A Guide to “Metspeak”

I received this from a friend by email this morning:

“I’ve been reviewing the Met Office’s 30 day forecast.  It’s littered with ‘caveat words’ like ‘generally’ and ‘may’.

UK Outlook for Friday 7 Jan 2011 to Friday 21 Jan 2011:
Temperatures look likely to remain generally on the cold side. It’s been cold for over a month; it’s more likely to stay that way than suddenly warm.

especially across northern and eastern areas of the UK. The East and North are usually the coldest parts anyway.

Western parts may see temperatures reaching close to average values at times. Without saying what the average refers to this is meaningless – average of 1970 to 2000, average 2007 to 2009?.

Conditions look to remain settled many areas, with precipitation amounts generally below average and with plenty of sunshine for some. Like ‘sunny periods and scattered showers’; meaningless.

Given the relatively settled setup, hard or severe overnight frosts may become an issue, along with the risk freezing fog which is likely to be slow to clear at times. Again, given we’ve had frosts over most of the country for over a month this is hardly ‘news’.

Updated: 1157 on Thu 23 Dec 2010

I sometimes think that, if I had a spare thousand pounds, I’d like to place a spoof job advert in the Exeter (home to the Met Office) local paper.  The advert would be for the position of Professor of a new School; the School of Meteorology and Astrology.

I am sure that the skills needed to be a weather forecaster are the same as for a horoscope writer; the ability to sound informative without ever really nailing your colours to the mast.”

Complements of the season!

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9 Responses to A Guide to “Metspeak”

  1. tonyb says:


    EXCLUSIVE!! As you know I live close to the Met Office and through a mole am able to reveal the Met office forecast for the first 6 months of 2011!

    January; The weather will be mostly around normal, but with some periods greater than normal with some below normality. All in all, at times the weather will be surprising whilst at others it won’t be. It will be colder than average in those areas of the country where it isnt warmer than average.

    February; True to this months characteristics it will be on average somewhat cool except for those periods that are somewhat mild. Cloud will appear from time to time and some may be persistent or not, so sunshine might or might not be affected

    March; Winds will be of a surprising degree of strength in certain areas-those periods greater than normal will be windy, whilst those less than normal will be calm. Our new service for Wind turbine operators shows that whatever the weather you will be raking in the subsidies. Wives of deputy Prime Ministers will do particularly well.

    April; True to form there will be sunshine and Showers. The showers at times being greater than the sunshine, meaning that all in all one or the other will be somewhat different from average values. Different parts of the country will experience different weather at various times during the month. Temperatures may occur anywhere.

    May. Wind. Rain. Cold. Warmth. ALL of these will appear at some time, causing this month to have outbreaks of averageness, but with some variation between greater than and less than the average of normal.

    June. Hotter than average. Although some areas of the country will be colder than average. Some parts will be just average. There will be periods of wind in some areas that are greater than the periods of wind in others.

    The outlook for wind turbine operators remains very bright with subsidies reaching a peak towards the end of the month.


  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    Looks to me like Tonyb just saved you a thousand pounds. Give him the position. Having already done the job for the next six months, you just have to invert those for the months of July through December (for July, repeat June) (for August, repeat May) and so on. Then you can start the forecasts for 2012 with a repeat of 2011. Thus, your new weather prognosticator is superfluous, so you can fire him and cancel the line in your budget for the position of Professor of Meteorology and Astrology.

    Sorry Tonyb, but your services are no longer needed, it was good work while it lasted. Please return to your previous (well appreciated) role of providing us with lessons of explorations and settlements of the Arctic and near Arctic regions. Thanks.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Verity Jones says:

    My father always says that we live in the only country in the world where you can get all four seasons in one day.

  4. ArndB says:

    # “all four seasons in one day”

    When it comes to weather (and average weather = climate) forecast, Great Britain made the mistake to locate itself to close to the continent, as WEATHER is a ‘fight’ between maritime and continental influence. In the mid of the Atlantic the daily weather map was sufficient to tell you what time it is (e.g. due to the passing time of a front) already 50 years ago.

    When it comes to MetOffice (and all other met-services as well) forecast today, the institution of a ‘maritime nation’ seem to have never realised that many millions more marine data would be needed (at least down to 50 metes for short term forecast) for getting better than the service it provided during the last 100 years. No wonder that they can meanwhile tell a lot excellently (Metspeak) without telling anything, like their brothers at the AGW department.

    For now a Happy Holiday Season,
    wishes Arnd

  5. gallopingcamel says:

    Flanders and Swann summarized British weather many years ago and the Met Office is still playing “catch up”. Here are a few of their verses:

    Farmers fear unkindly May,
    Frost by night and hail by day.

    June just rains and never stops,
    Thirty days and spoils the crops.

    In July the sun is hot,
    Is it shining? No it’s not!

  6. alexjc38 says:

    Very good article, and the Flanders and Swann song is a hoot! It’s a good thing we have a sense of humour in this country, where the weather/climate is concerned – we need it!

  7. Pingback: Gloomy forecasts | Digging in the Clay

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