Glenlivet Trades Manual Weather Spotters for Radar and Satellites

Scotch distillers often tout the handcrafting that goes into their whiskies. Now Glenlivet reports it is replacing people with an automated system in one of its most critical tasks: weather spotting.

In an era of Google Maps and Yahoo weather services, the timing of this is almost too hard to believe. The full release is quoted below, including a tribute to the distillery’s longest serving weather-spotter, Mrs. Rachel Williams, who retired in 1996.

5th August 2008

For more than 50 years information about the weather has been gathered manually at Glenlivet, as one of a network of voluntarily manned stations collecting meteorological data to help with regional and national forecasting.

Now these diligent weather watchers are to be replaced by automatic systems involving high-tech radar and satellite imagery.

Glenlivet’s longest serving weather monitor is Mrs Rachel Williams, who kept watch from her back garden in the village from 1962 to 1996. Ten times a day between 8am and 9pm (9am to 10pm during British summertime), for 34 years, Rachel would log the temperature, sunlight, rain- or snowfall, wind direction, cloud cover etc, and telephone her findings through to the local Met Office. This essential daily routine was interrupted by just three weeks holiday a year.

It was Rachel’s late husband Jack, a former RAF navigator (and later a tour guide at the Glenlivet Distillery) who put her up for the job. It meant going on a short course to learn how to keep abreast of the vagaries of the British climate. Years later, the Met Office supplied Rachel with a laptop so that she could dispense with the spate of daily phonecalls.

Weather wise, Glenlivet is an exciting place to be. Rachel was frequently interviewed on radio and television as the local authority on “the coldest place in Britain”. One April, she recalls, “the ice was so thick on the road that they had to use a pneumatic drill to break it up.”

In 1998, two years after she retired, Rachel was proud to be awarded the MBE for “Services to the Meteorological Office.”

Glenlivet’s unruly weather plays a crucial part in the making of its famous whisky, so connoisseurs will be glad to know that the forecast couldn’t be better. For The Glenlivet, that is.

~ by whisky1 on August 25, 2008.

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