Weather watching

2018-10-15 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

You know those little ritualistic domestic arguments that end up being a standing joke between you? At home, ours relates to weather forecasts and the domestic politics of them.

I’m a bit of a weather obsessive. I love observing it and feeling it. I yearn for drama in it and dread those predictable, benign days where nothing moves.

Give me gales, give me driving rain and sudden thunder. Bring on the icy cold, the mist and the crack and fizzle of lightning. The only stillness I long for, is the calm in the eye of a storm of Himalayan proportions.

And I really do have exhilarating wish-fulfilment dreams about chasing twisters.

Anyhow, each morning before he leaves for work, the ritual is roughly this:

Him: Can I go by bike today?

Her: Let me check the weather apps. (Consults phone with a frown of deep concentration. She hates him going by bike. She rather likes him. Bikes equal danger in her world.) Ummmm, okay. Accuweather says it could rain at 6 pm, so you may be fine … Oh dear, but says the rain will start at 4 pm, so you’d better take the car. (She’s secretly relieved.)

Him: Oh well, they’re always wrong anyway, so I’ll just go by bike. I’ll dodge the raindrops if they come, which they won’t.

Her: They’re more often right than wrong.

Him: (Grumble, mutter, inaudible protests … fetches helmet.)

Her: Well, why didn’t you just say you want to go by bike regardless? (Grumble, mutter, inaudible protests …)

It’s the way we roll.

But I’m starting to think he has a point.

Take Tuesday, for instance. The weather oracles gave no hint of rain when I consulted them. In fact, at 3.41 pm, the updated forecast from the Durban weather office sent via e-mail, still insisted the weather was “partly cloudy in the morning otherwise clear skies”. Clear as in no clouds.

However, a short while after 4 pm, I noticed a bit of a thunderhead building. It was not spectacular in its looming. It eased out from the west, mushrooming gently from over World’s View as summer storm clouds often do. It was clear skies no more.

At 4.28 pm, I received an SMS alert from the South African Weather Services saying that severe thunderstorms had been observed and forecast over parts of uMgungundlovu (that’s us!) with possible heavy downpours and hail.

Sadly, nothing materialised, but driving home I noticed how pretty the unthreatening cloud really was, with a frilly, undulating edge and I was happy to have at least seen it to admire it.

It also provided a wonderful cooling breeze which was handy as my air con needs a re-gas.

But as I tackled the traffic home, I wondered where this cloud had come from?

And why didn’t forecasters know about its possibility earlier?

I imagined it could be explained away by something like the butterfly effect which I understand to mean that one small discrepancy in the factors on which the forecast is based, can compound and grow to make it abysmally wrong.

We do know that climate change is making it harder for forecasters to make accurate long-range predictions because their models for past weather predictions are no longer the same.

I somehow feel obliged to say that it’s a worrying thought that climate change is also making it more likely that extreme weather could be in the pipeline.

Nevertheless, my guilty secret is that I’m secretly thrilled.

I will always do what I can to fight global warming, like not eating meat, generally shrinking my carbon footprint where possible, and swearing at U.S. President Donald Trump every time his smug mug appears on CNN.

But, I confess I will be hoping for glorious, exhilarating inclemency with it at the same time. Fingers crossed, hey.

After all, every cloud must have a silver lining.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.