Archives for posts with tag: Weather

When you live in the west of Ireland, it’s easy to get down about the weather. This is especially true if you’re not from here and you’re used to a slightly kinder climate. It can be wet, windy and cool, all at the same time. It probably pours, rains, drizzles, mizzles or spots at some point during the day, 300 days a year.

I’ve taken a very crude measure of the weather in Galway every day over the past 10 years. If it so much as rains one drop, I put ‘Wet’ in my diary for that day. I daren’t go back over a sample 12 months and count the number of Wets, which is why 300 is an intuitive guess rather than evidence-based fact.

The amount of times I’ve been on the phone to my Mother, a mere 300 miles away in the south of England and it’s been tipping down here and glorious there…

Anyway, I know I’ve been looking at this wrong. I’m not trying to underplay the seriousness of SAD syndrome, but I know I’ve been looking at it wrong.

Weather is wallpaper. It’s simply there, in the background. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes you don’t. You get on with things regardless.

There are many benefits to a temperate climate, after all. And anything dry, or warm, becomes a bonus. Then, the background comes to the foreground, is more noticeable, and is enjoyed for that.

I think that’s what people from here have been doing all along…

They’re a dour, ass-covering, bet-hedging lot, those weather folk, aren’t they? A bit like astrologers or tarot card readers?

Hiding behind non-active verbs like might, could and so on, they’re forever on the fence, at least to my mind. But that’s not why I write this post.

Why do they always describe the weather as ‘partly cloudy’? What’s wrong with them saying ‘partly sunny’? If it’s partly cloudy, the corollary of that must be that it’s also partly sunny. It’s the same thing isn’t it, only one is markedly more downbeat than the other?

Partly sunny is like ‘glass half full’, full of optimism, promise and possibility. Partly cloudy is your glass half empty, negative, pessimistic, defeatist.

That’s what I mean about weather forecasters being dour. They’ve allowed their language to limit our expectations and our moods.

On a Monday evening, if I’m in my hometown, I like to play some 5-a-side footie with my fellow middle-aged men, sans lycra of course.

Recently, I went out for a game. I had a sore calf – again – so I didn’t want to let the lads down and decided I’d play in goal. It was unseasonably cold, snowing and sleeting in fact, and I had a very thin, porous set of gloves on. They got wet very early on, and so did my hands.

An hour later, the pain was unrelenting. I can’t remember having colder hands. So much so that I went grey and felt nauseous. I made it home, but my fingers were so cold they felt solid. I had to gradually warm them up, in agony, for about half an hour before I realised I was, in fact, not going to have a heart attack, stroke, or die.

I probably wasn’t that close to having frostbite, and my fingers were 90% fine the next day. I can’t begin to imagine, however, what it must be like to be genuinely very cold indeed for a long period of time. I think the body and organs must shut down and you must literally want to crawl into a ball and die.

I also know now why scaling Everest or Arctic trekking isn’t on my bucket list. Sawing off frost-bitten fingers is not on my top-1000 list of things I’d like to do.

I always thought that SAD syndrome – where you’re down in winter and up in summer – was related to dark, short days in the beginning and the end of the year for us northern hemisphere folk.

I think for me it’s more a nagging, low-level frustration than sadness. As I write this we’re emerging from my ninth consecutive winter in the west of Ireland. It’s been a very damp, windy, mild winter. This morning – April – it snowed. Anyone who knows about global warming will tell you that it doesn’t necessarily manifest in simply a warmer climate. It also increases the extremes of weather.

It rains a lot in the west of Ireland. While we’ve had our share of storms this last winter, you might be surprised to know that in terms of annual rainfall the figure here is half of the Seattle figure. We tend to get what the locals call ‘soft’ rain; drizzly, filmy, misty rain, falling out of predominantly light grey skies. In fact, it probably rains at some point during the day – perhaps some days a couple of drops, other days perhaps a dozen quick showers – 300 days of the year.

It never absolutely clatters down and then clears up, like in Florida during certain seasons. Precipitation here is an almost constant, gentle friend, with a slight smirk on its face. The kind of smirk you want to wipe away.