One of the strange things about being a stranger here is trying to figure out what the weather forecasts mean.
For one thing, they usually say it’s going to be:
To me, that implies “hardly a cloud in the sky, bright and sunny, and warm. Head for the beach, yo!”. But it doesn’t seem to mean that here.
My Dad in Toronto a specialist in amateur weather data gathering. Yes, that means what you think, but he’s also a volunteer team coordinator in the provincial emergency management and disaster response organization, so I don’t mind him getting all excited about dark and stormy clouds. But Dad, could you maybe please just keep your eyes on the road instead of looking for the tornado anvils? Thanks dude! You’re a star. Now get me to the airport. I’ve got a plane to catch. Preferably before the tornado gets here.
So I’m always getting messages like “Good morning Andrew! According to
crystal-ball-forecasting.com here, it’s a fine day for you today!” Well, thanks for checking, but he means “nice” and no, it’s not nice today, actually.
Since Dad is a weather nut, I’ve been paying closer than normal attention to the forecasts here. And there’s something strange going on: the weather forecasts don’t ever seem to have anything to do with the weather. I think the problem is that Crystal Ball Forecasting Inc get their data from the Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology, who appropriately enough seem to use a crystal ball for their weather forecasting. Don’t believe me? I shall now demonstrate.
The quoted portions are from the Bureau of Meteorology’s morning forecast on the day given, usually leaving out the part about what the wind was expected to be. Copyright © 2008-2009 Commonwealth of Australia in right of Her Majesty the Queen. The comments are from my emails conveying the weather forecast to my Dad on those days.
23 Sep 2008
Forecast for Wednesday:
“Cloudy. Isolated showers or drizzle but fine for the most part.”
What the hell is that supposed to mean? “Fine”? What are they smoking?
1 Nov 2008
How’s this for a weather forecast for Saturday night:
“Overcast with the chance of a shower, otherwise fine.”
So do I need a rain jacket or not?
10 Mar 2009
“Chance of a shower or two, more likely during the morning and then again at night. A cloudy morning, but sunny breaks developing during the day.”
Of course, it was bright and sunny all day.
3 May 2009
The forecast today:
Partly cloudy near the coast with a few showers, clearing later. Mostly fine with lengthy sunny periods in the west.
I would have taken that to mean it’s raining out west, except that would imply it was raining over the city’s water supply catchment area, which never happens. So they were probably right about it not raining there after all.
26 May 2009
“Fine and mostly sunny until a shower or two develops”
2 Jun 2009
As at 07:30, the forecast for the day is:
“Cloudy with a few showers, and periods of light rain developing.”
I’m glad you clarified that.
19 Jun 2009
“A few showers. Cloudy periods. Morning fog patches.”
Since it is nice and sunny out, I think I’ll go out for a coffee in the park now.
15 Jul 2009
“Cloud increasing and a shower or two developing in the afternoon with the chance of a thunderstorm and small hail.”
Which is clearly why it is sunny out right now at the cafe where I’m sitting.
I gave them the benefit of the doubt, though: it does “change” here sometimes, so I most certainly brought my raincoat with me this afternoon when I went a wandering. Nothing to do with the Bureau of Meteorology; that’s simply a Murphy’s Law thing.
“A shower or two, with a chance of tsunami. Light to moderate south to southwest wind.”
Which admittedly is nothing to joke about, but given their track record…
4 Jul 2009
For once the official forecast was quite dull. So I improvised:
“Lengthy sunny periods, except for heavy morning showers, afternoon fog patches, chance of an evening thunderstorm. Possible snow overnight.”
Dad missed my note saying that I was joking; he simply commented “seems par for the course”.
There is a happy ending to this story, though: I finally found out what “fine” meant!
Apparently they’re trying to say:
“It won’t rain today”.
Pardon me for being underwhelmed.
James Andrewartha wrote in suggesting a page of terms used by BOM, including “fine”. Thanks! Doesn’t excuse the fact they’re still using the word differently than the rest of the English speaking world, though