Red Sky Delight Is Just So Right; Simon Keeling Is the World's First Doctor of Broadcasting Meteorology. Jo Ind Discovers That He Is a Man Happy to Have His Head in the Clouds

The Birmingham Post (England), May 27, 2009 | Go to article overview

Red Sky Delight Is Just So Right; Simon Keeling Is the World's First Doctor of Broadcasting Meteorology. Jo Ind Discovers That He Is a Man Happy to Have His Head in the Clouds


Byline: Jo Ind

imon Keeling is the world's first Doctor of Broadcasting Meteorology. He was awarded his doctorate by Birmingham University, where he still teaches.

Nonetheless, one day when he was working a night shift as a forecaster and had masses of confusing data coming in, he fell back on the adage: "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight" - and got it right.

"Now there's an admission for you," says Simon, who is aged 37 and lives in Wombourne, Staffordshire. But he takes no shame in making an incredibly complex subject simple. Communicating the weather is his passion.

"The problem is that it's a science, so it can come across as a very stuffy subject," he says. "I've been trying to make it accessible to people, whether it's simple taking a look outside and saying: 'I wonder what's going on with that cloud?' of more than that. I want to explain the weather story." Simon has just written The Pocket Weather Forecaster, a book about how to forecast by looking at clouds.

"I wanted to write something that anybody could pick up and read," he says.

"It's a nice, simple book. You flick through the pages, spot the picture of the clouds and it tells them what weather will come." But why would anybody want to forecast the weather for themselves, when it has never been easier to get information from the media? "The British have a passion for the weather," says Simon. "It's the great British obsession. It's the first thing the majority of us think about when we wake up in the morning. We draw back the curtains. If it's raining it makes you feel miserable before you've even turned on the radio. If it's sunny outside it cheers you up straight way.

"It goes deep into the British psyche.

No two days are the same weather-wise.

It's like living in an ever changing canvas.

We feel it all the time and because of that, we want to understand it." So Simon had written books and even set up his own weather school so that people can better understand this thing that affects them so greatly.

He says the Midlands has some of the most varied weather in the country.

"One of the reasons the British are so obsessed with the weather is because of its changeability," he says. "There aren't that many places that are stuck out in the middle of an ocean, with the such a high population witnessing the changes in the weather every single day..

"Britain has a very varied landscape, which makes the weather more variable too. That's why the Midlands is one of the most changeable places weatherwise in the country. I went gliding at the top of Long Mynd in Shropshire on Sunday.

When I left Wombourne, it was 14C.

When I got to Long Mynd it was 4C with sleet and snow.

"A lot of the time I don't understand why it's doing what it's doing. I'm trying to understand exactly why it's doing something. The more I learn about it, the more I realise how little I actually know." Simon did not study meteorology by following the conventional route, namely A-levels in maths, physics and geography, a degree and then a masters in meteorology. …

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