Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

Winter Ready?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

I see the Department of Defence are copying me.

More seriously, the Office of Emergency Planning have put together a website about being ready for and able to handle winter weather, and in light of the winters we’ve had the last two years, I can’t see this as a bad thing. They cover a good few topics, although the information is provided, for some unknown reason, as PDF files – even the weather forecast!

I can’t see it being a hotspot of new or up-to-date information, to be honest, but it’s not a bad one to start some basic winter preparations.

Solar Minimum – Cold Winters to Come?

Monday, October 24th, 2011

There’s a report on Space Daily back in June that I’ve only just come across. It’s about a major drop in solar activity predicted between now and 2022 – essentially, a lack of sunspots. There haven’t been many sunspots for some time now, and even though there are a few there at the moment, there’s nothing like the number that there should be at this point in the Sun’s cycle.

Low solar activity has been connected with hard winters in history – the Maunder and Dalton minima being the notable ones. There’s some speculation as to what effects this could have on Popsci: Coming Solar Minimum Could Chill the Earth, New Forecast Predicts. Everyone’s being very careful to point out that this wouldn’t be much of a counter to human effects on climate, but something it could do is open up possibilities of colder winters, or spots of deeper cold within winters that hew close to climatic averages otherwise.

One to keep an eye on, over the next decade or so.

Winter 2011-2012

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I’m sitting here looking out at blustery autumn winds, in advance of the first of the season’s storms – the remnant of ex-Hurricane Katia, which is due to sweep by north-western Ireland on Sunday night and into Monday. Current indications are that it won’t impact all that much for people further south, but Donegal and Mayo are in for something fairly impressive. That could all change over the next 36 hours, though.

In the meantime, looking forward to winter, there are several predictions about, and all of them seem to be for a cold winter and possibly an early onset. There are news stories being circulated about snow as early as October, although I’ll believe that when I see it.

The forecasts from the people I’d consider more reliable are not out yet, and won’t be until October. However, if you’re a believer in old-fashioned weather signs, here are two: the crops of berries this year (particularly on hawthorns) have been very, very heavy, and migratory birds have started to move earlier than usual. Both of these are traditionally held to be signs of a tough winter to follow. Now, I’m not convinced – I think that this behaviour has a lot more to do with weather during the spring and summer of this year than anything coming down the line. But the last two hard winters have also been preceded by lots of berries, haws, and so on.

It’s certainly worth getting hold of winter tyres, making sure you have access to a snow shovel, and checking out what kind of situation your water pipes are in. We’ve discovered that ours are considerably closer to the surface than we expected, so that’s going to have to be dug up and reburied deeper before winter sets in properly.

My next point of interest, really, is the first frost, because that’ll be the point at which I need to start changing the garden over to a winter mode. I’m guessing, now, that that will be in mid-October, and we’ll see how accurate my prediction is.

Preparing for Winter: House Checklist

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Bob Vila has provided an excellent bi-annual checklist to be carried out on housing in autumn and spring. It deals more with detached housing than semi-detached or terraced housing, but it’s a good basis to develop your own checklist from. It’s also one that’s worth looking at even if you’re renting, as you may need to let your landlord know in advance of potential problems.

UK Met Office Winter Predictions 2007-2008

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

The official Met Office Winter Prediction is out, and it largely agrees with their earlier NAO-based forecast – milder than average, but colder than last year.

Otherwise, looking at the current local weather forecasts, I’m thinking we might see a first frost in Dublin in early November; possibly around the 3rd to the 6th. The coldest we’ve had according my thermometer in the back yard is 6.7°C – it’s usually about 2-3 degrees higher than the airport measurement.

Cold Medicines Not Effective

Monday, October 1st, 2007

According to a post of the New York Times’ Well Blog, cold medicines are often not effective, and might do more harm than good. Seeing as early winter is when a lot of people come down with colds – and again when the weather starts to warm up, I figured I’d give this some attention.

Here are two key quotes:

“The American College of Chest Physicians last year issued new guidelines for treating coughs, and concluded that many popular medications simply don’t quiet coughs caused by the common cold. In particular, the group concluded that the drug guaifenesin — an expectorant found in such popular brands as Robitussin and Mucinex — doesn’t calm coughs due to colds.”

and:

“Warm humid air, honey, and yes, chicken soup work as well as anything.”

I’m a bit bemused by that, I have to say; I’ve always been pretty sure that the cough medicines were helping me. Maybe it’s just the placebo effect.

Historical Winters

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Professor Trevor Harley has compiled an excellent set of historical data on extreme weather events, including month by month accounts. We’re interested in October, November, December, January and February.

He also has a page on when the first frosts can be expected, concluding an average of the 5th of October. In cities, I suspect that’s a bit later; we’ve rarely seen frost in Dublin in the last few years until November.

Winter Weather Reviews

Monday, September 24th, 2007

There’s a fascinating set of pages on the BBC site: The Year So Far. It details averages and means in temperature, rainfall, etc, and how the current year is behaving. Well worth keeping an eye on, I think.

Also from the BBC is a page concerning that most typical of winter weather in these islands: Rain, Drizzle & Fog.

Finally, since I read it with great pleasure a few years ago, I thought I’d provide a link to Eddie Graham’s A Dublin Weather Diary. It’s probably of interest to meteorology geeks more than anyone else, but it details things like the usual dates of the first air frost, the coldest days of the year, and other hard to find information. It was published in 2000, so it probably won’t be completely accurate for the warmer, wetter weather we’ve had since, but it provides a good context.

Weather Forecasts

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Metcheck, my favourite weather-prediction site, have just put up their winter coverage pages. Of particular interest are the FrostRisk and SnowRisk pages, and their RainRisk page is up year-round.

Metcheck’s service is pretty accurate, especially for the next three to four days, and I keep their “Today” forecast open in a browser tab pretty much all the time.

Winter Food

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Various winter food sites today:

The UK Food Standards Agency have recommendations for food in winter.
A retrospective on a radio series broadcast by the Irish national channel, RTÉ: Winter Food.

And Nigel Slater, writing in the Observer, gives us some fine winter recipes.