Episode 16 Weather Watchers with Barra Best


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Episode 16

Barra Best experiences how the climate shapes people's lives and discovers that while nothing can be done to change the weather, people can use it to their advantage.


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I'm in County Fermanagh at the foothills of the Cuilcagh mountains

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and making my way to the Marble Arch Caves.

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-Michelle.

-Hello, how are you?

-How are you? God, that's some walk!

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SHE LAUGHS Great weather for it, though, isn't it?

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-Yes. Are you ready to go underground?

-I am indeed. Let's go.

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-If you want to follow me, we'll head on in.

-Perfect.

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'Michelle's going to be my guide through this fascinating

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'natural underworld of waterfalls, rivers, caves and winding passages.

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'It's beautiful and brilliant.'

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We're deep below Fermanagh and you may be forgiven for thinking

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that the weather above won't affect us, but it does.

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Yes, it does. The rainwater that falls on Cuilcagh Mountain,

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it's actually the catchment area for the three rivers that flow

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into the Marble Arch Caves.

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And we're actually making our way up one of the rivers,

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it's called the Cladagh Glen.

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So, you can imagine the weather that we experience in Fermanagh

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and in particular up on Cuilcagh Mountain

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has a large impact in relation to the show cave.

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We're able to come comfortably through this cave, but it all

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depends on the amount of rainfall that we get above, doesn't it?

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This cave tour is very much weather-dependent.

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There's days where we have to opt that we actually don't have a cave tour available.

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It really depends on the blanket bog,

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whether or not the blanket bog is dry or if it's saturated.

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It depends if it's local rain or if it has fallen at a distance

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and it also depends on what the rivers are like, if they've had

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a period of time where they've dried up or if there's water in it.

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That is why the staff that work here monitor the weather forecast on a daily basis.

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You're actually going outside and visually looking at Cuilcagh Mountain

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to see if it's under cloud, if it's raining,

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what you think is happening on the mountain, because it has its own little climate.

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In terms of weather, what's your perfect scenario?

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-SHE LAUGHS

-Best-case scenario is probably the rarest situation that we ever have,

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is that when we have a heatwave.

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I knew you were going to say that!

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But even at the moment, you know, we've had a period of

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a whole week now where we've had just dry weather. It's not hot,

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it's not sunny, but there's been no rain up on Cuilcagh Mountain

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and that changes everything.

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It changes amount of water coming off the mountain,

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it changes the atmosphere in the cave.

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I really like it when we've had a little bit of rainwater

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and it's coming into the cave and the rivers are rising slightly

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and you can hear the rumbling of the river.

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And that is part of the experience and the excitement

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for members of the public. So, people who do arrive on a rainy day,

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I don't think they're losing out, I think they're seeing it

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in a different way, and to me, that's what it's all about.

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-Every cloud has a silver lining.

-Yes, we could say that!

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