Despite the best efforts of the Met Office at Ronaldsway Airport, weather forecasting continues to be a dark art on the Isle of Man.
As an example let’s take the latest weather forecast from Ronaldsway
Dry this evening and overnight with the light to moderate east or north-easterly wind turning east or south-east and becoming moderate to fresh, locally strong later. Lowest overnight temperature around 4 Celsius.
Now while I admire anyone who went to University, spent years practising their trade (without or with the aid of super computers at Exeter) there is a slight problem on the Isle of Man, it’s called micro-climates, these are the little things that to a local, explains why you can drive from Douglas in bright sunshine, pass through Crosby six miles away with the wipers on the car going full tilt and then emerge into bright sunshine again at Greeba, approximately a mile and a half outside Crosby.
This also leads to the TT phenomenon ( microclimates not rain) whereby the Practices will be held up due to mist on the Mountain Section, while the rest of the course is usually bathed in temperatures of up 24 Celsius, although on one rare occasion when I had the delights of Marshalling on Bray Hill, it was actually the Mountain and Ramsey in bright sunshine and the Start to Quarterbridge in the mist. Obviously not very safe for riding at speeds at the time of unto 115mph.
So what does the local do to correct this standard or nonstandard deviation in Manx weather, well depending on where you’re living a number of factors can be taken into account. If you’re situated in the West the usual practice is to look to the coast and see what sort of rubbish is blowing in from Northern Ireland, they say if you stand on Peel Headlands and you can see Scotland and Northern Ireland then the weather is usually going to be abysmal within forty eight hours. If you stand on the Headlands or Peel Hill or any points on the west coast and you can’t see anything then tough, you’ve mistimed your walk and you’re probably right up to your neck in a Force 9 with rain at the horizontal, for the locals amongst us the usual rejoinder is ‘ a bit of a breeze’ or us transplanted Londoners ‘it’s a bit tasty out innit’.
Those residents lucky enough to live on the northern plains of the Island have a number of choices, usually these follow along the lines of walking out the front door, doing a 360 whilst gazing into the distance like a man in the crow’s nest hoping to glimpse land, although if you are doing this you’re more likely to see a ship either coming down the east coast past Ramsey or going across the top of the Island from Stranraer to Larne.
Residents in the south of the Island have the enviable delight of knowing when the mist is down on the South usually due to the lack of the paper plane not being able to land at Ronaldsway Airport, this has been known to cause chaos in the past with postmen setting their alarm clocks ( or not) by the sound of the paper plane arriving in over Castletown on the flight path to Ronaldsway and on days when the mist arrives being late for work and turning up grumpy.
People in living on the east coast are lucky, they just have to ring up friends on the West and ask what the weather is doing , because usually an hour later they get the weather that’s come in from the West.
So there you have it a brief guide to weather forecasting (or not) on the Isle of Man and why it’s just the safe option to stick your head out the door and see what’s going on around you.