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

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before