Text forecasts from the Met Office

There are some problems with the regional forecasts from the Met Office that you access from its website or via it’s app. One of them is that the manually inserted text forecast invariably fails to match the icons in the automatic hourly forecast displayed as icons. That aside some of the text forecasts can leave a lot to be desired. I imagine that knocking out 16 different regional text forecasts for the next 5 days is not the most important job down on a night shift in Exeter, but then again it’s probably marginally better than writing TAFs all night for all the civilian and military airports around the country.

For many or for most?

I should imagine they must have some rules about how they should write the text forecast and the terminology and descriptions they should employ, but from my experience of reading it, any rules must be being ignored. A couple of things in today’s forecast for the Highlands made me want to put pen to paper, or more accurately keyboard to screen. The first could be straight out of the presenters book of dodges – “for many” and “for most”. It’s an inaccurate and confusing piece of shorthand, you always get to find out what the weather is for the many and for the most, but the rest of us wherever we are have to guess what the weather will be like for us because they never say!

Severity of Frost

The other thing is how we describe minimum temperature. Minus eight celsius is termed a severe frost in the Met Office’s own Forecaster reference book, and if there’s more than six knots of wind it would be termed very severe frost. So it’s worse than a touch and it’s much worse than sharp. If we could get some uniformity in the terminology used by our weather presenters, then I’m sure it would follow that forecasts would come across more accurately and less confusing to the viewer.

Strength of wind

I won’t go on (well I will just for this last paragraph) about he or she forgets to mention what the wind will be doing in the first four days of the forecast, presumably winds will be light and variable, but they do mention that it will be breezy on Thursday. Now, does breezy mean that winds will be stronger than if they described it as windy? It seems that no one cares a stuff these days about the Beaufort scale and whether winds are moderate, fresh or strong. It’s apparent to me that in these liberated days no one can tell you how to write a forecast and what terms to use, and it’s also apparent that it’s no ones else’s job to check that you’ve done it either.

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