Antonio Paracin with his Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass which was used in the 1700's by sailors.
Antonio Paracin with his Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass which was used in the 1700's by sailors. Marc Stapelberg

Storm chaser using 19th century device to predict weather

ANTONIO Parancin is combining technology with history by using a 19th century-style Fitzroy Storm Glass to help predict Northern Rivers weather.

The North Coast Storm Chasers founder said he was given the device as an early Christmas present and put it to use over the past few stormy days.

"There are five chemicals in the Fitzroy Storm Glass and they all react differently to temperature changes and pressure changes to form crystals," he said.

"Based on the crystal formation you can predict the weather up to 48 hours in advance."

Mr Parancin said the sealed glass instrument was a barometer that allowed the observer to forecast the possibility of storms, snow, wind, rain or clear skies.

"If there is even a minor change in temperature or pressure crystals will form, but if there is a more dramatic change, larger, different types of crystals will form altogether," he said.

"Even before we had this windy weather today, I had wispy crystals throughout the glass yesterday.

"So it very much predicted today's wind, which matched the forecast models from the bureau."

While the storm glass seemed accurate, Mr Parancin said it wouldn't replace scientific modelling but could complement current forecasting techniques.

Mr Parancin said the specific mixture inside the storm glass was developed by Admiral Robert Fitzroy and used on his voyage with Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle.

In 1859, violent storms struck the British Isles. In response, the British Crown distributed storm glasses, then known as Fitzroy's storm barometers, to small fishing communities around the British Isles. They were to be consulted by ships at port before setting sail.



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