I wonder when people first began forecasting the weather. When did it actually become a science with some predictability? I learned that “It was not until the invention of the electric telegraph in 1835 that the modern age of weather forecasting began.” It became more of a science through the research of two men in the Royal British Navy, Sir Francis Beaufort and Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy. As is typical with any new discovery, these men were initially ridiculed in the press until their work gained scientific credence. Their findings are the basis for today’s weather forecasting knowledge.
I imagine that indigenous cultures have always been and continue to be in touch with this phenomena. They lived and live their lives in close connection to the earth, to the land from which they’ve risen. They have an understanding of this planet and its intrinsic relationship within the entirety of the cosmos. They certainly related to the moon and its cycles. While there may have been superstition around extreme weather patterns–thunder and lightning storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters–they had a sense of their place in the earth’s unfolding story as told through nature’s cycles and rhythms. I can only imagine what that would be like, to have such a deep connection.
Every man I’ve ever dated understood weather-forecasting and the terminology associated with it. They described what it meant if a storm rolled in from any of the four directions. Each one of them explained this all with great seriousness and in detail…”This storm is coming from a westerly direction. You see, at different latitudes, the earth has conveyor belts of air which affect weather like the westerlies and the trade winds.” At which point, my eyes would glaze over because, let’s face it, I’m not a weathergirl in that sense of the word. “That storm was unlike the one that is forecast for today”…a man at the video store said “it’s coming–see those clouds piling up–the storm is coming from the south.”
Just tell me if we’re expecting rain or snow, how many inches, high winds or sun, thunderstorms, temperature extremes–How many degrees Fahrenheit? The rest is beyond my comprehension. That said, I look daily at the ten day forecast. I’ve done this over the past ten years at least, maybe twenty since I first moved to the mountains. In San Francisco, my home for nearly fifty years, the weather was predictably foggy where I lived. Although, of course, I can’t explain why fog forms. The rare sunny day was a surprise, a pleasing one. Anything above 80 degrees entitled every San Franciscan to go to the beach!
Anyway, our meteorologists have the ability to forecast when a storm is coming, how big of a storm (how many inches of snow or rain), the temperatures–freezing or moderate, how long the storm is going to last, etc. When I first moved to Mt. Shasta, CA, I often heard the refrain: The mountain makes its own weather.
In other words, regardless of the forecast, the mountain has its own climate. They also say, If you want to know what the weather is, go outside.
Things are changing though–climate change is real–are we comprehending that now? Do we see how the way that we use the earth, is affecting some of these changes dramatically? We are in summer where I live in the mountains of northern California. We are noting that it is fire season. A time of wild fires and uncertainty, high risk. We have had many drought years. This, I can understand without elaboration. I’m in the middle of it.
It’s not too hard to see that we don’t want to go in the direction of the choices that we’ve made heretofore in regards to climate change. What, my dear reader, are you and I going to differently? When do we begin
to be the change that we want to see?