Sunday, March 26, 2017
   
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Polish Weather - Any Reason to Complain?

Weather is a common subject of conversation not only in England but also in Poland. The weather broadcast, especially the one after a main TV evening news program was probably the most watched program during communism. People watched it more than the news preceding it. The most popular weathermen were the real celebrities in Poland. They even had their nicknames: "Wicherek", meaning in Polish small windstorm and "Chmurka" - small cloud.

Although these weather people possessed good knowledge of meteorology and had pleasant personalities, it was hard to trust their predictions. It was even said that it was safer to assume that the weather the next day would be the same that the weather the day before than to rely on any weather broadcast from the weather stations. The weather broadcast in Poland is so unpredictable that the mayor of one Polish town in Southwestern part of Poland threatened to sue a local weather station because it did not alert about upcoming torrential rains which caused disastrous floods in 1997.

One of the reasons - Poland is situated between two climate zones and Polish weather is influenced either by maritime climate from the Atlantic Ocean on the West or by the continental climate from Russia on the East. As a result Poland's weather tends to be capricious and for the same season weather may differ a lot from year to year. Additionally the warm foehn type of dry wind from the Carpathian mountains blowing from the South, so called Halny, brings all sort of psychological and health problems.

Popular Polish bard, Kazik in his song entitled "Four Rooms" sings that Poles are in the state of total depression because there is no sun for seven months in the year and the summer is not always hot. The limited sunshine in Poland influenced even the architecture. Royal Castle in Krakow has larger windows than its Italian archetype to let more sun in.

Does weather in Poland provide so much reasons to complain? It depends. Poland is definitively not a dreamland for tourists who would like to spend their days on the beach in the full sun for several days. We have many cloudy and rainy days. But Poland and Europe in general are very suitable for agriculture. Natural disasters are rare, although any news about it are amplified because of the position of Europe in the world and also its high population density.

Poles do not really know what hot or cold weather is. The temperatures above 100 F are almost unheard of. Poles are unfamiliar with sudden changes in temperatures so common in America. In both Americas, the north-south orientation of the mountains acts as a barrier to oceanic air masses and allows the easy flow of continental air from polar North to tropical South and vice-versa. In Europe the oceanic air masses can penetrate further inland, moderating the climate of a much larger region. The mountain chains of the Alps and Carpathians run west to east preventing the easy air flow from North to South.

European farming could develop successfully before modern methods of irrigation and melioration were known because of sufficient rain and mild climate. To the contrary, the climate in America is harsher for agriculture. Here in Southeastern Idaho where I live sagebrush is the most common vegetation of this arid and sunny climate. Famous Idaho potatoes without modern methods of irrigation would be impossible to grow. So, it is really difficult to please both, tourists and farmers, because they have different requirements for the "good" weather.

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