Feeling frustrated by the wind? You're not alone. Already 6 moths in and barely able to remember a good string of kiting sessions...2018 has officially gone down as the worst Spring kiting we've ever known.
Haunted by long periods of high pressure and light Northeasterly winds, the question we get asked all the time is when's it going to change? Not able to control the weather, we can't say for sure, but by understanding why it's been so funky you might join us in seeing light at the end of the tunnel and gain a little hope that it will soon be back to normal. For sure up and down regularly, but at least delivering bouts of wind driven fun.
So in an educational blog piece here we're going to look at 'how' the weather works, aiming to answer 'why' its been so shoddy, with the hope of seeing 'when' it's going to change.
Looking at the bigger picture It's important to understand how weather works.
Quite a major subject, it can be made simple by remembering that heat causes moisture to evaporate and air to rise up full of energy. Spinning clockwise whilst it rises (in the northern hemisphere) it leaves the surface with a lower air pressure and then condensing as clouds as it cools at altitude. Known as a 'low pressure system' this carries energy and moisture (wind and rain).
Dumping its moisture as rain and cooling, the air then falls back down towards the ground, compressing under itself, spinning anticlockwise (in the Northern hemisphere) with clear, dry skies as a stable and more dominant 'high pressure system'.
With a little more understanding about isobars and weather fronts you can now start to make your own daily prediction with a Met Office Synoptic chart, calculating wind strength, direction and rainfall changes.
Forecasting more than 24 hours ahead gets a little more tricky as we need to look above the weather systems to the jet stream 5-7 miles up.
Caused by the spinning of the planet, the Coriolis effect creates strong orbiting flows of air in clockwise and anticlockwise motions around the planet.
Heading west to east on the the UK's latitude, the jet stream plays a big part in pushing weather systems around the world. Fluctuating it's speed and sometimes direction it guides how fast and strong the weather will change down at ground level.
So always looking to the west of us on a chart, guided by how fast and straight the jet stream is moving we can look at the weather systems to make a prediction of whats inbound.
Of course building accuracy by taking into consideration local effects and knowledge of how differing systems rebound off each other as they move around.
This is where the Met Office, Wind guru, Windfinder and others step in, having developed computer algorithms which use data from since records began to look for patterns in the charts which we've seen before and put out a prediction which is most likely to pan out correctly.
So what's gone down this year? Why have the patterns been so off and why havn't the forecast's been able to predict it?
Quite simply we've not seen weather like it before. The Jet stream has been swirling back on it's self and the low pressure systems have been either too small to matter, or sent North towards the arctic.
Without turning this kiting focused blog into a climate change, save the planet piece, the weather is changing. Combined with coming out of a La Nina year in March 2018, things are different.
We've seen it over the last 2 years, when our seasons became almost like the tropics, calm and dry through spring and Autmumn, followed by wet and windy in Summer and winter.
It means as 'wind chasers' we need to adapt to understand it, looking at the forecast as a guide and looking for patterns ourselves to ensure we're ready not to miss a moment.
What can we see and predict? Well, there's change ahead, the jet stream is finally straightening west to east and building speed, there's energy forming in the Atlantic and we're looking at a pretty hefty low pressure system due to hit from mid next week, our hope is that a big blow out could reset the patterns for a little while at least.
Whilst we're not saying that's kiting 'on' for the next 6 months, we are hoping it'll blasts through us, continues East and clear the way for more regular British weather following behind it. Not good news for the bucket and spade brigade, it'll mean changeable westerly flow, opening the door to further weather systems and localised sea breezes.
Of course there's no guarantees, but if it stays westerly after this next system we'll be getting excited and gearing up for another windy summer.