Madeleine – weather front 28 April 2018

On Wednesday 2nd May 2007, a weather front swept across Luz, from West to East. Tennis lessons were postponed. Gerry and Kate McCann went to the Millennium for coffee with Fiona, David and Dianne.

On Saturday 28 April 2018, a weather front is predicted to sweep across Luz. Here it is in 8 maps.

The first is at 01:00, when everything looks completely clear.

In the second at 04.00, there are the first signs of the front, in the Atlantic to the north of Portugal.

By 07.00 the wet weather is building in the Atlantic.

10.00 I still have time to walk Gonçalo.

Because this is what it looked like in Portelas at 10 am. Earlier this morning, we had thin cloud, lots of sunshine, no wind and it was still sunbathing weather. Now it is clouding over a lot and the wind is picking up.

At 13.00, the weather front is nearing Porto and Lisbon but Luz is still clear.

It is 18.00 and the weather front is over the north of Portugal, but it still hasn’t hit the south. In reality, we have been getting rain for some time.

And this is when it supposedly hits the south.

The final graphic is when the front clears out to the north-east. 24.00.

By way of contrast, here is the webcam image outside the Habana on the beach front at Luz. It was taken at 10 past 6, 27 April 2018. It was sunshine, a clear azure sky and no sign of any incoming weather front.

I hope to track and compare the weather here in Portelas and compare it to the Luz webcam and the forecast, in the run-up to the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

There is a serious point to this.. The weather conditions around apartment 5A shortly after 10 pm are critical. The issue is whether I can work out exactly what was going on, or not.

Saturday, 28 April 2007 was when Madeleine touched down at Faro with her family, then transferred to the Ocean Club.

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Madeleine v Clouds

I got interested in clouds when looking at various photos and videos of the time shortly before and shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared.

I was trying to work out if you can determine anything from them, absolutely anything, about the weather.

Wind direction and speed is the one that really fires me up, but how about location, date, time of day, sun position, temperature, and of course clouds.

Here is today’s piccy of the clouds across Portelas.

I thought “It’s going to rain”, so I scuttled about trying to sort everything necessary out before the downpour. Except it didn’t rain. The clouds have disappeared and we now have a pristine blue sky.

This tells you how much I know about how the weather works.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” Joni Mitchell.

Madeleine – weather station Luz

I am in the process of conducting a practical experiment in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance. It is weather station Luz.

I started this at the beginning of Nov 2016, with a simple aim. I wanted to check how well the weather in Luz correlates with the weather as logged at Faro to the east and Sagres to the west. If there is a high degree of correlation, it means the historical weather logs can be used as an accurate description of weather in Luz around 3 May 2007. And if not, it becomes clear that positing a connection on these records does not stand up to scrutiny.

In the beginning, I was collecting data at 12.37pm. This was the time of day when the sun was at its highest over Luz, giving me an accurate indication of due south.

Portuguese time is identical to UK time in winter and in summer, and the clocks go forward and back at precisely the same time. To all intents and purposes, weather station Luz is on UK time.

In winter, the sun is due south of Greenwich at 12 mid-day. Luz is roughly 8° west of Greenwich. The Earth rotates at 15° per hour. So the sun is due south of Luz at 8/15ths of an hour after mid-day.

Inserting accurate figures, the sun marks due south at 12.37pm in Luz in winter. When we move to Portelas, we are heading somewhat east, at the sun will be due south at 12.35pm.

In summer, these times become 1.37pm in Luz and 1.35pm at our new home.

The data I am collecting is temperature in the shade, wind direction, wind speed (including whether it is subject to gusts) and cloud or haze cover.

When the clocks moved forward, I realised I could improve my experiment by collecting data at 10pm, to see how well evening weather in Luz matches up with the Faro and Sagres weather stations.

A number of significant things have emerged from this experiment.

The weather at 1.37pm is not the best predictor of weather at 10pm on the same day. It can be raining at lunchtime and dry in the evening, or more often vice-versa. The most significant pattern change is that the wind has dropped on nearly every evening. Even when there is a medium wind with gusts at lunchtime, a typical evening pattern is very gentle breeze with very few gusts.

Yesterday, we had a bit of an oddity at lunchtime. Over the land, the sky was 100% clear. Over the sea, the sky was completely cloudy. I logged the 1.37pm temperature as 27°C in the shade, much higher than it has been since my records began. I suspect most of the moisture in the earth of the Algarve has already been burned off, explaining the lack of clouds over the land, whereas the high temperature was evaporating water from the sea to form clouds.

There is one factor in this experiment that I have not emulated. Luz is much like an inverted half-cone, with the sea at the bottom replacing the missing half. My weather station Luz is at the top of the cone i.e. at the top of a hill network that nearly surrounds Luz. Apartment 5A is much closer to the bottom than the top, and that is going to lead to a difference in weather re wind speed. I need to take some measurements close to block 5 around 10pm, as 3 May 2017 approaches.

I have not yet cross-checked my measurements against those of Faro and Sagres. I don’t want to introduce potential bias by tweaking my measuring routine and method. I do not expect to understand the value of weather station Luz until the time we move from Luz to Portelas. At the moment, this looks very much like being after 3 May 2017, as the builders have not yet started on our slice of the house.

Once we have moved, I intend to repeat this experiment in Portelas. This is mere curiosity and has nothing to do with the Madeleine McCann story. Portelas is a fair way inland compared to Luz, and I would like to know how well weather station Portelas correlates with the official stations at Faro and Sagres.