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The Normans - Celebrating 100 years of recording rainfall in Jersey

Sophia with the Norman's private rainfall gauge in St Ouen Credit: ITV

For Mr and Mrs Norman, yesterday was a momentous day for generations of their family. It marked 100 years of recording rainfall in Jersey.

Mrs Norman collecting the rainfall yesterday Credit: Sophia Bird

Once a farming family, the recording of rainfall was vital for their tomato plants as the soil on their land in St Brelade was so sandy they needed to judge the amount of watering required on the land.

Over the years, many of these private farm sites, that recorded rainfall have disappeared, but the Normans have continued with what is not only a tradition, but also of great interest to Jersey Water, Jersey Met and UK Met Office.

Mrs Norman's Grandfather Credit: JEP

The first photographic evidence they have of their recording is on a hand drawn photograph of hand drawn weather chart dated 2nd January 2017, and a copy of this was given to the Normans, along with a barometer to thank them for their years of dedication and help.

Weather chart 1917 Credit: UK Met Office

The rainfall is collected in a glass bottle inside a copper instrument. The copper housing is a rarity now, as many were stolen due to the value of the material, and replaced with automated appliances. These automated instruments come with their own issues; such as ants and insects managing to enter the gauge, and mesh covers which try to obstruct them.

In the case of the Normans instrument, the copper outside is in superb condition and according to the UK Met officer present, a great example. The glass that collects the actual rainfall, inside, is infact an old orange bottle, but again Stuart Herridge from UK Met Office in Cardiff, said he has seen people use Chardonnay wine bottles as the collector in the UK!

The original copper rain gauge and glass bottle Credit: Sophia Bird

It was also interesting to hear about the occasion where, on one incredibly wet day, she went out in terrible conditions to ensure the reading was accurate, and recorded 55 mm of rainfall. She was concerned about spilling a drop!

The Met office said that this kind of data is used as data to explore climate change as well as allowing monthly recordings to be offered to their own records. The recording of rainfall on private land is something that is a dying art. Off camera, Mr and Mrs Norman said they would continue to get up and record the readings every morning at 9 am (UTC) 365 days a year if the Met office felt it was worth them doing so, and the immediate response from everyone present was that their commitment was greatly appreciated.

Stuart Herridge - UK Met representative, Helier Smith of Jersey Water, Mrs Norman, Paul Aked of Jersey Met Credit: Sophia Bird

I felt privileged to share in the occasion, which clearly moved Mrs Norman when she reflected that her Grandfather would never have believed how much his work would have been appreciated. After the ceremony, we warmed up with a coffee in the house, before Jersey Water invited them to a lunch to say thank you.

Mr and Mrs Norman with the personalised barometer and weather chart from UK Met Credit: Sophia Bird
Mr and Mrs Norman are thanked for their dedication Credit: ITV Channel

To watch the piece that I recorded at the time - just click below!