Mike Lewis, manager of the weather centre, shares why he became interested in the weather...
"My interest in Geography, and in meteorology in particular, stems from my childhood upbringing on the west coast of Wales in the small coastal community of Dyffryn Ardudwy. Accepting the fickle nature of the elements was part of life, especially in an environment where mountains roll down to the sea. The weather would rapidly change from a fine sunny morning, to gale force winds and torrential rain by late afternoon. Here you definitely would see four seasons in one day. I remember being fascinated by how the weather could change within a short distance from the sea, especially in winter. Snow in the village was a rarity thanks to the mild breeze off Cardigan Bay, but Snowdon would always be wearing her winter coat.
I studied Geography at Leeds University, and meteorology and climatology were key components of this. I became particularly interested in Quaternary studies and how climatology can effect how landscapes evolve. Ice can have such a powerful and long-lasting impact on the natural landscape, but every climate zone has distinct processes that bring about change.
I joined Pitsford School, formerly Northamptonshire Grammar School, in 1991 becoming Head of Geography in 1993. Having built up the Geography department in what was a very young school I helped a group of enthusiastic Sixth Form pupils set up the weather station in 1998. [See 'Origins' for more information on the origins and early history of the weather station.]
In addition to my interest in the weather, I am a keen amateur geologist. I studied geology as part of my degree in Geography. Again, my early fascination for the history locked up in rocks and the landscape stems from growing up in an area geologists refer to as the Harlech Dome, an enclave of some of the most ancient rocks in the British Isles. Nothing could beat a good trek up into the Rhinog hills where it's possible to very quickly get off the beaten track and come face to face with nature in her raw splendour. Unsurprisingly, it is the link with weather that I find so interesting and how stratigraphy can provide a hard analogue record of quite extraordinary changes in past climate.
My greatest passion is, however, sharing my interest in Geography, the weather and geology with children of all ages. I am very much a 'hands on' teacher, keen on fieldwork and practical activities to engage pupils and stimulate natural curiosity. Seeing is believing was my own experience and I believe strongly that pupils learn best by understanding rather than simply being told.
I am often asked if I will go back to Wales one day and I would be lying if I said I didn't have a particular area in mind - no prizes for guessing where! However, in the meantime Northamptonshire is not a bad place to live. What the county lacks in stunning mountain and coastal scenery, it makes up for in the variety of its weather. The county may well be amongst the driest in the UK, but it has enough going for it weatherwise to keep me on my guard as a local forecaster!"