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UK Met Office to simplify weather forecasts

How are they going to do that?

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BBC weather forecasts, not renowned for being enormously difficult to follow, are about to be simplified, the Met Office says, in a bid to make them "clearer and more relevant" to more people.

Apparently, showery outbreaks will never darken our doorways again, though we might still be inconvenienced by patchy rain. Similarly, it will not be "chilly in isolated areas". Instead - and this sounds so much nicer - it will be "warm for most".

The Met Office has proposed new guidelines after consulting its staff on how they thought the weather ought to be presented, the BBC reports.

The result is that forecasters will be warned off over-dramatising the weather [like Michael Fish did in 1987? - Ed] and will face wagging fingers if they start a forecast on a negative note if most of the country will be fine.[But they always start with Scotland - Ed]

The Met Office, rather predictably, denies that it is dumbing-down the weather, or trying to portray it in a more positive light.

A spokesman for the Met Office elaborated: "One of the problems is understanding what a weather forecaster is trying to tell you. High temperatures for most are a good thing, but for farmers, for example, who need rain they may not be."

He concluded that forecasters "should just give the temperatures, and say if they are above or below the yearly average, and let the public decide if they are good or bad".

Now, we at El Reg are all in favour of removal of spin, but we have to wonder how much spin can possibly be put on the weather, or how useful it might be.[how do you de-spin tornadoes and hurricanes - Ed]

For one thing, a forecast is just that: a calculated best guess about what the weather is most likely to do. For another, the forecast has absolutely no bearing on what the weather actually does. And finally, when was the last time you looked at a miserable weather forecast and decided that that kind of weather was not for you, and that you'd go with the competitor's brand instead? ®

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