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BLOG : Having fun with weather forecasting

Children have a huge fascination with the weather. Let’s not talk about me for one second…as my fascination borders on unhealthy. But most kids do love the weather and it really makes up a big part of being children.

For example, how many times have you seen a drawing that has a big smiling sun? Or perhaps a fluffy white cloud? What about a big angry looking grey cloud with a thunder bolt coming out?

One of my favourite books when I was a child was The Witch in the Cherry Tree. I loved it because the kid was inside on a wet day and the home was all cosy as the Mum baked muffins. I’m pretty sure I used to try and get my Mum to bake on wet days because of that book.

How many times as kids did we sing “rain, rain go away”? And how often did we drive our parents up the wall playing in the rain and getting our clothes wet…then getting our dry change of clothes wet 10 minutes later?

The first book I remember reading was a book about clouds. I used to walk around trying to match the clouds in the sky with the clouds in my book. I was seven years old.

Mind you, I’m the exception.

To be honest, I don’t think I’m as obsessed as some of you might think. I get bored easily so that doesn’t really fit in well to someone with an “obsession”. I love the weather but I love the element of surprise that I had when I was kid and a thunderstorm just suddenly appeared.

Perhaps I’m a rare person in the forecasting world…I actually don’t want the weather to become too much more predictable. It’s a bit like knowing the date of your death…surveys show that if you could find out the date you were going to die we would almost overwhelmingly chose not to know. I’m the same way about the weather. When I was a kid the weather was a huge surprise…and to know in too much detail what is going to happen simply takes the drama and excitement away.

The weather is a constant flirt with forecasters and we all know how flirting affects us. It keeps us energised and youthful and interested.

Being youthful is a great thing.

So the next time it’s sunny perhaps lie down in the grass and see what shapes the clouds make. Maybe as an adult you might have a ruder imagination … suddenly that doesn’t look like a rabbit, it looks like….well you get the drift. last week launched a new page on our site. It’s called Kids’ Weather – and has weather songs and stories for children. It’s part of the kiwi website  – a unique website that has kiwi stories for kiwi kids – it’s a really fun site and kids get a chance to win stuff…and lets be honest, what kid doesn’t want to win stuff? Look for the Kids’ Weather link on the homepage.

Maybe it’s because my Dad was a primary school principal and my Mum used to read to me EVERY night but I have a big passion for kids reading (even if I don’t read as much now as my Dad would like…I’m too busy writing weather updates to read lots of books).

I’ve always been a fan of injecting FUN into weather forecasting…whether it’s me being sarcastic and ranting at something or simply having every day kiwis post comments and photos – so having a kids weather page really fits right in.

The weather this weekend looks wet – and cold. In fact a southerly is going to come through and really hack those temperatures back as far north as Northland by Sunday. Daytime highs will be much lower than they have been.

So Mums (and Dads to be politically correct) – perhaps it’s time to get some baking ingredients and share the joys of the Witch in the Cherry Tree if it’s miserable outside where you are this weekend – and do some baking with your kids as winter makes a short come back.


Claire on 8/10/2009 10:09am

I had a book of cloud formations when I was about 10 and loved to try and match those in the sky to the book. I can still remember which ones it said meant fine weather was coming and which meant showers were imminent. It was one of those Usborne junior science ones. I also had one on how to be a spy, LOL.

Now I have 2 year old son and he often likes to comment on the weather – it’s “wet and slippy” in the back garden, or raining, or windy. I hope he inherits my love of the weather (but not my desire to go tornado hunting in the USA).

Chris B on 7/10/2009 10:04am

Your name! I’m assuming it’s Mr Duncan that wrote this 🙂

Great article. I used to live in Christchurch and oh the joy when I was in my early teens watching those Cumulonimbus clouds roll in from the north-west/west. I used to get so exited watching them build and then run around the house looking for the best vantage point when I saw the lightning! Mum always closed the curtains but I was always lookin’ through them…

Mind you, I’m not much different now, except in Wellington it’s a rare thing! My Fiancee in chch knows all about my obsession…I forget her when the roll of thunder kicks in – she just smiles and says “Whatever does it for you honey”…

Oh, and incy wincy spider was one of the ones I remember as a kid!

WW Forecast Team on 7/10/2009 10:53am

Yes it was from me, I wrote it for the Herald but my name was left off when it was published here this afternoon.  Thanks very much Chris – and great to hear your story!

I LOVE Wellington’s weather…miss it a lot.  Although for the past couple years I think Wellington has had very quiet weather really.  Auckland and Chch have taken a lot of the headlines as far as main centres go.  Actually even Chch has been pretty quiet.

Thanks again for the comments.


CHDAVIS-NZ on 7/10/2009 2:01am

A great article Weather Watch *thumbs up* and one we all enjoyed reading today.

The Kids Weather website is great *applauds* I did take a look at it a couple of days ago. and we I loved it… AWESOME.

A huge thank you to the Weather Watch team for creating a place for our kids to go and learn about the weather…

Thank you, we appreciate all your wonderful work.

WW Forecast Team on 7/10/2009 10:56am

Thanks so much – I will be sure to pass on your comment to too – without them we wouldn’t even have the link.  Ron Mackie, who runs the site, is such an enthusiastic man and he really motivated me to get the link up and running.

It’s only just started and we hope to see kids sending in their weather pictures and weather stories to him, and to us here!

Also, next year, we’re hoping to introduce and education centre for kids…aaand for adults too!  We’ll make it very basic but just enough to learn the every day terms and things we see in weather maps etc.  I think you and many other readers at WeatherWatch would find it appealing.


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