Repeat after me – a gust of 34 knots or higher does not make a gale

Courtesy of the BBC

It is one thing having a gust of gale force and a true gale. Stav obviously thinks the country is experiencing a true gale quite widely today, but he is wrong and it’s misleading. But apart from me is anyone going to tell him that he is wrong? I don’t think so, it seems to me that the weathercasters down at the BBC seem to be a virtual law unto themselves in one they broadcast, and very lightly managed in that regard by their Meteogroup supervisors. The other thing I would like some kind of key or legend on their charts, they frequently switch between mean speeds and highest gust in their charts, but if they don’t mention one they are displaying it’s easy to think that these are mean speeds.


A WIND with a mean speed in the range of 34 to 40 knots (force 8 on the BEAUFORT SCALE of wind force, where it was originally described as ‘fresh gale’) and/or gusts reaching 43 to 51 knots, at a free exposure 10 m (33 ft) above ground. In general, a mean speed over a period of 10 consecutive minutes, as reported in synoptic code, is implied by the term ‘gale’; where this is not intended, the specific threshold for the gusts is used.

Met Office Glossary (1993)

As you can see there have been quite a number of stations so far today that have reported gusts of gale force but only a handful reporting a true gale with a mean speed of 34 knots or higher, and of these stations, three are on a coastal headland, and the other two are on the top of a mountain. So yes, it’s a very windy day for July, with a fresh occasionally strong wind from the W’SW in places, but I think the advice that Stav should have been getting from the Chief at Meteogroup would be to drop the term gale from his headline, and only mention gales in his forecast if it’s in connection with the higher ground of the Pennines.

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