Pondering weather and old folks tales…


Pondering the Weather….
We check the tanks regularly for dropping water levels, vegies garden need watering, dams are drying up and creeks stop flowing, and we watch as the whole country side turns brown as crops are harvested and grass dries out, and I wondered, are we any different to the residents of the past in our thought about the summer weather?
According to the “Steiglitz Miner & Meredith Shire Advertiser”, dated Saturday 5th February 1898, (120 yrs ago) “The weather this week has been unusually severe, the following is the reading of the thermometer taken at 3pm each day in the shade at the Miner Office in Staughton St, Sunday 102F ( 38.8 C), Monday,100 (37.77) Tuesday 98 (36.6) Wednesday & Thursday 96 (35.5) Friday 102 (38.8) 
The following week Saturday 12th February, it was reported “The weather during the week has been very mild compared with previous. Though threatening at times, the long looked for rains did not come till yesterday when a steady downpour commenced. Most of the house holders’ tanks are empty and many have to purchase water carted from the Moorabool River, while others are getting it from wherever they can get it. The following are thermometer reading for the week, Sunday 80F ( 26.6C), Monday 88 ( 31.1) Tuesday 100 ( 37.7) Wednesday 70 ( 21.1) Thursday 71 ( 21.6) Friday 70 ( 21.1) “


Sounds familiar to summer weather today! My thoughts travel to thinking of life in 1890’s, how hot and unforgiving it would have been, and how easy we have it 120 yrs on. Grateful that at least we can wear cooler clothes especially as a women, we don’t have to rely on wood cooking for meals and we have fans, if not air conditioners to cool our homes, and tractors for harvesting, no longer having to walk behind a horse  or harvest by hand.
So, what about that important Rain? Have local Rainfall figures changed much over past 140 years?
Research via the Bureau of Meteorology web page shows last year 2018 we had only 424mm rain – 5th driest year on record! The lowest rainfall recorded in 1967 was 356.5mm & in 2006 – 393.20mm. The Highest rainfall was 1970 with 1108mm & 1978- 1021.2mm. (refer Chart) The Rainfall in 1898 was low for Jan 1.5, Feb 12.7, Mar 7.1 mm then rose to average to 50mm per month for rest of the year! So, fingers crossed for 2019.


The mean average rainfall over past 140 years in Meredith is 667.7mm.  Rainfall has declined in last 20 years, but is it a naturally occurring cyclic pattern or due to Climate change? Wonder what the temperatures and rainfall figures will look like in the next 120 years?
Did you know that the understanding of matters meteorological was so rudimentary in the early decades of the colonies that until at least 1855, people thought weather systems moved from east to the west? The spread of the telegram would confirm the opposite to be true, particularly when Adelaide and Perth were linked in 1877.
Without the benefits of weather forecasts via satellite the residents of Meredith in 1890’s would have relied on local knowledge and old wife’s tales to predict the weather. (see Predicting the Weather box)
Is it just me or are the scientific weather forecast becoming more complicated but less reliable? No offense BOM but it just seems like the weather has a mind of its own and it will never be tamed with computer predictions and that maybe the ways of predicting the weather in the past where as accurate as what we have today.
I suspect that the residents of Meredith in 1898 chatted about the weather just as we do today, but I think they were more in tune , so another reason why  we need to spend more time outside and, in the earth, watching and listening and nature will give us signs to read just like she did for the residents of Meredith 120 years ago .
Local Knowledge and Old Wives Tales for Weather Predicting
Cumulonimbus clouds (traditional thunderstorm looking clouds) early in the day and developing throughout the day can mean greater chance of severe weather.
Cirrus clouds (the stringy fluffy ones), high in the sky like long streamers, means bad weather within next day and half.
Altocumulus clouds (look like fish scales), also “mean” bad weather within the next day and half
Cumulus towers (look like an explosion in the sky) indicates the possibility of showers later in the day.
Nimbostratus clouds (rain clouds) hang low ad heavy in the sky, and means rain is imminent.
Cirrocumulus clouds (small, puffy in rows) means that cold weather is on its way.
Red sky in morning (east) shepherds warning. Red sky at night (west) shepherds delight
If there is a ring around the moon at night, rain will come in the next 3 days.
If you take a deep breath and smell earth and compost, moisture is coming soon.
If the flowers or leaves, think Gum trees, smell stronger than normal, rain is on its way.
Black cockatoos the number of them flying low indicates how many days of rain are ahead.
If Cattle seek a corner of a paddock or lie down in a group in the paddock, a severe storm is imminent
Cats will clean their ears before rain
The louder the frogs, the more the rain.
To convert cricket chirps to degree Fahrenheit, count number of chirps in 14 seconds then add 40 to get the temperature.
If you make afire outside and the smoke goes straight up, you will have good weather. If the smoke curls and wisps, then rain is on its way.
If it rains before seven, it will clear before eleven.
And there you go a bit of old folks wisdom, and some times it is way more accurate than the Weather forecasters and their technology!