General Situation Posted on June 11, 2020

We used to look at weather forecasts as vague indications of what to expect. If there was a great black low over Ireland rain might happen: with wind in the northeast it might not. The General Situation map with isobars was probably the best guide, though it didn’t help much in a Test Match.

Now the app Dark Sky knows where you are and will tell you ‘Rain starting in 3 minutes, ending 17 minutes later.’ You can set your stopwatch, sit at the window and say it’s rubbish: it was six minutes and 15 minutes. But it was your weather, the rattling on your leaves. What’s more the app asks you what you’re seeing and then builds it into its forecast for wherever your cloud is heading next.

Precision like this makes it feel even worse when the rain you are longing for doesn’t happen. Today its confident forecast was for ‘light rain all day.’ ‘Light’ has meant ‘just perceptible’. A change from all day hot sunshine, certainly. But it will take a lot more to put any green into the tawny hide of Kensington Gardens.

I shouldn’t be surprised. In 1979 I wrote in my Principles of Gardening “It never rains when you want, but it rains in the end.” Pretty resigned for a novice gardener who had only been at it for eight years, but at least it showed my grasp of the law of averages.

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