Interview with Patrick Gordon

Private Weather Station Owner

 

1. Do you remember when you first became interested in weather? How did that happen?

I can’t recall a specific weather event or point in time that prompted my interest in but as a child I was always fascinated by both the rapid changes in the weather and why they occurred. I remember even then being as equally excited at seeing rain falling as snow!

 

 2.  Is there a particular weather event that you will never forget?

The thunderstorm of late June 1986. I distinctly remember the expansive and dense looking mid-level clouds taking on an eerie, portentous black green tone about an hour before the storm arrived. I have never witnessed anything remotely like it since.

 

3.  What types of weather or weather phenomena are you most passionate about?

Without a doubt, it has to be thunderstorms but I am fascinated by any weather extreme, whether it be in the form of wind, heat, cold or rainfall.

 

4. Have you noticed any major changes in Irish weather patterns since you started observing and recording them?

Only speaking from personal observation but there seems to be increasing rarity of    continental air masses making their way up as far as Ireland, especially during the summer and winter seasons. Although I have no statistical evidence to prove this, it does appear that strong, influential anticyclones developed more readily over the southern Scandinavian/east European region prior to the start of the millennium than at any time after.

There also appears to be a decrease in the frequency and intensity of slow moving occluded fronts stalling over Ireland from deep primary or secondary depressions lying off the south or southwest coast in all seasons. Again, actual statistics may prove the contrary.

 

5. From a weather point of view, where in Ireland would you choose to live? And similarly where in the world would you choose to live?

In Ireland, probably Co. Mayo. Not only does it tend to bear the brunt of vigorous Atlantic weather but it also can record some of the highest and coldest temperatures in Ireland. It is also a very beautiful county.

Globally, most likely the American Southeast or the Northern Territories in Australia.

 

6.  Can you tell us a little about local variations around the county of Galway?

Galway is a large county that spans an area from the west coast right through to the geographical midlands so naturally there are many local climate variations within it.I have observed over the years that the greater east Galway region in general tends to avoid the brunt of Atlantic weather fronts that can dump large amounts of rain most other western regions. On the other hand, I have noticed more than once that active developing wave depressions moving up from the southwest often skirt east of Connemara while at the same time giving large amounts of rain in the east and south of the county.

 

7. We're aware that you compile a lot of weather statistics; can you list some of the    most interesting ones?

(From official Met Eireann data: )

-The high rainfall totals on the 6th September 2010 from a slow moving Atlantic front. Amazingly, recorded daily totals came in much higher at most inland stations than at those situated in more coastal regions.

-The persistence of sub-zero temperatures at some stations in December 2010.

-The tendency for the year on year mean minima to rise slightly faster than that of the mean maxima.

 

From my own weather station:,(Davis V2pro) Almost 300mm of rain in November 2009 and a hourly rainfall total of 49mm between 7pm and 8pm on the 21st June 2008, of which 47mm fell in a 40min period during a severe thunderstorm.

 

8.  Is there any truth to the proverb ‘No weather’s ill if the wind be still’?

I think so. Even the smallest hint of a breeze can change one’s personal perspective of a particular weather event. For example, a temperature of 0.0c will feel more uncomfortable if there is a light breeze - even more so if there is a strong one.  Similarly, rain or snow when accompanied by wind will seem a lot more intense and unpleasant. Having said that, you can’t beat a nice refreshing breeze on a hot day!

 

9.  How valuable are good visual observation skills for amateur weather enthusiasts in your opinion? Are these being overlooked in favour of models and high-res satellite imagery?

They are valuable and while I don’t think manual observation is being intentionally overlooked in favour of more sophisticated methods, the actual raw, human experience of weather and weather events is something statistics, automated weather stations and models will never really be able to express.

 

10.  What are your concerns for the future with regards to climate change?

Since over half of the world’s population live in low lying coastal cities and towns, my biggest concern would be for the projected increase in the risk of coastal flooding.

 

11.  Besides meteorology, what other interests have you?

I have an interest in politics, and more especially in how the political process impacts itself on the social realm. I also enjoy reading with a propensity towards Irish, English and American literature.

 

12.  Name one thing you will never understand?

Everything!

 

13.  In another life what would you have been?

Most likely working 20hrs a day in my spacious office in a meteorology department with all the data I could ever ask for at my fingertips! Either that or I would have been a meteorologist working behind the scenes somewhere.

 

15.  What is your favourite song/piece of music?

Auto De Fe’s ‘November November’

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