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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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HomeNewsMeet Auntie Cyclone, the Met Office’s new heatwave nanny

Meet Auntie Cyclone, the Met Office’s new heatwave nanny

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ONE of the Met Office’s tasks, I always thought, was to provide the British public with weather forecasts. But its bosses have decided that is not enough.  

Tacked on the end of its recent ‘Extreme Heat’ warning was advice from its Chief Meteorologist … and from the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, and from the National Highways Head of Road Safety, and from the President of the British Veterinary Association, and from the Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UK Health Security Agency. 

A simple forecast of hot weather has become a series of instructions about how to deal with hot weather. ‘Stay cool indoors: Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors … if going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately … try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest … walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat.’ 

Do we want all that (and more) from a meteorological organisation? How do you use cool spaces considerately? Do we need to be told to walk in the shade as if we were six year-olds?  

The reason for this nannying, I have discovered, is that the Met Office has appointed its first socio-meteorologist, Helen Roberts.  

‘When we produce a weather forecast, we’re not doing it just for the sake of predicting a future state of the atmosphere, we’re doing it because weather impacts us,’ she says. ‘The Met Office’s purpose is helping you make better decisions to stay safe and thrive. This statement of intent puts people at the heart of our raison d’être.’ 

If a Meteorological organisation’s raison d’être can have a heart, then surely it should be to provide a forecast of weather. While we’re on that subject, preferably a positive statement, not a woolly get-out. 

For instance, as I’m writing this, there is ‘a 20 per cent chance of rain at 2pm.’ It’s meaningless as a forecast, but the format means that whatever happens, they can claim they were correct. 

 However did we manage in the olden days? We used to have really extreme weather. There once was once a time in England when it was so cold that trees split open with the frost and cattle and sheep froze to death, whether in barns or fields.  

Richard Doddridge Blackmore’s Lorna Doone, first published in 1869, gives a vivid picture of that grim 1683-1684 winter, with many chilling details based on local comments at the time. 

In the Great Storm of 1703, 400 windmills were demolished, many of them set alight by the friction of their blades turning so fast. During a gale in 1839, salt spray was blown from the Irish Sea to Lincolnshire. 

A most extraordinary event in South West England’s weather was the blizzard of March 1891. The 3pm Plymouth train left Paddington on Monday the ninth, and arrived at 8.30pm on Friday the 13th, having spent the intervening days marooned on the southern slopes of Dartmoor. Tavy Cleave, a Dartmoor valley around 300ft deep, was filled to the top in places.  

Those examples were just a few of the dozens of major UK weather events over the last 400 years. How did we manage without either forecasts, warnings or advice from a socio-meteorologist? 

Socio-meteorology is just another branch of wokeism – people are no longer content with policing your speech, but are proving their own superiority by giving you instructions which carry the subliminal message that you’re not fit to run your own life. Is it the Met Office’s job to make sure you ‘stay safe and thrive?’  

You have a choice. The experts will kindly tell you what to do. Or you can start thinking for yourself. 

Do you really want to be told to walk in the shade every time we get a good summer? 

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Ivor Williams
Ivor Williams
Ivor Williams is a freelance writer and has been a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society since 1984.

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