What the hell is wrong with the German weather forecast? When I lived in The Netherlands, the weather forecast was reasonably reliable. Forecasts where pretty close to what was to be expected and I could usually check a few days in advance if weather would be good, bad, ugly or pretty. Maybe it was because The Netherlands traditionally has only crappy weather, and thus that is easier to predict reliably? Since I moved to Germany, I hardly ever look at weather forecasts. In the winter there is not much to look at anyway. Every day, the forecast says 5 degrees and fog. The weather here, due all the peatland areas North of the Alps, is often foggy, gloomy and grey from October until April. When the sun does manage to dissolve the fog, or it happens to snow, you just consider it a lucky day. It seems that they cannot really predict when that is going to happen. Looking at the weather forecasts in the winter doesn’t make much sense. I hoped that this would be different in the summer season.

During the past week I have – for a change – checked the weather forecast regularly, because we will have to do some fieldwork next week, and this includes planting greenhouse-grown plants out in the open field. As this procedure is always a bit shocking for plants – they don’t like frost, scorching heat, or hurricane conditions in their first days out – I keep an eye on the weather, so we can take precautionary measures when needed. In addition, we wanted to take this field work as an opportunity to spend some time away from home in our new campervan. Obviously, for my wife and son, this would be most enjoyable if the weather will be good. Both in Freising, where I am, and in Jena, where the plants will go next, the weather has been indicated with a dark grey cloud with at least one rain droplet below it for the 14 days ahead. The situation has been like this for at least a week. A closer inspection of the hourly rain forecast indicated high chances (60-70%) of rain during day time, almost every day. During the night, it is almost always indicated as dry. The daily prognosis seems to be a copy-paste from the last week, every week.

Yet, I’m writing this while a bright beam of sunlight shines upon me through my roof window. What do you mean grey clouds and rain? The skies are bright blue, dotted with some light fluffy clouds. Now, I’m no weather guy, but to me, it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain today. Contrary to the forecast, it rained last night (and I think it did the last five or six nights). The weather here is almost always better than the forecasts. It feels like the Germans love to underpromise and overdeliver on the weather.

The predicted weather in Jena today was grey, cloudy, with a lot of drizzle. The weather forecasts were spot-on, as you can clearly see from this picture sent to me earlier today by the colleague that prepared the field plots.

A steady 18 degrees centigrade, combined with a regular light drizzle may sound like horrible to work in, but I would actually be happy, as this would be quite good for the plants to settle in. For my family, I wish for at least some sunny intervals. The van is great, but staying inside for three days with an energetic toddler might not be very relaxing.

It seems that there is not much that we can do but hope for the best.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

3 thoughts on “Unpredictable

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