Wartime Weather Forecasting in UK


Today it is very easy to find out what sort of weather has been forecast, whether it is for a day, or longer periods.  UK and Australian farmers, fishermen and the general public did not have this luxury during World War 11

In the early days of the war in the UK, there was a limited one-day forecast issued by the Air Ministry who at that time were responsible for the Meteorological Bureau. However, it soon became apparent that clear skies were an open invitation for the Luftwaffe to attack and a complete ban was imposed on all plain language weather forecasts.

The harvest of 1942 was a critical factor in the outcome of the war, and it changed the farming scene in most parts of Britain.  Pastures disappeared as land was ploughed and drained for cereal crops, much for the first time in history. Farmers needed to group together to provide sufficient labour for harvesting and to do this they had to have knowledge of future weather conditions for their area.

After much consultation the Air Ministry finally agreed to issue a daily weather forecast to assist farmers in providing food for the nation. A cypher message was passed through Ministry of Agriculture for a local War Agriculture member to decipher and pass a coded message on to farmers in his area.

A simple code was used. The message would begin with Pubulum (Latin for food for thought) followed by the name of the county and the further outlook and forecast words in sequence. The further outlook code word precedes the forecast code word. For example: ‘Pubulum Kent Buy Dog’ would mean ~ no rain in Kent during next 24 hours, low humidity and sunshine, with a further outlook of continuing settled or good weather for some time ahead.

The code names for the 24 hour forecasts were Dog, Horse, Cow, Sheep and Pig, and for further outlook forecasts Buy, Fat and Sell


Forecast to Saturday July 11


June 2015 Climate

June 2015 Stat

El Niño is Getting Stronger

Issued on 23 June 2015 |

The 2015 El Niño continues to strengthen. Central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature indices are more than 1 °C above average for the sixth consecutive week. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology indicate further consolidation is likely. El Niño events typically strengthen during the second half of the year, reaching full strength during late spring or early summer. It is not possible at this stage to determine how strong this El Niño will be.      El Niño episodes in the south-east usually mean we are in for a drier than normal Winter and Spring

Clement Wragge -Meteorologist

Our Maleny weather records going back to 1885 partly due to the foresight of   Clement Wragge.


Clement Wragge  was Queensland’s first government meteorologist had the foresight to set up a rain recording station at Maleny and we now have over 120 years of accurate records

Clement Lindsay Wragge was truly an extraordinary person. He was tall, lean and restless with a mop of red hair and bounding energy. Born in England in 1852 and son of a solicitor he trained in law. His love of natural science proved too much and he ran away to sea where he learned, navigation, astronomy and meteorology.

Clement Wragge then joined the Royal Meteorological Society and was given the task of setting up a weather stations at Fort William and on top of Ben Nevis – Britain’s tallest mountain

Arriving in Australia to take up his appointment as Government Meteorologist of Queensland on 1st January 1887 it rained incessantly for several weeks resulting in him receiving his nickname of “inclement” Wragge.

Wragge’s rise to fame was that in an incredibly short space of time he had established 400 rain recording stations, including Maleny, and 100 synoptic weather stations, including Crohamhurst Observatory, near Peachester It was here under the guidance of his pupil and assistant, Inigo Jones, the observatory was to become a world famous centre for long range forecasting using a European technique of 30 year cycles that Wragge had learned about at one of the International Meteorological Conferences he had attended in Munich and Paris and later improved upon by Inigo Jones.

Another first for Wragge was naming of tropical cyclones, using the Greek alphabet, progressing through Greek and Roman mythology and finally to names of politicians of the day, on the grounds that both were ‘national disasters’. The system of naming of cyclones lapsed for many years but was resumes by the BOM in 1963.

Wragge thought he could break droughts by firing Steiger Canons at rain bearing clouds. He set up a ring of canons around Charleville and fired them all at the same time to create a tremor in the atmosphere. The experiment was a failure. One of the Steiger canons is still place and can be seen at Charleville, Queensland…


The colourful sunset on Tuesday June2 captured the attention of many Maleny weather- watchers and I have been asked what makes such a wonderful spectacle happen.

This phenomenon usually occur in winter months when stable weather conditions prevail such as when we are under the influence of a high pressure system with light winds, and altostratus clouds streaking low in the western sky. Often present is a prominence of pollution in the atmosphere  in the form of dust or sand blown in from deserts.  The pollution in last week’s particular instance was smoke from back-burning, and as there was little or no wind for dispersal it was held down by a temperature inversion.

A setting sun with rays of light through any of the above medium will cause refraction in the atmosphere  visible to the naked eye as  colours  ranging from yellow to orange  to red.

Maleny climate in May 2011 – 2015

May Stats 2015

Bishop’s Ring (2)

Climatologists started to study the effect of volcanic dust in the atmosphere using Krakatoa as the baseline and today we have the International Airways Volcano Watch (IAVW) system for the safety of air transport following volcano eruptions.

Since volcanic ash is composed of very abrasive silica materials, it can damage the airframe and flight surfaces, clog different systems, abrade cockpit windows and flame-out jet engines constituting a serious safety hazard. Volcanic ash can also have a serious effect on aerodromes located downwind of a volcanic ash plume since it contaminates runways, ground equipment and aircraft parked or taxiing around the aerodrome.

The IAVW system is designed to detect and track the movement of volcanic ash in the atmosphere and to warn aircraft in flight about this hazard. There are nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres responsible for the provision of information related to areas affected by volcanic ash and its future movement. The centres are located at Anchorage, Buenos Aires, Darwin, London, Montreal, Tokyo, Toulouse, Washington and Wellington.

Deep underground, Vulcan, the blacksmith to the gods, keeps his forge going constantly building up enough heat and pressure in readiness for the time to ‘blow its top’ and throw debris and dust into the atmosphere

El Niño in the tropical Pacific

The tropical Pacific is in the early stages of El Niño. Based upon model outlooks and current observations, the Bureau’s ENSO Tracker has been raised to El Niño status.

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators have shown a steady trend towards El Niño levels since the start of the year. Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have exceeded El Niño thresholds for the past month, supported by warmer-than-average waters below the surface. Trade winds have remained consistently weaker than average since the start of the year, cloudiness at the Date Line has increased and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has remained negative for several months. These indicators suggest the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere have started to couple and reinforce each other, indicating El Niño is likely to persist in the coming months.

El Niño is often associated with below-average winter and spring rainfall over eastern Australia, and above-average daytime temperatures over the southern half of the country. However, the current May to July outlook suggests much of Australia is likely to be wetter than average. This is because a warmer-than-average Indian Ocean is dominating this outlook. El Niño is expected to become the dominant influence on Australian climate during the second half of the year.

Bishop’s Ring

On 5th September 1883 the people of Hawaii were amazed to see their sun turned green with rings of pink, red, orange-rose and brown. This phenomenon was observed and accurately recorded at the time by Sereno Bishop of Honolulu and is now known as Bishop’s Ring.

Ten days earlier and more than a thousand miles away a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra blew itself apart with the loudest bang on earth. The blast was heard across 4500 kilometres, and even in London instruments registered the concussion and continued to do so up to nine days later, when the echoes of the report were making their seventh circuit of the world!

A sea wave 100 metres high swept aside lighthouses like matchsticks, left a Dutch warship three kilometres up a Sumatran valley and drowning over 36,000 people

This was Krakatoa. The explosion pushed a gigantic column of smoke and dust through the ceiling of the troposphere up to a height of 50 kilometres.

Something that made Krakatoa different from other major events in the 19th century was the introduction of the transoceanic telegraph cables. The news of Lincoln’s assassination less than 20 years earlier had taken nearly two weeks to reach Europe, as it had to be carried by ship. But when Krakatoa erupted, a telegraph station at Batavia (present day Jakarta, Indonesia) was able to send the news to Singapore. Dispatches were relayed quickly and literally within hour’s newspaper readers in London, Paris, Boston, and New York were being informed of the colossal events in the distant Sunda Straits.

(to be continued)