In the first programme, WIND, Donal explores the journey the winds take from their birth at the equator where he finds himself adrift in the doldrums to the North pole where he witnesses arguably the most beautiful vision on earth, a space rainbow, better known as Aurora Borealis. Along the way he revisits the devastating events that were unleashed by Hurricane Andrew in the USA and finds out how the fastest wind on earth, the jet stream, was put to deadly use by the Japanese in the Second World War. We will see how the wind can turn from the cooling breeze of a summer day to a devastating tornado and how a wind from space can literally flatten the planet.
There is a lot more to moisture than meets the eye. Above our heads is an ocean trapped in the clouds. On a journey from Europe to South-East Asia this film shows how clouds create the atmospheric pageant above us and follow the moisture within as it forms and falls. The study of liquid skies explores rain, mist and fog in the UK, rainstorms, flood and the monsoon in Asia.
Donal experiences life at the extremes of cold, from ice storms to avalanches, frostbite to heart attacks â€“ cold is a killer. His first stop is Greenland to the home of the Inuit to see how they survive temperatures of minus 40 and spends 24 hours with the Sirius sledge patrol who live for three months in this harsh environment. Donal is tested to see the effect extreme cold has on the body and meets two men who survived wild weather conditions in New York, when winds reached up to 145 mph in a freak storm. At Mount Washington he experiences the extremes of winter weather while exploring the hidden danger locked into ice and snow and talks to the survivors of Canadaâ€™s worst weather crisis, the ice storm of 1998.
Donal traces the arrival of summer from the extremes of heat in the desert to the idea of a perfect summer in the temperate climates of the north. He visits the jungles of the Belize where the sunâ€™s energy is most intense and where the weather is both wet and hot. Fortunately this weather is rare but in 1995 Chicago experienced a heat wave which killed 165 people. Heading for the desert he attempts The Marathon des Sables an exhausting and dangerous seven-day test of ability to see what effect dry heat has on the weather, from mirages to the deadly desert sandstorm that is the haboob. Finally Donal explores the energy behind lightening before getting first hand experience of being struck by it.