MADRID – Since the then-14-year-old weather expert Jorge Rey was right with his prediction of heavy snowstorms in January 2021, Spanish media follow everything he says about the weather and meteorological phenomena.
This boy from Monasterio de Rodilla (Burgos) is referred to as the young weather expert who also correctly predicted the storm, Filomena. Of course, that could also have been a coincidence. A meteorologist affiliated with the Spanish weather agency Aemet once explained why statements by people who rely on the cabañuelas method should not be taken too seriously. In any case, it has little to do with science.
The supposed “method” on which Jorge Rey’s predictions are based stems from an ancient tradition of shepherds. By paying attention to aspects of nature such as the clouds, the wind direction, precipitation, morning dew, whether they see a rainbow, or even the position of the sun, moon and stars; and combining this with other conditions such as the behaviour of animals, people and even smells from society; they are said to be able to predict the weather for the whole year in a few days (traditionally from August 1 to August 24).
With their scepticism about Jorge Rey’s method, meteorologists certainly do not want to call into question the observation and interpretation skills of herdsmen and farmers. For example, they see a descending herd from the highest peaks as an omen of an upcoming snow shower. Only the time factor is very important in this regard.
There are elements of observation of the atmosphere by rural people that are useful to see what will happen in the coming days, but the observation of 24 days in the month of August certainly cannot predict what will happen throughout the year. Rubén del Campo, a meteorologist at the National Weather Agency (Aemet), is also adamant on this point, once telling EFE: “It is impossible to predict an extreme weather phenomenon like ‘Filomena’ in the long term.” Once again, Aemet responded on Twitter. In an article by Elindependiente.es about Jorge Rey’s latest forecast, the weather institute says: “And that while Aemet has warned on several occasions about the danger of paying attention to these kinds of forecasts, which can sometimes cost human lives.”
Yet the 16-year-old from Burgos ventures again with a prediction, and also one that goes against what the experts expect. Now he is firmly convinced that there will not be little rainfall, but that waterspouts will hit the country. He bases that science on his observations of the behaviour of flying ants. “The flying ants behaved abnormally last summer, they left early and that indicates that this summer could be wetter than usual.” They also moved faster, which would indicate more precipitation.
Falling temperatures and rain
According to Jorge Rey’s announcement, the month of July is a time of harvesting in many fields. However, the farmers will not have it easy, because “it will go crazy again”. Last week first showed high temperatures, characteristic of a stifling summer, from this weekend maximum temperatures will drop to 36 degrees in Seville, while on the Cantabrian coast, they may not exceed 20 degrees. Temperatures are higher again, especially towards the second half of the month, but with more moisture in the air and showers in the Mediterranean area.
The reason for this sudden weather change? A depression that would reach the Iberian Peninsula, hitting the net, which would bring rain to the far north of the country. However, the prediction contrasts with the data from the Aemet. It predicts ‘absolute temperature records’ of up to 45 degrees in Seville from Sunday 9 July, rising to 47 degrees on Wednesday 12 July. Will Jorge Rey and his ‘cabañuelas’ be right this time? Or will the credit go to scientific meteorology?