Episode 10 – Weather

I’m pretty much addicted to the weather app on my phone. Even though I could (and do) just look out the window, or open the door, I invariably go to the app to look at the hour-by-hour forecast before planning my wardrobe and our day.

When planning where we are going to live throughout the year, though, that daily weather app just doesn’t give us enough information.

Our priority when choosing a winter destination is simply “no snow”, but, without having contacts all over the world and with a penchant for long term planning, we need a reasonably reliable way to determine which destinations meet that criteria.

My current favourite weather resource is https://weatherspark.com/countries

The site allows you to drill down from continent to country to city and then see average high and low temperatures for each month, average hourly temperatures for a typical day in a given month, humidity (rated as dry, comfortable, humid, muggy, oppressive and miserable!), precipitation data, hours of sunlight, wind and water temperature, even growing season info (!), and then recommends the best “tourist time”….. which you might want to avoid if you don’t like crowds!

For instance, if we were looking at Faro, Portugal over the winter months, I could see that temperatures rarely fall below 40F (no ice!) and “The cool season lasts for 3.8 months, from November 22 to March 17, with an average daily high temperature below 66°F. The coldest day of the year is January 21, with an average low of 47°F and high of 61°F.” That suits us, so puts Faro in the running as a winter destination. The rainfall, sun/cloud and wind stats also fit our needs.

As an accuracy check, when I started this blog post on on October 24,2018 Myrtle Beach was sunny, with a high of 68F (20C) and a low of 48F (10C) with about 20% cloud cover. Weather Spark’s averages suggested a high of 70F, low of 50F and “On October 27, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 66% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 34% of the time.” That’s pretty good statistical predicting!

While all of the data is aggregated averages, and any given year can be exceptional, the site does paint a pretty thorough picture. It does not include the more unpredictable extreme weather events, so some extra personal research is still needed before booking airline tickets or housing. For instance, Weatherspark suggests “the best times of year to visit Myrtle Beach for general outdoor tourist activities are from mid April to early June and from late September to late October, with a peak score in the second week of May” but North Americans know that September and October are the tail end of hurricane season……

Anyway….. back to the point. Weather can make or break a one week vacation, but our longer stays allow us to defer activities that get rained out.

It can be chilly in South Carolina. A brisk wind off the Atlantic can send us scurrying for gloves, scarves and hats, and we each pack a “just in case” winter jacket that can be rolled into a corner of our suitcase, but there is no snow to shovel and no ice to make sidewalks treacherous. (Well, there were those 2 days in January 2017 when temps hit a 15 year low, but everyone who could stayed indoors until it melted.)

While Myrtle Beach in January is not for everyone, February is pretty nice, and March and April will be sunny and spectacular.

We hope May back in Ontario will be too!

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