If you wanted to know what the weather would be like during the war, you had to go stand outside and make your best guess. Even if weather forecasting had not been such a new art, the ordinary person would not have had access to any such reports. The ordinary person could not even read what the weather had been like in other places the day before because that information was classified. The British and their allies, who lived on the leading edge of the westward moving weather, weren’t about to share that information with the Luftwaffe to make their bombing raids any easier or safer. In order to keep the militarily useful information about the weather from the German army and air force, it was kept from everyone.

Yet the weather played a huge role in everyone’s lives during the war. In the first place, if bad weather kept the air forces on the ground, civilians could sleep in their beds the whole night through without fear of a bombing raid. Good weather might well bring bombers, but it would also make sleeping in the fields more bearable.

As shortages of food, fuel and clothing increased over the course of the war, ordinary people became more and more vulnerable to the weather. In many cities women and children queued for hours outside to get their rations in heat or cold, rain or snow. They went home to houses that could barely be heated in some of the coldest winters on record. They wore coats and shoes that were increasingly shabby, worn out and of inferior quality.

The shortages of fuel also meant that most people had to rely on public transportation, their bicycles (if they hadn’t been requisitioned and probably with wooden wheels) or their feet. A long walk on a mild day is a lot less exhausting than that same walk on a blisteringly hot day, a miserably wet day or a very cold day. Very bad weather might force someone onto the metro or a tram, where he or she might encounter occupation troops checking identity documents or looking for labor (willing or not). Being in the very crowded trains, metros and trams of wartime also exposed a person to more illnesses.

But would it have improved the average civilian’s life to have access to weather forecasts? Knowing that a storm was coming would not have put more food or boots on the shelves or increased anyone’s rations. It may have made the air war more efficient, but that really can’t be counted as an improvement in the daily lives of civilians.