decolonising our weather: what is actually going on

Previously on decolonising our weather: hello and welcome to spring (not spring), a look at seasons defined by Traditional Owners in Perth (Nyoongar) and over East (Kulin and Wurundjeri).

This week on decolonising our weather: how to read what the BoM is telling you, rather than saying to me ‘wow, it’s hot for Autumn, isn’t it?’ Mate, it’s still March, we had a late warm spell, it’s not even Waring Wombats Season, what more do you want.

The four seasons are an artificial colonial imposition upon us in Australia, no matter your town or city or region. When you say trite things like ‘it’s hot for Autumn’ in March, which is still a part of the hottest time of the year, or ‘it’s dry for Spring’ in October in Perth, what you’re saying is, ‘My mind has accepted the artificial imposition of seasons by the British, people who wouldn’t know hot weather if it slapped them in the face, and it did.’

Look, that’s fine! I don’t blame you. We’ve been brought up this way, it’s ridiculous, all of us are susceptible to its insidiousness. It’s nice to divide the year neatly up into four pieces! It’s just wrong, is all.

This wrongness results in going out without an umbrella and getting saturated on a day with 90% chance of rain; wearing heavy layers on a 31C March day (last week, Melbourne); deciding not to cycle because the 7am sky is overcast but it clears to a beautiful, stunning day.

So today, my Quokkas, we are learning how to understand what the Bureau of Meteorology is trying to tell us, and how to read your weather app.

We will be using WeatherAU and the BoM website, because that’s what No Award uses. WeatherAu takes its data directly from BoM, and is as accurate as an Aussie in Australia can get. Don’t use apps that don’t take from BoM, just don’t do it, your little Aussie heart will cry when it’s inaccurate.

Using the BoM website


Here’s your basics of ‘what is happening today‘. You have to take into account the chances of rain and also how much rain there will be. Zero mm with 20% chance of rain, for our purposes, means that I haven’t brought any rain gear with me today. Even though it’s overcast. That combination has left me feeling confident enough to go without. It’s important to look at both.

The wind tells me how likely it is that I’m going to cycle. 15 to 20 km/h is totally doable. I’ll probably look at the wind radars later in the day, but I don’t have any problems with that.

You see tomorrow is a 50% chance of rain with zero to one mm. The wind is 15 to 20 km/h. That combination means I’ll definitely cycle tomorrow, but I’ll bring my raincoat, and I’ll check my app before I get out of bed in the morning.

On a day with rain forecast, I always check the radar before I go anywhere.

Using your weather app

I find the app more useful to me, because it’s condensed all the information that I need.

Here we are with an example of why you need to consult your weather app. It’s not extreme, although we’ve had times when I’ve been in Black Rock and Liz has been in the CBD and it has been RAINY and WET and WINDY and COLD in Black Rock and it’s been perfectly pleasant in the CBD.

But even on a hot, humid, sticky day, 20km apart in the same city, it’s both cooler and with a higher UV in Black Rock (and, surprisingly, less windy?) than it is in the CBD.

What Is Even Happening

Understanding how the weather in your local area works is important to preparing your house for a hot day, keeping your companion animals in a safe situation, and enabling you to leave your house and be appropriate for the weather. To just assume that it’s March, therefore it’s Autumn, and therefore it’s going to be cold creates a problem for you, and is definitely going to be misleading for your brain as we move into our climate change future.

Climate change is affecting our seasons, but even when it doesn’t, the four seasons don’t apply. Hopefully the BoM will still be with us in our climate change future, but decolonialising your brain when it comes to weather, and becoming weather literate in local Indigenous seasons, will help you in that.