Madeleine – Luz weather station 12.37

I discussed whether there was a weather station in Luz with my last tour visitor. The data being presented in support of this idea can be shown to come from the Faro weather station, while there is a weather station much closer to Luz in Sagres. Paulo Rebelo requested the local weather for 3 and 4 May 2007, but when the weather forecasters asked for around €300 for this data, he seems to have declined to take it further.

This November 2016 I decided to try a little experiment. I decided to record the local weather in Luz each day at 12.37. I am recording the temperature (in the shade), the degree of cloud cover, the wind direction and strength. There have been successes and what I can best describe as opportunities to learn.

Lest anyone should think I have lost my marbles, please remember the role that weather plays in the disappearance of Madeleine.

There is the weather experienced by the Tapas 9 and others on that fateful evening of 3 May 2007. There is the question of Tannerman carrying a child without using a blanket. That is followed by Kate’s whooshing curtains and clunking door. And around the same time there is Smithman, also with a child without a blanket.

If you are curious as to where the 12.37 comes in, here is the explanation. Portugal is in exactly the same time zone as the UK. When UK clocks went back in late October, so did Portuguese clocks, to maintain synchronicity. At Greenwich, the sun is overhead and due south at 12 noon. But Luz is further west than Greenwich, and the Earth has to rotate for a further 37 minutes, until it is due south here at 12.37. I can then use the sun as a compass when I am trying to work out wind direction.

It is time to look at what I have learned from this little experiment.

First, trying to remember that 12.37 is approaching and I need to take the readings is not a robust system. I have had ‘wobble factors’ of an hour and a half.

Second, buildings are a major source of interference in working out wind direction. If I stand near our villa, I get how the wind is being channelled rather than the true wind direction. Were Kate’s curtains/door from channelled wind?

Third, a once a day reading is well nigh useless. At 12.38 today, I recorded 90% sun. Within about an hour it clouded over considerably, and now at 16.00 it is 100% overcast and raining. I have been using the video of the McCanns being taken by car for interview #1 on the morning of 4 May as an indicator of the weather the evening before, but my experiment has proved how dangerous this is.

In the same vein, anyone promoting data that does not come from a proper, automated data gathering weather station is promoting rubbish. I might as well keep a diary and rely on my memory of how the day went. I got a lot of vitamin D on my trip to Spar this morning, and I’m glad I chose to go then, because if I was out in it now, I’d be wet, cold and miserable.

Fourth, I have learned that nature can help. My chosen spot away from the house has a couple of clumps of bulrushes. Compared with wetting my finger and doing a 360° turn the bulrushes are much better at telling me the wind direction.

It may that when we move I will buy an automated weather station, given that I now understand the basics of weather monitoring, and the futility of manual checks. Goodness only knows we will have a huge expanse of garden on which we are permitted to do very little. I don’t think I need permission for a small weather station.


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