O'Really?

June 10, 2014

Weasel Words of Weather Forecasters: Will it rain today?

Sunny intervals? Really?

According to the urban myth, the eskimos have hundreds of words for snow. But meteorologists, especially British weather forecasters, have just as many words for rain. Take this typical forecast for example:

TODAY: Showers will continue in the north and west, but become more lighter and more isolated as the night progresses. Remaining dry elsewhere with clear spells and light winds.

TOMORROW: Largely dry and bright with sunny spells, the best of the sunshine in the south. A few light showers are likely for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Warm with light winds.

Many people just want to know will it rain today and should I take a brolly? Deciphering the weasel words above can be frustrating, in case you find this confusing, here’s a quick (and incomplete) translation into plain words [1].

Weasel Weather Words Will it rain? Actual meaning in plain english
stormy yes (lots)
showers yes
becoming wetter yes
low pressure moving in from the west yes
sunshine with showers yes
showery intervals yes
unsettled yes
wet patches yes
sunny intervals yes
blustery yes (probably)
mainly dry yes
becoming brighter later yes
sunny spells yes
humid yes
brighter elsewhere yes (where you are)
thundery downpours yes (lots)

I hope this clears things up a bit.

References

  1. Ernest Gowers (1954) Plain Words: A Guide to the use of English revised and updated by Rebecca Gowers ISBN: 0141975539

1 Comment »

  1. Have you tried the new Met Office on-line forecast, it even gives the phase of the moon.

    Comment by philipstrange — June 12, 2014 @ 3:20 pm | Reply


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