Over the last few days three severe storms have hit the UK. First storm Dudley left a trail of destruction across the North of England. Then on Friday the 18th February, storm Eunice, the most severe for 30 years crashed into Southern England and Wales. Trees were brought down, and with them power lines. Some people were without electricity for three days. Three people lost their lives. Now on Monday the 21st its Northern Ireland and Scotland’s turn, as storm Franklin wreaks havoc.
All this weather reminded me that there are certain conventions used in English when we are describing different weather phenomena.
Wind. Winds are strong, light, blustery, cold or warm, storm force, gale force or hurricane force. They are never heavy.
Breeze. Breezes can be gentle, light, strong or stiff. Chilly, mild or warm. Again, never heavy.
Rain. Rain can be heavy, or light or moderate. It can be cold or warm but also icy. Rain can also sting — "A stinging rain made the skin of our faces red raw." Rain can also be intermittent, persistent and patchy. It is never strong.
Showers. Though formed in a different way to rain they share the same adjectives, with the addition of scattered. "Scattered light showers, this afternoon will give way to drier conditions this evening."
Snow. Snow is similar to rain, heavy, moderate, light. Once fallen snow can also be thick, dense, patchy or thin. Snow, obviously, is never warm.
Sleet. A mixture of rain and snow. Use all the adjectives you would with rain apart from warm.
Drizzle. Drizzle can be patchy, light, thin, intermittent, persistent, or warm. Never heavy — if it was heavy it would be rain!
Hail. Hail by its nature is patchy and intermittent so don’t use these adjectives. The same with cold, it always is, as it is lumps of ice. In fact the only adjectives to use with hail could be stinging and frequent. "Frequent hail storms."
Fog. Fog is dense or thick, persistent or freezing. It is never thin or patchy because then it would be mist.
Mist. Mist is patchy, thin but never thick or dense because then it would be fog.
Clouds. Clouds can be high, low, thick, dense, heavy, grey, dark, black, white, ominous, persistent, overbearing, broken, patchy, scattered, light or thin. Never strong.
Finally, the one we all look forward to the Sun.
Sunshine is strong or intense, weak or watery, intermittent or persistent.
So now you are ready to be a TV weather presenter.
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