Bernard Trouillet : #HeyMétéoFrance

Photography : Photokiff - Text : Lucas Delattre
Bernard Trouillet - BATC

« I don’t like stratus days », says Bernard Trouillet about those grey days when a low sky hangs over Senlis. On Twitter, @BernardT60 introduces himself as « passionate about meteorology and website administrator for @Infoclimat ». « Strong rains are only grazing #Senlis for now while showering #Chantilly and #Creil » (June 28, 2017) « Nice build-up of a cumulonimbus thanks to cold air tonight east of #Senlis » (June 29, 2017) … His tweets, generally illustrated by magnificent photographs of the sky, are often accompanied by the hashtag #HeyMeteoFrance, which pulls together a vast community of amateur meteorologists from all over France. An active member of that network, Bernard Trouillet is the treasurer of the non-governmental organisation Infoclimat, to which hundreds of voluntary observers, located all around the hexagon, contribute. The website Infoclimat averages about 15 000 daily visitors. During exceptional meteorological episodes, like heat waves or times of great cold, traffic goes up to more than 200 000 visitors a day.

Back in 2009, when he went into retirement, Bernard Trouillet decided to spend a good part of his time (at least two hours a day) to weather observation and forecasting, a passion he has harboured since childhood. « I have always been interested in the subject ; I got it from my father who was a farmer near Alençon … I wanted to make it my job but life decided otherwise ». After five years in the air force, where he was tasked with the upkeep of radar stations, and then of aircraft electronics aboard fighter jets, based in Reims, Bernard Trouillet made a civilian career in electronics and information technology. During the last twenty years of his professional life, he worked at Siemens, and afterwards at Heidelberg (a manufacturer of « sheet by sheet » offset printers), in the departments of visual arts (photoengraving, pre-printing …). « My passion for meteorology was there, but I didn’t have time for it because of ceaseless travelling for business purposes ».

After retiring, Bernard Trouillet first considered joining the « weather watchmen », a network made up of voluntary observers collaborating with Météo France, « but they already had people in Senlis ». So he looked for something else and became a member of Infoclimat, after a week’s training to supplement his knowledge. Since then, he has outfitted his house with a weather station, which tops the roof of his pavillion located in the neighbourhood of Villevert, in the northern part of Senlis. This station is radio-linked to his office on the ground floor of the house, which includes a data logger, plugged into a transmission box which continuously streams data to Infoclimat : temperature, humidity, hygrometry, rainfall, wind (speed and direction) or even atmospheric pressure. Bernard Trouillet does not only collect data : he works on forecasting models from various sources (American or European), of which he derives syntheses available to all. Forecasting, climatology and global warming are the three topics which he is most interested in.

Infoclimat is a privileged partner of Météo France, which leans more and more, in a context of tight budget, on amateur meteorologists. « Thanks to data exchange, both Infoclimat and Météo France are able to use a larger pool of meteorological observations, enabling everyone to enhance their service, while complying with the rules of accessibility and respecting the rights of each partner », he explains.

The Infoclimat network accounts for 900 members in France. With an average age of 51 years, they are retirees rather than young people, and rather men than women (32 women only over the whole member base). « There are young people amongst us, but they are more passionate about spectacular phenomena like heavy snow, cold waves, thunderstorms … ». Infoclimat is often called upon by institutions or businesses, for example in the construction industry (the point being to try and predict the upcoming weather in order to better manage projects). Locally, CEEBIOS (the European Center for Excellence in Biomimicry in Senlis) has approached the organisation in order to reckon the « unified degree days », which allow to assess the need for thermal energy in correlation with the winter cold or summer heat. And the city official in charge of maintaining Senlis’ municipal parks and gardens regularly refers to Bernard Trouillet’s data to plan his watering schedule.

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