Weather: The cloudy message from forecasters
Thursday 09 October 1997
Vicars drone, horse-race commentators accelerate, academics pontificate thoughtfully, and policemen adopt the stilted tones of authority. Every profession evolves its own distinctive mode of speech. Sometimes this enhances the message - as, for example, with the seductively convincing tones of barristers - at other times it interferes with good communication. Weather forecasters, I fear, come into the second category.
When the television news is over, I, like the majority of viewers, stay tuned for the weather. For five minutes I am held spellbound by the clouds, rain, sunshine, temperatures and isobars that sweep graphically across the screen, all held together by a lilting commentary delivered with a synchronised-swimmingly sincere smile.
Then suddenly it's over, and I ask myself: Will it rain tomorrow? Er ... I seem to have missed it again. I really must pay more attention next time.
For many years I thought it was just me. Then I discovered that everyone I spoke to had the same problem. And the more I analyse it, the more I think it's not our fault. Here's the end of a recent TV weather forecast - no names, it could have been any of them - (pauses are indicated by "..." ):
"Now for that other change in the weather because ... across these southern areas it's going to be markedly fresher ... than it was today, nowhere near as high those temperatures ... as already seen not as breezy ... in the north. The north bearing the brunt of most of the weather systems sweeping by ... throughout the next few days with mostly the southern areas of the country ... keeping the fine and sunny spells of weather ... away from west coasts which could be a bit drizzly ... perhaps the wettest weather in Scotland ... on Sunday. That's how it looks at the moment anyway. Bye-bye."
Southern, north, north, southern, west, Scotland, on Sunday. We are being bounced through time and place in a game of meteorological pinball. The fault lies in an attempt to impart more information than is possible in the time allowed. All we want to know is displayed on the graphics anyway; the commentary only confuses the issue.
Here's another short example:
"Tomorrow then for the Midlands and east of England starting off bright and indeed some hazy sunshine for much of the day. Elsewhere some brighter showery weather soon back into northern Ireland but elsewhere a sandwich of cloud and rain which will be heavy in places ..."
What does "bright and indeed hazy" mean? And is that second "elsewhere" the same as the first elsewhere, or is it somewhere else entirely - back in the Midlands and east, perhaps?
So many words, so much weather, so little time. Well, that's how it looks at the moment anyway. Bye-bye.
Life & Style blogs
Charlie Charlie Challenge: everyone on the internet thinks it’s a marketing stunt, but it probably isn’t
Cher shows that ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Woman jailed for making 'loud sex noises'
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Kendall and Kylie Jenner for Topshop: All the details on the debut collection
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
- 1 Enrique Iglesias injured trying to catch a drone mid concert
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
- 3 Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
- 4 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 5 UK weather: Temperatures set to soar making parts of Britain hotter than parts of the Mediterranean
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...