Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ophelie, the Barometric Leech

In the window of a pharmacy that I pass every day on the rue de Sevres:

"Ophelie, our leech, is since time immemorial a meteorological indicator.
If atmospheric pressure goes down, she does, too.
If she is lying low in the bottom of the jar, bad weather and rain will come soon.
If atmospheric pressure goes up, she will rise up forthwith to the surface of the water, and sunshine and good weather will not be far away."

Here's la charmante Ophelie. Get out your umbrellas?
My sources seem to indicate the opposite.


Anonymous said...

I saw Ophélie for the first time yesterday and found her absolutely charming! I wonder what they feed her, though.
Despite the article from the Detroit Free Press, Ophélie seemed to be on the mark - she'd crept up to the top and the weather was glorious!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

We must have crossed paths -- yes, I saw Ophelie at the top of the jar yesterday. It's a new Ophelie, though, since I wrote the last post. The previous Mademoiselle O shrivelled up and died a few months ago.

I'll have to ask the pharmacie what they feed her.

Anonymous said...

This comment from the Australia Museum website confirms your source (and contradicts Ophélie's behavior): "As a fall in atmospheric pressure results in a small decrease in dissolved oxygen concentrations, rising leeches in a jar of water provided nineteenth century weather forecasters with a simple way of predicting bad weather." Nice to know how it works, in any case!

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