12 March 2008

Weather at night? Not in France

Last night at 1:00 the sound of the wind buffeting the house, and the banging of shutters and windows in their frames, woke me up. It was blowing harder than it did even during the big storm we had on Monday — at least that was my impression.

Sunday afternoon, a sunny respite before
the last few days' stormy weather blew in

Lying half-awake for two hours listening to the whooshing wind noises and feeling the house actually shudder and twitch, I tried my best to get back into a sound sleep. Finally, at 3:00 a.m., the wind started blowing so hard that Callie got scared. She retreated to the living room and started barking at the clanking and clunking noises outside. With every howling wind gust, there was another shrill, howling bark.

"For once I'll sit still and let him take my picture."

I got up and brought the dog back into the bedroom, where she calmed down as the wind did the same. It was raining. I could hear the plonk! plonk! of big drops of water falling on the plexiglass awning over the back door, just below the bedroom window. I wished I had closed the shutters down there to keep rain off the door, but I didn't want to get up and do it in the middle of the storm.

"Now I can go back to sleep."

It was a surprise to hear and feel such strong winds because they hadn't really been mentioned on the weather forecasts on television. Forecasts are based on data from the French national weather service, Météo France. The forecast we saw had said that it would be raining at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday and clearing and breezy by 7:00 a.m. today, Wednesday.


And all that was perfectly accurate. It was raining yesterday right after dark. In fact, it had been raining for about 12 hours by then. Walt walked Callie in the rain in the morning, and I walked her in the rain in the afternoon. Otherwise, we were shut-ins. Today we are supposed to have showers, but not steady rain. C'est déjà ça — that's a slight improvement.

Pink primroses

But what about those high winds? Why weren't they predicted, or mentioned in the weather forecast? Well, it's because they came through the area between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., a twelve-hour period for which no predictions are issued. It's true whether you watch the weather forecasts on TV or look at them on the MétéoFrance web site.

Purple primroses

It's as if there is no weather at night in France. Only once or twice in the five years since we moved here here has Météo France released a forecast for nighttime conditions, and that was when there was going to be an exceptionally violent windstorm or a significant snowstorm. Otherwise, when it comes to nighttime weather in France, you are, well, in the dark.

"Can we go home now?"

It's as if everybody in the country goes home at night, closes all the shutters, and stays indoors without worrying about what is going on outdoors. All weather activity is virtually suspended, at least in the minds of the weather forecasters. Out of sight, out of mind. Why should you care about the weather when you are inside eating dinner, then watching TV, and finally sleeping, as they say, on both your ears?

Blue primroses


  1. I've been using this service to check the weather thereabouts. It seems to get some nighttime info from somewhere.

  2. Thanks, T.J. I've tried weather.com too but it doesn't seem as accurate as MétéoFrance. I'll keep an eye on Yahoo. Still, the French services don't give nighttime forecasts. Isn't that strange?

  3. Nothing's more adorable than a sleepy dog photo. Please keep the flower photos coming, too. They give me a lift.

    I wasn't sure if you'd get a comment if I put it on yesterday's post, so here is my all-time favorite cauliflower recipe. From Peter Berley: 3 T lemon juice, 3 T olive oil, salt, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, cauliflower florets, l red pepper sliced, 1 yellow pepper sliced; toss all and roast 45 min at 450, stirring every 15 min.

    Garnish with 1/2 C cilantro leaves unless you are a cilantrophobe like me.

  4. Claudia in Toronto12 March, 2008 17:04

    Half-asleep or wide awake, Callie is a star!
    Today I learned that a primrose can be pink, or blue, or purple. They're lovely, with the daffodils.

    I'm at the point now that I don't want to know how much snow will fall during the night...

  5. Thanks Louise, for the recipe. I will certainly try that. It sounds delicious. I guess we should try growing cauliflower in our garden. I'll have to look into that as a late winter/early spring crop.

    Claudia, the primroses come in nearly all colors. Are you serious about the snow? Is it still snowing there? Wow. I've been reading about how much snow there has been in northern New England, and a friend from Chicago told us recently that they've had more snow than in 30 years. Snow, Chicago, 1978 -- I remember it well.

  6. Meteo France: C'est la semaine de 35 heures cher Monsieur.
    Just kidding Ken.
    As far as snow in Eastern Canada, in Montreal they are calling it the snow storm of the century ( well we are still in the first decade of this millennium) because some cars are still buried under the white heavy stuff and the airlines are still getting rid of the backlogs of passengers from last wednesday and last WE storms. In Quebec city they have had 468 cm of snow since last November and now some people are experiencing snow rage - too much snow that they don't know where to put it. Thus neighbours are getting on the nerves of each other in some burbs.

    We are still expecting some more cms over the next couple of days though we had an avant-gout this morning. There is always snow on St Pat's parade and we are still in March

  7. Ha ha ha, about the 35 hours, TB. There's is probably a grain of truth in what you say, however. Even if it were a 40-hour week, the people at the French weather service are fonctionnaires, after all. They probably don't work nights. Besides, people probably know to close their shutters in case rough weather comes in overnight.

  8. primroses and pooch gorgeous, thank you for posting such lovely pix.


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