The Met Office need to stop turning storms into entertainment

Janet Street-Porter
Waves crash over a lighthouse as Storm Ophelia passes Porthcawl. UK storms do cause damage and distress, but now they are being elevated into a big worry on a regular basis: Reuters

The Met Office receives funding from government, the EU and the Civil Aviation Authority, totalling around £83m a year – that’s a lot of public money to spend on turning weather reporting into a new form of entertainment.

I’m sick of their cutesy habit of “naming” storms, and issuing patronising advice which borders on the mindnumbingly obvious. Today, depending on where you live in the UK, Brian will be paying you a visit – that’s Storm Brian, not Mr Wilson from the Beach Boys. According the Met Office, conditions on seafronts could be “quite hazardous” as winds may gust between 50 and 70 miles per hour.

They are warning against “storm selfies” – so, if that was how you were planning to spend this weekend, best to forget it and log on to the Met website, which tells you what temperature your bedroom should be if you are aged over 65.

A few years ago, Met forecasters invented the term weather “events”, turning natural phenomena into a parody of a pop festival. Then, they expanded their language to include “mist and murk”. In a final insult, they sprinkle the irritating and wholly insincere words “stay safe” whenever possible, trying to instil in us the sense that we are all potential “victims” of weather which could harm us.

UK storms do cause damage and distress, but now they are being elevated into a big worry on a regular basis. This week’s storm warnings reveal new terminology – Brian, according to experts, could be a “weather bomb”. Whatever Brian brings, it won’t detonate on impact, cause shrapnel wounds or chemical clouds. Please, can weather “experts” get a grip on the real world?

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