Friday, 4 February 2011

Is Winter Over?

As in most countries, the weather is always a topic of conversation when bumping into friends and neighbours. Not normally noteworthy discussions, but I was intrigued when a neighbour said to me on Tuesday that winter was over because it was a cloudy miserable day. The logic baffled me somewhat and to ascertain how he “knew” this interesting fact, I asked for clarification and he explained that the 2nd February was La Chandleur (Candlemas) and

Si la Chandeleur dégoute, l'hiver est passé sans doute.

Well it was a pretty disgusting day so he may be right. Punxsutawney Phil?

When I got home I looked around on the Internet and I found an old English saying:

If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter is gone and will not come again

Over and above that, I was reminded that Candlemas is also “Groundhog Day” and anyone who has ever seen the film with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell will not be able to forget Punxsutawney Phil poking his head out of his burrow to see if he casts a shadow or not. Truly inspired I decided to put all this to the test.

As many will know I have a bit of an obsession with the weather, I write down every day what the weather is in the morning, in the afternoon and during the evening/night. I read off the maximum and minimum temperatures for each day as well as measuring the rainfall. Not extremely scientific but close enough to create an interesting record. So out came my spreadsheet and I set to work.

Weather on 2nd February whilst we have been in France:
2006 misty all day, under zero for another 12 days and snow was lying on the ground for 6 days only 4 days without freezing weather in next 60 days.
2007 cloudy all day, very little frost after this date.
2008 sunny all day, very cold until the end of March.
2009 sunny all day, very cold until the end of March.
2010 sunny all day, very cold until the end of March.
2011 cloudy all day, it has warmed up already but who knows what will happen.

So apart from 2006, which could of course have been a sunny day just trying to break through the mist, it seems like it works!

And with that exciting discovery my mind wandered on to Saint Swithun's day (July 15). The weather on St Swithun's day is said to continue for the next 40 days, so if it rains on that day, 40 days of rain will follow and if it is sunny, we will get 40 days of sun. Well without going into copious boring details, this does not work at all, not one single year whilst we have lived here comes anywhere near meeting the criteria above. However, I then spotted in Wikipedia that in France it is Saint Medard’s day (June 8), that influences the weather not old St Swithun from Winchester, logical really why would an English saint have any effect on French weather? Back to the spreadsheet.

June 8th - July 18th
2006 sunny. Apart from three late evening thunderstorms there was no rain and it was sunny almost every day.snowdrops
2007 cloudy morning and sunny afternoon. We had changeable weather right through to 11th July then it was sunny.
2008 cloudy morning and sunny afternoon, cool weather. It stayed cool for another 2 weeks then hot and sunny for 2 weeks then cool and rainy.
2009 sunny morning and rain in the afternoon. Amazingly enough half the days until the 18th were very similar.
2010 drizzle all day. It rained for next 12 days, then it was sunny until after the 18th.

So how does St Medard fare? My unscientific analysis of this one is that he only seems to predict the weather for about 2 weeks, then the next 3 – 4 weeks of his prediction time are a bit hit and miss.

Anyway, back to winter - is it over or not? The spring bulbs are all poking out of the ground, Fifi is spending a lot of time outside and there is a lot of chattering of birds and frantic activity in the hedges, so maybe my neighbour is right and winter is in fact over. Time will tell.

La Tuilerie Website

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...