I felt a blast of east wind the other day and sensed that winter was limbering up.
It sent a horrible and familiar chill through the bones as it piled in from Scandinavia and Russia with relentless force.
There are no hills to break its stride and it hit the coast with a sharp Arctic howl.
I’m not going to make any predictions about the significance of an east wind on the severity of the coming winter but I did come across reports of a man in Perthshire who made long-term forecasts based on wind direction.
He was a Lieutenant George Mackenzie who was confident enough to go public with his predictions only to be shot down and ridiculed.
Mackenzie truly was a forerunner of the much-revered Windy Wilson, a talented weatherman of the modern age, also based in Perthshire.
Mackenzie, born in 1777, had been a farmer in Sutherland before joining the Perthshire Militia during the war with revolutionary France.
During his years working the land, Mackenzie observed that November 1 was the first day of the weather year, a date close to October 23 which in Scotland had been believed to be the day of creation.
Scotland had long organised itself along 19-year weather cycles. Farms were let for that period so tenants would benefit from a full cycle of weather.
Mackenzie’s study was more detailed and he discovered a 54-year wind cycle which influenced weather patterns.
His system was built on the interplay between east and west wind.
Mackenzie predicted the great frost of 1838, the cold, rainy summer of 1836 and the character of the intervening seasons.
However, his prediction for April 1840 was deemed flawed and he was blasted by the Edinburgh Journal as a deluded man and a dealer in ephemera.
But fellow weathermen leapt to his defence by explaining Mackenzie’s long track record of success.
He was also sought out for comment by publications the length of Great Britain.
In July, 1851, Mackenzie calculated that a deficiency in east wind would produce a weather crisis in the coming months.
He was on the money. At the turn of 1851/52 Scotland was gripped by a most dreadful storm that dragged on for days, left the country fractured and citizens dead.
As soon as the New Year had been seen in, the snow got heavier and heavier.
Within days there were 30-feet snow drifts between Perth and Inverness. Coach passengers returned to Perth and tried to make their way to Inverness on the mail train via Aberdeen.
Even this ran into trouble. The carriages were abandoned and passengers headed north squashed into the tender that had to back up and charge the drifts to fight its way to Aberdeen.
Strathearn, Strathtay and Rannoch were cut out and numerous deaths were reported.
In Glen Shee, snow covered the doors and windows of cottages.
According to Mackenzie’s calculations, we are now coming to the end of a 54-year wind cycle and the beginning of new one. Could be stormy times ahead.