paddling in the mist

It must be an awful job, being a weatherman/women in Scotland. Dangerous too. Not to mention the mental health issues that might occur while having this job.

It is probably advisable to have an alias when having this job and not reveal your actual name into the media. Just think about the hate mail coming your way!

securing the tent with kayaks during windforce 8 gale
Securing the tent with our kayaks during a wind force 8 gales on Westray.

Just imagine, here you are behind your desk at the computer, looking at the weather charts and the pressure systems moving over the world. Expensive tools like powerful weather satellites in Europe and data of weather stations all over the country, helping you with following and computing the developing weather systems. It helps you study the way the jetstream guides the frontal systems over the sea and land. With all kinds of difficult calculations, it predicts the wind in isobars and speeds and how the high- and low-pressure areas develop. Taken in account the troughs and ridges of cause.
Carefully, you analyse the collected data and check it with another calculating method and weather stations from a different site. Yes, the weather prediction is complete, while evaluating the results just once more, you write a weather report and sent it in to be broadcasted by the media and coastguard. It is going to be a glorious weekend with some good sunshine.

After a long day at the office, you go home. You cook dinner, put the kids to bed and watch the news with the weather forecast where you worked so hard for. With a satisfied feeling and a small smile on your face, you turn off the telly and go to bed. Sleeping soundly.

Only to wake up with rain pounding on your bedroom window and the wind howling around your house! That wasn’t in your weather prediction! That low-pressure system should have passed well above Shetland to Norway. It was supposed to be a high-pressure system bringing lovely sunshine and low winds. What happened?
You get up with that sick feeling in your stomach. You think of all those people who made plans for the weekend and bought meat for a BBQ or going on outdoor pursuits. Villages who have their annual highland games and cancelled the marque because of your ‘good weather’ prediction.
You go back to your bed and pull the covers up over your head. This can’t be true!!

You hear the phone on the nightstand ringing, it’s your boss, but you don’t dare to pick it up. Then you hear the pings of app messages and E-mails coming in on all devices. You know these messages will contain all kinds of abuse from people you don’t know. Calling you names, advise you to take another job because you suck at being a weatherman/women and explaining way’s they are going to kill you or having suggestion on how to take your own life. And you put the pillow over your head to dampen the sound. Underneath the pillow, your head starts spinning. Where did I miss this weather front, how did this happen, I did all the calculations and checks, I was sharp and alert yesterday because I didn’t go to the pub the night before. I’m such a loser!! I can’t go out and show my face anywhere. The neighbours, people in the supermarket, my own mother will start to ask questions. How do I face the world out there?

Your two children are standing alongside your bed asking you to play with them. You tell them to go and play from underneath the pillow and by putting your hand just out from underneath the duvet and signing with hand gestures to the door.
Finally, you crawl out from the bed and try to find the pills the doctor prescribed to calm the nerves. Just one extra to be sure, you wash the pills down with a glass of water while you look at yourself in the mirror. A morning face stares back, with puffed-up eyes and hair sticking to all sides from being under the pillow too long. You wonder what that dark cloud is doing over your head. Och yes, that cloud indicates how you feel.
You stumble down the stairs to the kitchen where you find your kids yelling and screaming over a toy they both want to play with. You ignore them, sit down and switch on the telly. BBC Breakfast is on.
‘And what about the weather Carol? The people in Scotland have quit a system coming their way. This storm wasn’t predicted yesterday, was it? I bet they were looking forward to a lovely sunny weekend!’
Before Carol can react to this question, you turn off the telly…..

Charlotte standing in a windforce 8 gale

While sitting on a rock sipping hot coffee from my stainless steel cup, I stare over the very calm sea I think, Yep, being a weatherman/women in Scotland must be a terrible job. You can be attacked by a total stranger in the street if you get it wrong. And I can tell you from experience, the prediction is often wrong or exaggerated.
But the mental health issues for weatherman/women are so much worse if you take this job too seriously. Scottish weathermen/women must have a great sense of humour and resilience to do this job and put things in perspective if they get the weather prediction wrong.

I think back on the weather forecast of yesterday evening. There were some strong winds predicted. But I don’t see them anywhere on the horizon. So kayaking is on for today!!.

Disturbing clouds and strong winds
Disturbing clouds and strong winds during our kayaking trip.

Charlotte Gannet

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