Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Selling the weather

click photo to enlarge
Over three years ago in a post called, "Banish weather forecasters" I lamented a number of recent efforts to "sex up" the weather forecasts that we receive in the UK. Since that time our weather forecasting has gone into overdrive with additional measures to capture the attention of the public, politicians, the press, advertisers and weather forecasting rivals. For example, we now have regular "severe weather warnings" even though we live in temperate latitudes where our climate is marked by an absence of extremes. If fog is predicted the forecast is plastered with yellow warning triangles bearing black exclamation marks to draw our attention to the coming event; this despite the fact that fogs occur every autumn, also at other times of year, and is obvious to all as soon as you step out of your front door. The same warnings accompany strong winds, heavy rain, frost etc, none of which are unusual occurrences in our islands.

The most recent gimmick to get us to give more attention to the weather forecast is the naming of storms to "raise awareness of severe weather". This device, borrowed from parts of the world that name hurricanes etc, serves little useful purpose. For everyone who is heedless of the weather that it manages to alert, there are more who are unnecessarily alarmed by the screaming headlines and warnings of dire peril that invariably follow such an announcement. Today's photograph shows the fine clouds of the sunset before the arrival of storm "Barney" (surely too cuddly a name for a potentially destructive force), the second named event of the autumn.  It was suggested it may bring gusts of wind up to 80 mph "in places", though looking at the detail of the forecast, in most areas they will be substantially less strong, something that will escape the notice of many. I suppose I shouldn't get worked up about this kind of headline grabbing. It is, after all, a characteristic of all the media today. Can it be long before "listicles" are a regular feature of the weather forecast?

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.8mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.) cropped
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On