The challenge is to produce an advance predictive weather indicator of what the weather is likely to be some 6 months ahead, or in country parlance, two seasons at 90% accuracy.
Our forefathers had no technology and they managed to survive, so why cannot I try to achieve what they achieved?
Where do I start; where do I go to find the data; how do I collate the data; how reliable is the data I collect: how do I interpret the data and finally in what form do I display this information?
I started with some real basics over a period of some 8 years; with my wife I visited every weekly market in the counties of Kent, East Sussex and adjacent Surrey, where I sought out the stereo-typed all ‘country-lad’ aged 70 plus, old hat, stick of some description, weather beaten and sun tanned, with obvious country knowledge.
Using my knowledge gained earlier in the police of how to talk to anyone and with the ability to take notes and a good memory, I approached each interviewee and offered a free pint, in return for about an hour’s chat on what he tell me about country lore, and weather. At the conclusion his efforts were rewarded with a further pint and a pie or sandwich. I also visited the County shows and other such meets to add to my knowledge. I must have interviewed some 1000 such interviewees and from these interviews formed the basis of the knowledge I now have.
I then extended the research to County record offices, libraries, Cathedral archives, National Archives, diocesan and parochial records and any such premises where such data could be found.
Finally I visited old book shops, book fairs, boot sales to find old books with the information I sought.
So with literally reams of long-hand written notes, this being before the age of the computer, I sat down to try to catalogue what I had. At this stage technology in the form of computers and Windows 3-1 (Bill Gates heard my cry) arrived on the scene and was my salvation. I was able to build databases, spread sheets and word documents without restriction.
With all the data now safely collated I now had to work out how to display such data in a ready readable interesting form, and decided in two separate, but complimentary formats.
The first would be a spreadsheet format, one page for each month, using columns for each subject and at the end, what started as jig-saw of numerous un-related pieces of information and data, became at the end, an easily read comprehensive detail of the month with the basic information of the month displayed.
The second would be in a word document portrait format starting with the moon phases dates times and indicative weather also for a month at a time. Then any Days of Prediction, Quarter days, Super- moons and any Lunar or Solar events plus equinoxes. As the page filled the next set of entries would be any dates of note with the date of such an event and its relevance to the month.
Finally on this format would be saws/sayings or data that came from the earlier interviews and researched, pertinent to that month and any events in that month that affected dates at a later time of the year.
During the research I also discovered Quarter Days, Days of Prediction, Saints days, Holy days, Buchan cold and warm periods, Met Office stormy and quiet periods, other days not being Saints days but important days nonetheless.
I also discovered how important the phases of the moon are to this earth and our weather, and that when the moon is nearest the earth it called a perigee; when furthest from the earth it is called an apogee. I discovered, that each by chance or design –since the argument still rages – when a full moon and a perigee are within 24 hours of each, the preponderance for major natural disaster (earthquake, volcanic eruption, tsunami, severe flooding etc) increases 100%. There is also the fact that natural accidents (ship collisions, air crashes et al) are also raised by the same percentage. For me this is important data, if only for the danger warnings that such data affords.
As an example of this phenomenon, the very recent Jubilee river Thames procession occurred the same day as a perigee, the same day as a full moon and on a flood tide. Furthermore, after the recent rains the river Thames was running higher, but more importantly, there was an easterly wind from the North Sea blowing directly into the mouth of the river Thames One thousand boats on choppy water with a flood tide and an easterly wind, a true recipe for disaster. There was fortunately an ameliorating procedure that was put in place. The Thames barrier was raised and the water was calmed; coincidence or not?
In the mid 1800’s here was a Scottish meteorologist named Alexander Buchan, who using Edinburgh as his base, concluded that over the year there were certain periods that were colder or warmer than the norm for that time of the year. These he called Buchan warm and cool periods, and whilst based on Edinburgh, I find them applicable to here in the SE and quite accurate. An example is that 29th June to 4th July is a Buchan cold period, which is why it invariably rains at Wimbledon during the tennis.
I then found the most illuminating books by Barry & Perry, Chandler & Gregory and HH Lamb - all of which produce near identical results as I, concerning the important weather patterns in the year, which tends to corroborate my methodology (See Literature List).
There are also Met Office quiet and stormy periods, dates when it is proven to be either stormier or quieter than other such times. These also, with Buchan occupy a column on the spreadsheet, and a notation on the word format.