Natural Weatherman Dies At 91

By Martin Wainwright
The Guardian - UK
One of the most respected amateur weather forecasters in Britain died yesterday after years of using moles, flies and seaweed to beat the Meteorological Office at its own game.
Bill Foggitt, who was 91 and the senior member of a Yorkshire pub discussion group nicknamed the Magic Circle, combined natural lore with an exceptional file of family records dating back to 1771 to make his forecasts.
A cloudburst which swept away part of the town of Yarm that year prompted his great-great-great-grandfather to start a diary which generations continued - partly, according to Mr Foggitt, "in the hope that we would eventually be able to predict catastrophes".
That duly happened with Mr Foggitt himself, to such an extent that for much of the 1980s his report, Foggitt's Forecast, was appended to Yorkshire Television weather bulletins and treated with great respect.
The forecaster, who died in Friarage hospital in North-allerton after a short illness, had hoped to be a Methodist minister but failed to get through the church's course.
He turned his imagination and easy, fluent manner to teaching, and spent his working life in South Yorkshire schools.
He retired because of ill health and converted his home in Thirsk, north Yorkshire, into a weather station.
Drawing on the family archive and his own astute observation, Mr Foggitt took forecasting far beyond the boundaries of cold fronts and isobars.
The closing of pines cones almost always preceded wet weather, he deduced, and flies were likely to behave sluggishly before thunderstorms.
He once appeared on television and had a column in several newspapers, gathering a network of fellow-enthusiasts who added to his stock of weather lore.
Mr Foggitt, a widower without children, was extremely popular in Thirsk, where he was one of the main visitor attractions before the arrival of literary vet James Herriott.
Mike Cresswell, his biographer, said: "He was an all-round good guy. He taught us that for all science's advances, the everyday behaviour of nature remains one of the best guides to predicting the weather. But he was never interested in money.
"As long as he had enough in his pocket to get his pint at the Three Tuns with the Magic Circle, he was happy."
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