Start up a conversation with anyone and the subject of The Weather has to be in the top 3.
If someone asks me on the phone ‘What’s the weather like with you?’ I tend to answer “Well, we have some”. I’m not being flippant or rude, it’s just that you can 99% guarantee that whatever the forecast is for our particular area, we don’t get it. It’s as if we’re in this little snow globe and the weather goes round us.
We have four seasons in the UK (ish)
Winter December to February
Spring March to May
Summer June to August
Autumn September to November
though I can’t remember the last time the Seasons actually complied with this timeframe as it has been known to have heavy snow at Easter (April 2008) and on Christmas Day last year, we were out with the dog in the woods wearing light jackets as it was a gloriously sunny day with temperatures well into double figures.
CNN is quite right when it says of our seasons that ‘All are considered by Brits to be “ice cream weather.”‘ Taking this literally as I can think of no subtle hidden meaning, most of us love ice cream and don’t need a sunny or dry day to want or enjoy one. Nearly all households have freezers these days and I remember a friend of my mother’s getting hers in 1967 which she stocked with every conceivable flavour of ice cream as she didn’t know what else she could put in it.
All I can say is that the only consistent traits of the British weather are that it is unpredictable, unreliable, and has no sense of timing (June and July Weddings are now iffy for good weather).
So as we can’t rely on the season, we simply comment on various aspects of the weather, be it rain, snow, fog, wind, etc.
We do tend to get a lot of rain here, and according to CNN, us Brits have an “impressive lexicon for rain”. As mentioned in an earlier post on Weather my interpretation is as follows:
Invisible rain is the stuff you don’t really see, yet it seeps into your clothing giving you a chill.
Normal rain is basically what you see is what you get…… wet.
Fat rain is the big heavy drops that splatter on your windows and roof making one helluva row.
Stair rod rain is heavier than fat rain, coming down in straight lines, and hurts when it hits you.
Hose pipe rain is the stuff most of us can’t handle for prolonged periods as it leads to floods.
The Experts call it Drizzle, Showers, Heavy Rain, Downpour, and Torrential.
You get damp, wet, soaked, drenched, or drowned accordingly but what I didn’t mention in that post was Snizzle and Mizzle.
Some years ago apparently, a weather reporter was thinking drizzle but seeing light snow, so their mouth produced the word Snizzle on air and it stuck. We have since moved on with Mist and Drizzle resulting in Mizzle, which is not a light shower as some may think. I suppose you can take it a step even further and develop Fizzle when referring to drizzly fog.
Snow is another interesting category for Joe Public versus the Expert.
A light dusting resembles a sprinkling of icing sugar to us, yet some experts get their pants in a wad if they can’t see the complete pavement. Give us an inch, and we’re getting ready to play snow angels, but it’s said to be treacherous driving conditions and everyone’s encouraged not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Two inches and the dog is surprised at getting cold feet, but “we’re in serious trouble” as people panic buy and supermarket shelves are stripped of the essentials like crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
If snow has piled naturally higher than four inches, it’s considered to be a snow drift, and roads become “impassable for deliveries” or people are “cut off”. In truth, we have cleared our driveway and are able to get out onto the main road without difficulty. Our council is pretty good at getting the grit lorries out early in readiness. The only idiots likely to try and do 70mph on a snowy road are those with lousy tyres and no common sense showing off in front of their mates.
Fog is usually thick and wet, so if someone is nicknamed Foggy, that isn’t necessarily an expression of endearment. A light mist is damp and can affect visibility, but it doesn’t imply that you can’t see at all. In definition, Fog reduces visibility to less than 1km (5/8 statute mile), whereas Mist reduces visibility to no less than 1km.
It’s not just fog that reduces visibility. We’ve driven in heavy downpours and not been able to see the car in front of us apart from their lights. Saying that though, some drivers tend to put ALL their lights on whether it’s foggy or not, so we guess that either a) it’s a new/unfamiliar car to them, b) they don’t understand what all the switches do, or c) they don’t know how to turn them off! In the New Forest once, we had to stop and get off the road completely in a freak hail storm as we could see absolutely nothing at all around us. (Maybe I shouldn’t mention the time when we couldn’t see anything simply because we had a dirty windscreen. It happens!)
Smog is derived from the words Smoke and Fog, thus referring to smoky fog, but the Pea Souper, a familiar and serious problem in places like London from the 19th to mid 20th century, was actually air pollution caused by the burning of large amounts of coal. It was thick, tinged green, and stank.
On the rare occasions we get prolonged spells of sunshine (more than 2 days in a row) , not only are the beach babes dusting off their bikini bottoms and the price of sunscreen-maximum factor lotions rocketing in the shops, the experts gleefully state we are in a heatwave and as such, impose a water ban in case of a drought. Terrific. It doesn’t matter that we may have had our wettest winter/spring/summer/autumn on record some months before. Don’t you just love the way they throw into the conversation ‘since records began’? That was probably only last week because no-one had ever thought to record certain aspects of our climate before.
With the recent news of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the devastation of wind can be horrendous. The Great Hurricane hit the UK in 1987, followed by another some 2 years later. Hurricane St Jude didn’t touch us here, yet the following week, without any warning at all, we were hit by tremendous winds. There was nothing on the local forecast or radar about it, but it arrived in full force when our area was supposed to have ‘clear skies’. The following morning having lost the majority of what was left of our apples, we bagged them all up, labelled them as fallers and took them out to the woods with a sign “FREE” for anyone out walking their dog. The next day we went back to retrieve any that hadn’t been taken, and were pleased to see they had all gone. Waste not, want not, and I reckon a lot of pies and crumbles were made that day.
Obviously, the results of flatulence, especially baked beans or sprout induced, are familiar so I won’t go into those (think Peter Sellars, lift scene, Pink Panther movie).
So to conclude on a happier note, kids love the wind as it’s kite weather. Hubby and I made a kite one year. It was dead expensive (10p) and consisted of a white plastic bin liner, an old bamboo cane for the frame, a roll of parcel string (the 10p), sticky tape and a few kitchen roll bows for the tail.
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A great post Di, and worth digging up again! Somehow you’ve made the British weather sound interesting! It’s going to be hot this weekend, maybe the hottest ‘since records began’ – so hot, we’ll record it in Fahrenheit so it sounds even hotter! Unless of course, the forecast is wrong which invariably it is!
Best local weather forecast is a pair of curtains at the window!
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