The variety in the weather sites fascinates me and the forecasts themselves tend to say a lot about the people who write them. Take the Met office on the MIA site. Surely the weather reports there are written by decent people who take pains to comfort the population into thinking that extreme weather hardly exists. Their warnings invariably concern strong winds, possibly because that might jeopardise aircraft. I started to distrust the MIA weather people when their site failed to issue warnings of a rare medicane that hit the islands late last year. It was one of those rare events when it should have been shouting in big bold letters: Stay at home unless absolutely necessary!... Trees are coming down like matchsticks!.. The end of the world could very well be nigh!... Bah – nothing of the sort. Sorry guys but I could have gone out for a stroll round the village and have three metres off the top of the American Ambassador’s residence largest pine tree falling on my head. Actually their weather radar gives me much more information on possible calamities than they are ready to divulge themselves.
Then there is the Civil Protection Department – well at least that is what it’s called. The CPD hardly ever issues warnings of coming storms but helpfully it does tell you to stay home immediately the deluge ends, just about the time that the floods at Msida are starting to recede. I really don’t know what it is with these people. In my mind they are the authority to be issuing such warnings in advance but their performance in this is sadly lacking. My gut feeling remains that they prefer the gung-ho business of rescuing people rather than warn them not to put themselves in a position where they might need rescuing in the first place. Lately the CPD was asked whether they have plans for a possible tsunami and they replied in the affirmative. You guys were joking right?
Then there are two popular local weather pages on Facebook. One boasts of being the original Facebook weather page for the Maltese Islands while the other makes no such claims but is smugly more popular. Both provide a decent service but both love hyperbole and sadly (and so typically Maltese) they love nothing more than taking digs at each other, with snide references to what ‘another weather page’ might or might not be predicting. When bad weather is coming they invariably go ballistic and when such predicted apocalypse fails to hit you can almost feel their disappointment. Clearly these pages have some aversion to good weather but then again it must be the doomsday scenarios that bring in the likes and shares.
But the local weather Facebook pages are the good guys in comparison with the pure evil (yes I did say pure evil there) of the moronic Italian site Meteoweb. I suspect that this site became popular locally when it predicted a hurricane over Malta a few years back. People were talking about it in hushed tones but in the event nothing much happened. A meteorological apocalypse over Malta is predicted on a regular basis, though they did predict one exceptionally strong storm with uncanny accuracy a few years back, while the MET office was benignly predicting a welcome September shower. But most of the other times they have reported that Malta was in ginocchio, they were way off the mark. Frankly the last time I remember Malta in ginocchio was when a large vehicle hit the pedestrian bridge in Marsa and got Malta well and truly gridlocked for hours on end. Obviously the CPD, in full readiness for the next tsunami, never saw that coming.
Meteoweb did it again a couple of weeks back when an impressive water spout over Grand Harbour was reported as a tornado leaving behind it ‘numerosi feriti’. Needless to say this caused some panic among Italians having relatives holidaying here and despite many Maltese logging on their FB page to reassure concerned Italians, the site kept insisting it had ‘proof’ of this. Naturally the Maltese reaction then descended rapidly into vaffanculo territory…
Meteoweb seems to be a site which absolutely delights in announcing the end of the world via its weather updates on a daily basis. Honest – not a day passes without an Allerta Meteo; they will invariably find a small corner of Italy where meteorological fire and brimstone are on the cards. Their vocabulary is apocalyptic and their use of phrases like fenomeni intensi, incubo, allarme, maltempo estremo is all over the place. If a week of sunny weather is on the way they will look closer into their dark crystal ball and announce that the week after there will be more incubi and fenomeni. Worse than that, when one of their many dire predictions does come about with fatal consequences (which invariably it will), their delight in blaming authorities for not heeding their warnings is revolting. I’ve seen reports where the site’s administrators mocked this or that mayor for ignoring their warnings and shedding ‘crocodile tears’ after some weather related tragedy. When a spell of (obviously abnormal) prolonged fair weather threatens the site’s very raison d’etre, the miserable misanthropists who run this site turn elsewhere – reporting anything from plane crashes, Ebola outbreaks, forest fires in California, or a deadly monsoon in Bangladesh – the latter usually heralded by the number of deaths with exclamation marks to go with it. The bad taste is palpable. This site that promotes itself as meteo e scienza is nothing more than weather-as-porn in fact. I suspect it’s all done to get site clicks for increased advert revenue but it sure is a nasty way of earning a living.
So what to do for a fair warning of bad weather with so many sites flying around? I’ve found that a combination of the no-nonsense ilmeteo.it , MIA’s weather radar (assuming one can read that – it’s fairly easy) and a dose of the normally sensible (bar the liberal use of exclamation marks) Gozo Weather page are a good bet on when the next round of the apocalypse is likely to strike.