MADRID – Jorge Rey is Spain’s youngest meteorologist. Last year he already predicted that Spain would have to deal with a heavy snowstorm. That became storm Filomena, which covered a large part of the country under a thick layer of snow in January this year.
The storm caused chaos, jammed cars, closed airports, and a lot of damage, especially for farmers. How did Jorge Rey know this storm was coming? The 14-year-old has been predicting the weather since he was a little boy, using the traditional method used by farmers over the centuries. Lately, he has also been doing this on the local radio station Radio Espinosa Merindades, in his hometown of Monasterio de Rodilla in Burgos.
Age-old ‘cabañuelas method’
The boy is able to make good predictions without needing any modern technological means. He uses the traditional method of the ‘cabañuelas’, a set of ancestral methods of meteorological forecasting, which is characteristic of central and southern Spain. The cabañuelas method consists of observing nature in great detail during the first 24 days of August. They look at the shapes of the clouds, their evolution, the position of the stars, the wind, and even the behaviour of the animals. ‘I use everything I see,’ explains Jorge.
To calculate the time, each day from August 1 to 12 corresponds to a month of the following year. And the same thing happens from August 13 to 24. In the first two weeks, the first day corresponds to the month of August, the second to September, and so on until the 12th (July). The second fifteen days serve to further refine the predictions and work in reverse order: August 13 is for July, June 14, and so on until August 24.
Jorge was seven years old when his fascination for nature and its behaviour began. ‘I observed the flight of birds, the insects…’ says the young meteorologist who has become an expert in the technique of the ‘cabañuelas’.
His teacher was Rafa, the shepherd of Monasterio de Rodilla who taught him the most important clue to predict whether the coming spring will be rainy or not. ‘On August 2 you lift stones and if they have water, there will also be a lot of water in the spring,’ explains the old shepherd to whom Jorge owes much of his knowledge.
Weather forecast for 2022
After many hours of observing the moisture of the stones and analysing the evolution of the clouds and the flight of the birds, Jorge takes notes on a paper and then predicts the weather for 2022. A year with a very changeable climate according to Jorge’s forecast. “We expect a harsh winter, a rainy spring, and an unstable summer,” says the young meteorologist.
Jorge Rey has correctly predicted storm Filomena and now we will have to wait at least until 2022 to see if this guy is right again. While Jorge admits that the cabañuelas method has not been scientifically tested and, like many more modern methods, it can be wrong, he claims to have his own techniques to prevent this.