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Summer reading....

I came across this second hand recently and really enjoyed it: a history of weather forecasting and how that science took shape.

Its full of fascinating anecdote and side-story, alongside the overview it gives us of how the world slowly and painfully came to accept that weather forecasting was even possible.

Amongst the bits I found interesting were...

how Beaufort (of the Beaufort Scale) spent months in his earlier career trying to establish a pre-electric telegram system for Ireland. The idea was to get word quickly to Dublin if the French were to invade on the west coast, and it involved placing men on a sequence of hill-tops across the country trained in a type of semaphore. It never became functional, not least due to the Irish weather - how often could you depend on the sort of visibility required in a country beset by 'unceasing storms, fogs and deluges.'

how Admiral Fitzroy, who had earlier captained the Beagle as it carried Darwin on his history making expedition, was a central figure in the development of weather forecasting, though the systems he tried to create, including the creation of the Met Office, only really became functional after he had died through suicide, a victim of depression at a time when it was little understood.

how in 1854, when a politician suggested to the House of Commons that Londoners might soon know the weather 24 hours in advance, he was met with howls of laughter.

how investigators were sent out around Britain to look at flattened fields of wheat after storms. By noting the direction in which the wheat was lying, the wind patterns could be mapped - and this is how we very slowly came to accept the swirling, circular shape of storms.

Assuming you can't find it in a charity shop for €1 as I did, it looks like it's available here for anybody interested....

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