Tuesday, July 3, 2012

All Summer in a Day

If you hadn't heard, Ray Bradbury passed away recently at the age of 92. Since his not wholly unexpected demise, I learned that he only ever acknowledged Fahrenheit 451 as being science fiction, since it was the only story that could come true. All others he considered fantasy, despite being quoted as saying, "The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance; the idea that anything is possible."

One of my favourite short stories I've ever read was written by Ray Bradbury and shared its title with this post, or rather the title of this post was posthumously plagiarised from his short story. If you haven't read it, do. You can download a PDF here. If that doesn't work, try Google, or whatever replacement exists in the dystopian future you currently live in where anarchy rules and Dropbox links no longer work. Don't come back to this post until you've read it; it won't make sense and I might ruin the ending.

So, for those who have read it, which should be anyone reading this far down the post, you will remember that it is a very sad story about a poor girl who, through an unintentional consequence of school bullying, misses a very, very rare event. That event is, of course, a break in the clouds and a brief glimpse of sunshine. Well, I wish to present to you evidence that Ray Bradbury was wrong about his stories being fantasy. For you see, we live in a city that over the past year has begun to resemble a certain Venusian settlement in more ways than a rising bully population.

In the past 12 months, Auckland has been subjected to 41.3 days of constant rain. Not 'constant' constant, but if you add up every rainy hour, that's what you get. That means it's been raining 11.3% of the past 12 months. So what, you say, that's 324.6 days of glorious sunshine. Au contraire, my arithmeticulous friend, the sun doth not shine at night. But you're right, 11.3% might not be that bad. Rain a bit at night, concentrate it over winter and voila; nice, long dry periods for all those outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the rain wasn't concentrated. It's been spread so thinly that we have actually had more rainy days than dry ones. A depressing 51.7% of the last 366 days have had at least 0.2 mm of rain (the minimum rainfall measurement at Auckland Airport). As you can see here, March and April have been the only months recently to buck this average, with January barely scraping above the bar.

In fact, as you can see from the graph to follow, the longest stretch of consecutive dry days we've had is 12 days. That's not even a fortnight without a bit of rain. And that stretch was in April, when all us working schmucks were safely tucked up in our office chairs. In the summer months preceding that the longest dry spell was a mere week.

I don't have time to go into long-term means, or rabble on about how this most likely has nothing to do with climate change. It'll probably all get better, we're due for a good run, blah, blah etc... There's nothing anyone can do about it, I just think of poor Margot every time I look up from my computer and see a break in the clouds and a glimpse of sunshine

I guess then, my point is this: the weather is miserable, you have every right to bitch and moan and if you have any school-aged children locked in your cupboard, there's no hurry to let them out just yet.

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