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Monday, 18 October 2010

First Paranoia Of Autumn

One fact for Michael Caine’s next volume of things that not a lot of people know about: Plymouth is on the same latitude as Kiev, in the Ukraine. Compare and contrast weather patterns, especially those in winter. Kiev routinely has winter temperatures which we would find grim – exceptionally so.

We don’t tend to get grim winters, because not only do we have the benefit of the Gulf Stream, bringing warmer water from the Gulf of Mexico, the prevailing wind direction is usually from the south west, bringing milder if wetter weather with it. But when the wind direction turns, winters turn colder, and the assembled hackery gets terribly worked up.

First out of the blocks this autumn are the obedient servants of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail. There is, they tell us, to be a “big freeze”, with “Polar winds” on the way, along with “heavy snow”. It sounds authentically apocalyptic. And as with any overinflated hype, a few prods of enquiry and it falls flat in short order.

The cold snap, it is conceded, is due to the wind turning to the north, due to a depression over Scandinavia. But then, the article explains, the high pressure area that has given settled and dry weather over the last few days will then reassert itself – and temperatures will recover.

As for the “heavy snow”, that is “up to” two inches by the end of the week – for parts of the north. Those parts, it is conceded further on, are the Scottish Highlands. And the phrase “up to”, as any fule kno, includes the number zero.

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