Weather

If you’re doing pretty much anything outside then the weather is obviously a factor, but if you’re going out field recording or taking photos then the weather becomes more critical. And if the aim is to record the weather, then obviously it is completely critical. So I’m not sure why its taken me this long to realise it, but learning about weather patterns & behaviour is something worth investing some time & energy into.

Now I’m sure most people rely on TV News weather forecasts or online resources, but depending where you live these may range in how specific they are… Locally I really appreciate the rain radar here which provides an animated display of rainfall over a 3 day or 5 day period…. which lets me change my thinking from ‘Saturday is going to be rainy’ to ‘Saturdays going to be wet but late afternoon should be ok…’ (I put a red dot on my house – its going to rain about 2am tomorrow morning!)

Rain Radar

But slowly I decided I want to learn more, to understand whats happening and why. Having lived in Wellington for a decade or two now I know what to expect from different fronts eg a cold front from the South will be bitterly cold, while from the North (as per that chart above) will be blustery, warmer & likely less heavy rain. But come September I am going to spend 2 months on an island in the Seto Inland Sea, where I will be outdoors as much as possible, shooting photos, timelapse & video along with recording sound, and I do not know anything at all about the weather patterns there…. but I will need to!

I grew up on a farm, so weather dictated what my Dad did each day. And one of my most distinct childhood sonic memories is of my Dad walking down the hall after breakfast or lunch & tapping the barometer before he headed out to work. Now this shows how naive I was – I never really appreciated why he tapped it. In a vague sense maybe i thought it was a bit old & cantankerous & needed a prod to make sure its working. But a month or so ago I bought myself a barometer & finally realised why you tap it: its about change!

Barometer

The advantage of owning a barometer is that it provides very local feedback on the weather. So as per that barometer above, you can see it has a little rain icon on the low pressure side and sunny on the high pressure, but it isn’t like you sit & watch it change. And thats why you tap it: to see which way the pressure is moving. I tapped mine just before & sure enough the needle jumped 2 or 3 stops – the pressure is dropping due to that northerly front coming through tonight.

OK so thats about the limit of my knowledge for now – please feel free to share any valuable insights you have or resources…. I just went to the kindle shop and bought a few ebooks on weather for homework

Understand The Weather: Teach Yourself’ by Peter Innes

Weather Forecasting Made Simple’ by Stan Yorke

And just for fun (& really due to shooting timelapse)

The Cloud Collector’s Handbook by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

So who do you rely on for weather info when heading out recording or shooting?

3 Responses to Weather

  1. arnoud says:

    Great question and a similar memory here. My dad was not a farmer, but did also grow up on a farm. He still checks his barometer daily and I own one also (found on the street).
    I check it regularly just for the fun of seeing it moving and seeing ‘where the weather is going’.

    Regarding weather prediction. I rely on the http://buienradar.nl a Dutch weather prediction website and app, just like your example.
    It also has wind maps, which is really good and accurate.
    If I want to record at a remote location I can easily check, wind/sun/rain conditions and it’s mostly spot on.

    But I only use that for ‘within a few days’ sessions. On the short term I rely on my senses. Besides the obvious (looking at clouds and their speed or looking at leaves moving), I;ve discovered two little things over the years.

    -When it’s a sunny or warm day and a big splash or storm is in I can smell it. I don’t know what it is, but my nose picks something up, I know might sound strange. I can predict the first rain within 5 to 10 minutes. (of course this can easily be seen on my iPhone, but in remote locations reception is bad, even in the Netherlands).

    -Also you can feel the temperature drop (a few degrees) when the rain is a minute or so away (depending on wind speed and size of raincloud). This is also possible on colder days, but less easy to detect/feel.

    These are both really handy when you’re out in the field, with gear setup. Sometimes the weather can be unpredictable and they can save your precious gear.

    Curious to see what others have to say.

    • tim says:

      great comments, thanks Arnoud!
      I love the smell, when the first rain starts & you smell the earth

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrichor

      Petrichor (pron.: /ˈpɛtrɨkər/ or /ˈpɛtrɨkɔər/) is the scent of rain on dry earth. The word is constructed from Greek, petra, meaning stone + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. It is defined as “the distinctive scent which accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell”.[1]

      The term was coined in 1964 by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, for an article in the journal Nature.[2][3] In the article, the authors describe how the smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, a metabolic by-product of bacteria, which is emitted by wet soil, producing the distinctive scent; ozone may also be present if there is lightning.[4] In a follow-up paper, Bear and Thomas (1965) showed that the oil retards seed germination and early plant growth.[5] This would indicate that the plants exude the oil in order to safeguard the seeds from germination under duress.

      • arnoud says:

        wow there is a name for it! thanks!
        here in amsterdam it smells very different unfortunately, still pleasant on really hot days though, simply because it’s promise of relief from heat.

        cheers!

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