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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam