs programme and covered the news, the arts, sciences as well as topical matters, current affairs and included the weather.

European map showing isobars and fronts
The Tonight programme went out for eight years (1957 – 1965) ... and I used to be riveted to the screen when the weather forecasting was on .... I could see the isobars, learn more about the country I suppose ... etc etc – my interest in geography confirmed here ... 

... I used to love this programme: it was informal, yet so informative.  They used A3 sheets to show the weather - and it was in black & white!

It ‘must’ have been a precursor for the iconic BBC programme: “That Was The Week That Was” with David Frost ... when the satirical boom was in situ in the early 1960s ...

Atmospheric snowy picture -
the west country and Wales
are deluged in snow - whereas
we're welcoming the rain - til it
ices up tonight!
This is an eclectic post ... covering recent weather events, showing how coral has given us a history lesson in life at the start of lunar days ... then leading on to the BBC Two WinterWatch 1963 programme: The Big Freeze on Saturday 19 January ...

Tonight with Cliff Michelmore ...  see Wikipedia: Tonight (1957) tv series

That Was The Week That Was - see Wikipedia

The coral history I heard about on BBC Two's Orbit: Earth's Extraordinary Journey - shown Sunday 20 January - then found a New York Times Write up from 1982

There will be one last post with some weather funnies, some ‘odd’ floods, and some consequences of that weather ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


MorningAJ said...

You do come up with some subjects don't you? I remember the winter of 62-3 and the thaw might have set in during March but it didn't reach Yorkshire till April (my birthday - you tend to remember snow on your birthday when it isn't a regular thing!)

MunirGhiasuddin said...

How are you feeling these days? Please take care of yourself.
It is very very cold here too. 6 degrees F. was the temp in my car this morning.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This was quite the fascinating post. The weather over here across the pond hasn't been quite as inconsistent as it's been over there, but it's been interesting nonetheless. Please send some of that snow over this way :)

Manzanita said...

When I hear about extreme cold, I remember the book you suggested (but the name now escapes me) about the Polish group of soldiers that were sent to Siberia by the Russians. How they were tied together and walked behind huge trucks.

Thanks for the lesson on coral. I had no idea all that information was written in plain sight.
I lost a coral ring out in the fields at the ranch and a year later, I was following my grandson around and looked down and there was my ring. Oh joy. Last summer I was working in the yard in town and my coral ring was missing again. Not so lucky this time, but I still have hope it will pop up next summer.
Another education .....Thanks and much love

~Sia McKye~ said...

I enjoyed reading this Hilary. I'm one who loves odd quirks in nature and weather has always been fascinating to me--especially it's changes. We're seeing a lot of changes in the patterns last couple of decades. Makes one curious as to the new patterns emerging.

Hope all is well with you. Sending you hugs--just because.


Patsy said...

I wouldn't mind it snowing again. Ours came and went so quickly I didn't have time to take photos or build a snowman.

Keep warm if/when it comes, Hilary.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I also never read that the North Sea was originally known as the German Ocean. This is just one of many new morsels of information you've provided. Stay warm Hilary!

Luanne G. Smith said...

I'm afraid our weather will only continue to get more unpredictable and moody, given our current environmental conditions. I do fear for people who live along coastlines where hurricanes and tsunamis will probably increase in number and intensity. Fascinating post as always.

Deniz Bevan said...

What an interesting post, Hilary!
I can't believe your winter might go on for weeks more - we're used to that in Canada :-) but spring is supposed to arrive earlier in Europe!
Hope it's not too bad.
Over here, it's -38C with the wind, today...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Anne - I just like writing about things that 'amuse' me and educate me ... the thaw certainly didn't happen immediately - but that's interesting to read the thaw didn't reach Yorkshire until April - and yes .. that's why I know it's snowed a lot in January .. and usually on my birthday ... thanks for adding this note re the thaw ..

@ Munir - I am much better thank you .. it is pretty cold here - but it's wet in this part of England ..

@ Keith - I'm reading about snow in the States .. so you could find some a bit more locally!

@ Manzanita .. I let you know on your blog about The Way Back .. this is the film .. but details on the book is there too ..

It was ancient coral ... but I was fascinated by that bit of info ...

Your ring story .. oh dear I hope the 2nd loss comes back to light for you ... thanks for your comment ..

@ Sia - yes me too ... the quirks are fun aren't they

Do you think we'll find new patterns - interesting to see what happens in the future ...

Hugs back too!

@ Patsy .. where are you?! We'd better prepare for the big thaw I think ... and more rain ..

@ Julie - I too didn't know that the North Sea was originally called the German Ocean ..

@ Luanne - I think I agree - just given the earth as it always is ...

Living in low lying area could be very frightening (as we know from recent footage of disasters)..

Thanks everyone ... love your interaction here ... look after yourselves ... in the cold or the heat down under .. cheers Hilary

jabblog said...

Another lovely potpourri of information, Hilary - right up my street:-)

Arlee Bird said...

Another load of fascinating information. I guess many will attribute the weather to global warming. I don't really know, but I'm more apt to think it has to do with cycles of the Earth, Sun, and solar system. We can adapt as best we can, but I don't know that we can do much to change the weather.

Wrote By Rote

A Lady's Life said...

Weather is indeed on every ones lists these days. lol
Ours went back to frost and rain.
So its mild and dull outside.
We don't mind a bit of sunshine lol
Hope you are feeling better and being careful of drafts.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Learned a lot today! German Ocean? Had no idea.

Anonymous said...

Yes Hilary we have had some crazy weather here, that heatwave in the 70s and the awful winter in 1963.
It's always a pleasure reading posts from you , Thanks.


Sara said...

There was so much information in this post, I don't where to begin. I'll start with this line: "I had not realised that the North Sea was originally called ‘The German Ocean’." That's a new on me. I had no idea. It would make a great trivia question.

I've been hearing about the weather in London from my daughter. She said it was "slip-sliding" weather:~)

The story about the coral was so cool. I didn't know about that either.

You always make learning new things fun, Hilary. I hope you're feeling better.

Jo said...

When I was a youngster I was interviewed by Fife Robertson for the Tonight show. TWTW remains in my mind as a good comedy show. I also used to love Magic Roundabout. Called one of my Alsatians Zebedee.

I had forgotten about the German Ocean, when did it change I wonder. We recently watched The Great British Countryside series. Fascinating information as on your blog Hilary.

Chatty Crone said...

This was an interesting post. The weather here is a lot different then over there. It's interestingly different this year. I enjoyed learning. Sandie

Denise Covey said...

England sounds just the opposite to Australia at the moment. Although, good news, we got rain last night so cooler weather may be on the way, or maybe not.

Thanks Hilary. And do take care over there!


Betsy Brock said...

Oh, that is so interesting! I'm married to a man that is fascinated by the weather. You aren't the only one having strange weather, though. We were 65 F last week and -2 F today. haha.

Morgan said...

I find this fascinating! I do... being a "weather girl" was on my list of things to be when I grew up, LOL.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I LOVED "That Was the Week That Was" or "TW3", as reports sometimes called it. It was a clever savvy program, and I hated that it didn't last longer.

As for the cold snowy weather you're having, I understand all the reasons you've given for it, but personally, I think somebody ticked off Old Man Winter.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - thankfully it seems like we'll have relief next week - another mix of wet from the Atlantic will hit the cold air from Siberia over the weekend .. and then the thaw should set it. Thanks very much .. I'd rather be here .. - 38C is not in my brain!!!

@ Janice - I know your dogs are enjoying it!

@ Lee - as you say we don't understand weather .. though at least we do get some warnings - which is a blessing (to a point)

@ A Lady's Life - we might get a bit of sunshine today .. the gloom is miserable.

@ Alex - yes that German Ocean ..

@ Yvonne - I'd forgotten about the heatwave in the 70s .. I just remember it being cold in winter, and usually hot in summer - so different now ..

@ Sara - the trivia question had occurred to me too .. yes London has been hit .. that's quite unusual -

I was pleased I caught the snippet about the coral and the earth's spin .. and those faster days! I'd quite like the time to slow up a little!!!

Thanks - I'm much better now ..

@ Jo - I used to enjoy Fife Robertson too ... TWTWTW was excellent wasn't it .. I never got into Magic Roundabout perhaps because we didn't have tv for ages.

No idea about the name change for the Germany Ocean .. I'll check one other detail when I see some friends in a fortnight or so .. that Countryside programme too does have interesting info - just not so keen on the presenters!

@ Sandie - many thanks .. it seems we're all having different weather conditions .. I'd quite like some normality though!!

@ Denise - that's great you got some rain last night - must be a relief all round .. We don't have snow or ice now as I'm on the coast .. and I do my best to look after me!!

@ Betsy - an engineer by any chance? - they love measuring and recording things!! It does seem as though the weather is going to surprise us - I saw your snowy picture too .... lovely shot.

@ Morgan - I might very well have had that thought in the back of my mind .. though it was men in the job then ...

@ Susan - wasn't That Was the Week That Was brilliant and you describe it perfectly .. a clever savvy programme and I so enjoy watching clips from it now - when they get shown.

Again - you're probably right - Old Man Winter has the Grumpy Grumbles ... I hope he cheers up soon!!!

Thanks everyone ... it's lovely you're still enamoured with these weather posts ... one last one coming up - then that drink!!

Cheers and enjoy the weather whatever the weather ... Hilary

Lynn said...

Now I want to try that squash drink! :) I am intrigued. I love the image of you sitting with your grandparents watching that program.

Tina said...

Wow, a lot of info packed into one delicious packet! I love how you add your graphics in different positions on the page, really visually pleasing. I'm very interested in history as I've shared before, so getting a glimpse of the 60s through your eyes was a treat.

I'm ambivalent about weather forecasting. I know they've gotten better as technology improves, but it's still not an exact science. I guess my attitude can be summed up in: there aren't many jobs where you get to be so wrong so many times and still keep your job.

The coral thing is fascinating. I've always wanted to snorkel a coral reef, and I had no idea you could "tell time" from them.

I ALWAYS learn something new here, which is why it's one of my top blogs to visit.

I do apologize for not coming by more regularly. We are in full swing prepping for the sign ups which begin Wednesday, so I've had very little visiting time. I do SO MUCH appreciate it you always visiting me and leaving such thoughtful and encouraging comments.

You're absolutely right that they all managed fine when I was on bed rest. Another reason for my extreme irritation about how the situation has deteriorated. BUT I'M WELL! Of course I still have asthma, but am currently functioning at about 95% my usual capacity. YEAH!

Gotta run. Gotta get ready to teach that class...
Hugs and gratitude,
Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Rosalind Adam said...

It's confusing the way the scientists blame the Gulf Stream, global warming etc for these temperature extremes and then go on to give examples of extreme weather from history. I suspect that meteorology is not yet a precise science! Besides, they've forecast a thaw for Sunday and a warmer spell. Can't wait!

Kittie Howard said...

So much interesting information. I also had no idea about the German Ocean...and so much more. We had a huge blizzard in 1996 in Northern Virginia. Hub eventually skied to work as there was so much snow but life had to go on. More to today, I'm concerned about that Polar Cap melting.

Patricia said...

What an interesting post and I did learn lots of new things I was not aware of before. I used to think our weather here was quite similar to UK weather and we are generally very influenced by the Jet Streams.

The weather service here just announced that they do not think we will have a big snow this year, though it did snow for about 2 hours on Christmas morning- was gone by noon. We are having tremendous amounts of fog and we sent a record in November and December for rain - even here.

Our kids are all required to learn how to swim in school, about trees, and about Puget Sound. We are gearing up for the next big HIGH TIDE...the last nearly flooded our whole downtown area - though I think the dykes are better engineered this year.

I understand that the EAST coast is freezing cold and parts of the Midwest right now. We have daffodils coming up and the neighbors early rhodies and Camilla have bloomed already.

We talk about the weather a great deal here - folks are hoping for a real summer, and I am hoping we will not have a drought and over 100'F days. 1983 was an incredible summer of heat...

Glad you are feeling better and on the mend.
I am wondering if you are not going to blog any more in something your said about one last post on the weather?

Anonymous said...

Dearest friend, This is indeed q keeper of fascinating information that affects all of us on planet earth in one way or another. Thanks for taking the time to give this to us (that I'm going to print out for my own personal reference). ((( ))) from me and Jen as we huddle in our electrically heated duplex, safe from the 29 F degree weather outside with wind chill. BRR. But how grateful we are for the heat (dont want the Aussie version, thank you!) Hope you're well now. We're trying to stay that way with the awful flu and other viruses floating around.

Friko said...

Roaming far afield, from weather to TV programmes. Interesting snippets gleaned here and there and presented in your inimitable way, a butterfly touching down lightly for the delectation of others.

Seriously though, I believe in climate change; do you?

Shannon Lawrence said...

As one of the people involved in the massive U.S. wildfires, I'm terrified for this summer if we don't get some snow. Unfortunately, it's quite balmy and beautiful right now, but I can hope for some major snow before summer. I hope next year is better for everyone weather-wise. It was rough for a lot of people.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - decent squash diluted with water is delicious - well I think it is and don't often drink fizzy drinks. It is a good memory to have of one's grandparents when they were well and life was being enjoyed to the full .. the garden, the beach and the house ..

@ Tina - my pictures theoretically tie in and represent something I'm talking about - sort of brings it to life a little more .. as you've discovered - thank you!!

Weather forecasting .. I think our varies so much and affects so much of our lives on a daily basis - we the Brits are great on the topic of the weather (always!) ....

The coral snippet fascinated me ..

No worries re visiting - you're always there - and I just wish you stay as well as you are ... and I know you're so busy with the Challenge coming - which I'm looking forward to ...

Up to 95% capacity - that's such good news - look after yourself ..

@ Ros - the information we get via the tv or radio, and papers isn't easily digestible and always takes different view points ... so I agree weather is not a a precise science ... and after the next dollop of white today/tomorrow - the big thaw sets in ..

@ Kittie - I love finding these facts out .. and your hubby going to work on skis - that's interesting ... some intrepid people have done that here on occasions ... the Polar Cap does seem to be melting very fast .. and that will affect our climate a great deal.

@ Patricia - I hadn't thought about Vancouver/Seattle area's weather being similar to ours ... I see you have rain though.

Interesting that the school children were taught about the tidal reaches ... I wonder if that teaching was like that 50/60/70 years ago ...

I realised that North America has been having strange weather ... I'd like a comfortable, warm summer - a typical English summer's day - well a few months of them ... I should be so lucky!!

Nope - not going anywhere .. just a last weather post coming up - no chance of me giving up ...

@ Ann - there's a lot of information in these posts - but all the bloggers in Britain after the War, who visit here, have brought up many other memories ..

It's when the electrics go - that's the worry?! That was one of the obvious things from the New York troubles with Hurricane Sandy ...

Do look after yourselves .. 29 F is fairly cold! and that wind chill does not help ...

Queensland in north Australia has just had one metre of rain .. but southern Aus is still 'frying' ...

Thankfully I'm feeling much better - but it's not pleasant being ill in any way .. so hope you can avoid all flu and colds ..

@ Friko - information kept appearing .. while the process of getting the post up doesn't feel like a butterfly lightly getting the words out - I can see that the description is a good one of the way I write.

Yes the climate has always changed, and this will be no different .. though how much we've affect it is another matter, and can we do anything about with the largest nations and areas on the planet about to have their own industrial revolution ... I doubt. That's partly why I reminded us that the last ice cap came down as far as London ... it's some years away - but how far is another matter ... the Polar Cap melt is food for thought ...

@ Shannon - wildfire must be so frightening - I can understand your worries and I hope that snow comes.

The weather is changing .. and like you I hope we all can have a few years with little weather interruption - but sadly I doubt it ..

Great thoughts everyone - fascinating to read about weather - wherever - and to read about your thoughts on how we cope and what we're experiencing .. thank you for interacting ... cheers Hilary

Laura Eno said...

I've never had orange squash, despite several brief trips into England. I'll have to amend that someday!
Coral showing the days were shorter and the earth spun are a fountain of information, Hilary! Maybe we'll somehow stretch our days to 26 hours. Wouldn't that be nice! :)
Please stay warm!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

We're in a deep freeze here as well. The weather has come with all sorts of nasty illnesses, including a stomach virus...which Mom and I both contracted.

I hope the "Malingering not" means you're on the mend.

Sherry Ellis said...

I didn't know the North Sea was once called the German Sea, either. Interesting information!

Unknown said...

Your posts are always so informative. I love how you go from weather to coral to orange drink.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Laura - we have lemon squash, lime squash .. while orange can be a bit 'false' .. that's why I used to love Jaffa Squash ... my grandparents must have had gin and orange - now I think about it!

I wish I could stretch my day to 26 hours or even longer! - but the coral information was very interesting to find out about ..

I am warm thankfully ..

@ Susan - I heard you were having a lot of snow .. and nasty illnesses - yes perhaps that's what I had - gastric virus .. I'm just about of the woods now - 4 weeks later .. the complete recovery has taken two weeks .. so I do hope you recover more quickly - especially your mother ..

@ Sherry - the German Sea .. was another interesting fact/find ..

@ Clarissa - many thanks .. moving along is me just trying to make the posts interesting for everyone .. and now you've broken it down for me ... made me realise what I'm doing .. weather to coral to orange squash ..

Cheers and it's so lovely to see you all commenting - Hilary

Davina said...

Hi Hilary.

This was a very informative post. I enjoy astronomy and reading about the earth, so I found the bits about the jet streams and her rotation, fascinating.

But especially, I enjoyed reading about coral as a history book. I was not aware of that. It's interesting to imagine what life was like back then. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Davina .. saw your comment, then forgot to come by and reply: sorry

Delighted you enjoyed the various parts of the post - the jet streams, rotation and the coral - well that I found amazing.

I don't know much about astronomy .. but I do love the learning aspect .. it'd be good to sit down and have a chat sometime ...

Cheers Hilary

Coral Wild said...

hello Hilary
I'm just catching up on my blog reading - I've loved all your posts on European winters - they make me appreciate the sticky heat we are getting here, just that bit more!

I well remember my very first winter in Britain - 77/78, where Bristol and the south-west had the heaviest snow falls in 18 years. It was very exciting for a sub-tropical kid like me - I got rolled in the snow a lot by fellow students!

I'm also glad to hear that you are/have recovered from your bugs - I can empathise - I've had a nasty gastro bug for the last 5 days - hope to be over it before I start a new safari on Monday....

Take care

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. there's a lot of information on our 1962/3 winter .. but I was glad to leave SA in 1992 as I'd had too much of the hot - now I'd love to be back!!

Having not experienced snow before .. I can imagine the students enjoying adding to your views of the snow!!

I sincerely hope you'll get over your bug .. it's taken me a month to completely thrown mine off ..

Enjoy that safari .. I'd love to be with you!

Cheers Hilary