50 Years Ago

The Meteorological Office is cheerful if restrained about the success of its long range weather prediction service in its annual report for 1965 ... Long range forecasts for a period of thirty days ahead have been published twice a month for the past three years ... the Meteorological Office says that results have been slightly better than expected ... forecasts are assessed after the event ... and “marks are given for the accuracy of forecasts of temperature, rainfall and additional information”. Predicting temperature seems to be the easiest, with twenty-eight out of fifty forecasts ranking for the mark “good agreement”. On rainfall, however, agreement between forecasts and reality was good on fourteen occasions, moderate on seventeen and deserving the description “little agreement” on nineteen occasions ... The long range forecasts are based on searches of records going back to the middle of the nineteenth century for analogous patterns of mean temperature and mean pressure in the northern hemisphere ... What might be called objective long range forecasting is reckoned to be an extremely distant prospect.

From Nature 20 August 1966

100 Years Ago

The firing of very heavy guns at a great distance was clearly audible at Harpenden throughout the days of August 7 and 8, as well as on previous occasions. The direction of the sound is evidently from the south-east, and that of each explosion lasts about two seconds. Our elevation is 440ft., and the local wind has been from west to north-west. The distance between Harpenden and Bapaume would be about 185 miles.

From Nature 17 August 1916 Footnote 1