Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Britain braced for -10C winter blast

The Daily Telegraph website has an article about the UK weather-forecast for this weekend. To enhance the restrained and informative nature of the article, which avoids lazy journalistic cliché, I've added my own parenthetical comments in red below:

Britain braced for -10C winter blast. (It's a maritime climate, and it's winter).

Sleet and snow is forecast as far south as Wales and the Midlands by the weekend with wintry showers across the rest of the country. (So not as far South as, say, The South. Not the Isle of Wight, not Bournemouth, but as far South as the Midlands. In a country with a North and a South, the bit roughly halfway between the two is The Midlands. So, the bit which isn't in the South is as far South as the sleet and snow is forecast to reach.)

Storm-hit Britain could be hit with an arctic blast bringing more than three inches of snow towards the end of the week. (It's a maritime climate, and it's winter).

A twist in the jet stream means bitter winds will bring freezing fog and widespread frosts. (A twist? Like when you hold one end of the jet-stream in an aerodynamic clamp, and rotate the other end around its axis? I guess the meanders in a river are colloquially said to be twists, but isn't it really a bend or a kink in the jet-stream?) 

Sleet and snow is forecast as far south as Wales and the Midlands by the weekend while wintry showers are possible across the country. (The headline said the forecast was for wintry showers across the rest of the country, now you're saying they're merely 'possible'. Are they likely or just possible? If you can't tell me, then you've failed in the primary journalistic task of disseminating useful information).

Gareth Harvey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said today would be “fairly chilly” and added there would be “widespread frost on Wednesday night, with temperatures between 0C and -3C, which could happen anywhere.” (It's a sad reflection on the modern world if literally 'anywhere' could suffer a frost. In winter, in a maritime climate).

He added: "In the northern part of Scotland, people will wake up to a covering of snow on Thursday morning with accumulations of up to several centimetres. A band of rain and snow will slowly move its way southwards but it will peter out as it reaches central parts." (Not just Scotland, but the 'northern part of Scotland', will wake up to a covering of snow. It's as if the chance of snow in winter increases at higher latitudes).

But the real cold snap will begin on Friday when experts say temperatures could plunge to -10C. (Experts. I didn't realise there were experts involved. These are people who know what they're talking about)

And James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said cold weather could hold out through the rest of this month. ('Could' or 'likely to'?)

He said: The colder and wintry theme will begin to take more of a stronghold into the second week of February as the UK becomes locked in an icy and wintry grip." ('Stronghold', 'locked', 'grip'. Sounds like some panic-buying in the supermarkets is in order).

The chilly outlooks comes as Britain recovers from the effects of Storm Imogen, which struck on Monday.

Which brings us to the naming of storms. Below the main story we find the following, under the heading 'A-Z of UK storms':

Why do we need to name them? Using a "single authoritative system" helps the media communicate what's happening more effectively, says the Met Office, which in turn increases public awareness.

In what sense, exactly, does the naming of transient patterns in atmospheric airflow constitute an 'authoritative system'. Do anonymous patterns of airflow lack presence in some way? Do anticyclones suffer from poor self-confidence? And how does giving a storm a name help the media to communicate what's happening more effectively? Should we also give economic recessions avuncular names, so that the media can explain more effectively why living standards are falling?  


Unknown said...

It's disappointing isn't it. You would expect this kind of nonsense from the Express but the Telegraph used to have some dignity, and some journalists.

Still it's nice to come across a post that I understand!


Gordon McCabe said...

Cheers Phil.