Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An Index of "Perfect Pleasant" Weather

I was reading through a recent post of Minnesota Weathertalk Blog by Mark Seeley, an Extension climatologist and meteorologist at the University of Minnesota when his mention of a "Camelot Climate Index" caught my attention.  There are a laundry list of indices used in meteorology and climatology of various types and purposes (Heat Index, Wind Chill Index, Southern Oscillation Index, lifted index, etc. etc.) but the "Camelot Climate Index" was a new one to me. Intrigued, I looked into it further.

The Camelot Climate Index attempts to identify locations with the "perfect pleasant climate", according to Jan Null, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist who developed the index. True to its name, the index was inspired by the lyrics to "Camelot" written by Alan Jay Lerner for the the 1960 musical. (Click image to see a larger version).

Null started thinking about such an index in the early 1990s, inspired by articles and rankings of the "best places to live". Most of these used the annual number of sunny days, which he felt fell short of truly defining a pleasant place to live. His idea of the ideal climate is sunny and relatively mild with few extremes in temperature, humidity or precipitation, and no snow. An interest in musical theater led to the connection with Camelot, and so he went on to develop the Camelot Climate Index using these variables.

The index is calculated using the 1981-2010 monthly average values of maximum and minimum temperature, average afternoon relative humidity, the number of days above 90 and below 32, precipitation, and sunshine data. He calculated weighting factors for the variables, and then subtracted the weighting values from 100 (100 represents "perfect" weather).

The resulting map of values indicates that the weather best meeting the criteria Null established extends from the Desert Southwest to and up the west coast. The highest index values (and thus the "perfect pleasant climate", as Null puts it) is along the California coast.

A complete description of the values and calculations used can be found on his Camelot Climate Index web page.

Null is the first to admit that the Camelot Climate Index is completely subjective because it's based on his perception of what makes the perfect climate - yours and mine may be different. Some time in the future he would like to construct a "variable" index that might be compiled for different perceptions of an "ideal climate".

We have been enjoying some beautiful (dare I say perfect?) late summer weather here in much of the Midwest this week. Skies have been mostly sunny, daytime highs in the 70s, overnight lows in the 50s, and no rain. While that's great weather for a week or three, to me at least, I don't think I could deal with it year round. I enjoy the four distinct seasons and the weather they produce. So while San Diego might be a great place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there. I have to have my snow and thunderstorms. Heck, even the song "Camelot" mentions snow.

1 comment:

  1. Great story Steve. Living here in the San Diego area does get boring some times !