David Randall: No business like this snow business

Here is the newspaper weather forecast...

Related Topics

Suddenly, there's a lot of weather about. Winter has arrived, and, with it, those confusing months when it's hard to tell what the climate is up to from day to day. Some rely on the Met Office; others swear by seaweed, and many of us more experienced hands have discovered you can tell quite a bit by peeling back the curtains and looking through a window.

But that tells you only what the weather is doing in your own back yard. Obtaining a comprehensive national picture is more difficult. You can always phone friends, or, if you don't have any, scan webcams in far-flung parts. But, for a really reliable indicator of the national weather picture, you need to turn to the press. Since most national papers are produced in London, by staff living within commuting distance of the capital, the way they calibrate their snow coverage is a far more accurate way of detecting the nation's weather.

For those new to this method, we present the IoS Winter Weather Ready Reckoner:

No story, not even a news in brief: South unaffected, Scotland swept by blizzards.

No story, but artistic photograph of snow-covered hills: South unaffected, but blizzards spread from Scotland to "the North", a term used to describe parts of the UK still relatively unexplored by employees of the national press. Snow therefore regarded as picturesque. Stephen Fry Tweets: "What are these silly people in Scotland moaning about?"

Double-page spread: Snow reaches Northants and threatens northern Home Counties. Newspaper editors ratchet up coverage to reflect their concern of the state of the pipes in their second homes. Features on "Will this affect the weekend getaway?" commissioned. Lengthy stories about south's stores of grit and salt, with school, road, and rail closures in Scotland and "the North" mentioned in final paragraph. Scottish woman Tweets that she begs to disagree with Stephen Fry. He Tweets back saying: "That's it! I've had enough of these online insults. It's too, too distressing."

Four pages, headlined "Arctic Britain!": Light dusting in London and the South-East, as rest of Britain enjoys temperatures in the 50s and rapid thaw. Daily Mail launches new promotion: "A free Sherpa Tensing Snow Shovel for every reader! (Token collect)". Stephen Fry's returns to Tweet that he is marooned in his London, appealing for the online community to understand his plight.

Six pages, headlined "Whiteout!": Inch of snow in London. Female columnist, writing beneath 10-year-old by-line picture, laments "softie Britain" after her children's prep school sends Jeremy and Jocasta home early. The following day, she writes: "When we had our first skiing holiday of the winter in St Moritz recently, there was a foot and a half of snow and the ski lifts worked perfectly! Why, oh why, can't Britain get its act together like the Swiss?"

Pages 1-13, headlined "UK paralysed!": Three inches in London, and the South-East. Rest of Britain snow-free. Wall-to-wall coverage includes: "Deadly shortage of salt in Surrey" (The Times); "Why global warming is to blame for big freeze" (The Guardian); "Is this the most evil man in Britain?" (Daily Mail report on hapless guy in charge of Crouch End's ill-fated gritting); "Siberian weather threatens royal wedding" (Daily Express interview with eccentric weather hobbyist who says: "It could last until April. Possibly. Is that what you wanted me to say?"); "50 Best Designer Sledges" (The Independent); "Social workers warn thousands could die as insulation grants are cut" (The Observer); and "Wayne Rooney: I never laid a hand-warmer on her" (News of the World).

No story, but artistic photograph of sheep up to its belly in snow: South back basking in mid-50s, rest of Britain shivers, Newcastle cut off.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style