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Weather and Climate Vocabulary

a blanket of fog moderate

arid muggy
be confined to nippy
blowy oppressive
boiling overcast with
break in the clouds patches of fog/mist
breezy precipitation
chilly rainfall
chucking it down roasting
clammy scorching hot
close shower
cloudy soak to the skin
deluge solar radiation
dizzle stifling
downpour storm
driving rain/snow strong/high/light/biting/gale-force wind
drought strong/weak sun
flood sultry
fog/mist comes down/lifts sunny
freak/poor weather conditions sweltering
freezing thick cloud
fresh/crisp/thick snow thick/dense fog
frosty thunder
hail to rain/snow heavily
hard frost torrential rain
haze unbroken sunshine
heavy weather deteriorates/improves/is getting better/worse
humid weather forecast
it’s pouring whirlwind
it’s raining cats and dogs wind blows/whistles
looks like rain wind picks up/dies down
mild windy

20/03/2007 UK

Strong northerly winds blew down across the UK for the third day in a row, bringing wintry showers which gave a
covering of snow in places. A line of more organised showers of snow, sleet and hail moved down the east coast of
England overnight, reaching Kent after sunrise. Some small accumulations of snow were reported in East Anglia and
Kent during the early morning, melting swiftly in the sun. A persistent band of wintry showers lying from the
southwest of Wales to west Cornwall at first, gradually moved westwards during the
day, with only westernmost areas hanging on to the showers by the afternoon. Frequent showers over northern
Ireland and northwest Scotland gradually died out during the afternoon as high pressure built in from the west. Most
places had some good sunny spells in between the showers, especially away from the coasts with lengthy dry periods
across much of Southern Scotland, the Midlands, Wales and much of Southern England. It was a cold day with
temperatures generally below average over most parts of the UK.

Weather help for planning a European visit

For most people — except maybe weather buffs — bad weather, especially bad weather you aren't prepared for, can
ruin a trip. If you're traveling to Europe, you're heading to a part of the world with much less turbulent weather than
the USA. You won't have to worry about a hurricane ruining your vacation and severe thunderstorms and tornadoes
are extremely rare. As many travelers have learned, however, floods and heat waves are possible. Still, as Robert
Henson says in his book The Rough Guide to Weather: "...most of Europe trundles along with relatively few weather
worries." (This book, by the way, is a good investment for travelers since it includes details you won't find elsewhere.)
"Normal" summers in parts of Europe can be warm — but not as hot as large parts of the USA. This is why first-time
travelers from the USA should know that air conditioning isn't as common in Europe as in the USA — although its use
is growing. This is a reason, in addition to a better chance of snaring a low air fare, to go in May or September rather
than during the summer months, if you can. Even though you are not likely to encounter dramatic weather while
traveling in Europe, you will enjoy your trip more if you are ready for the normal, day-to-day weather. You should be
prepared for gray skies just about any time of the year and treasure the sunny days — maybe you'll be lucky and
have lots of those. If you look at monthly rainfall averages, you'll see that Europe is dry compared to much of the
USA east of the Mississippi River. But don't be fooled into thinking you aren't likely to run into rainy days. In general,
you'll find just about as many days with rain as in the eastern USA, but not as much rain falls, on the average, on a
wet day in Europe. A good way to begin trip planning is by going to the current conditions and
forecast pages for the cities you plan to visit. If you're about to leave, you'll find the latest reported weather and
forecasts for five days as well as a link to 10-day forecasts from The Weather Channel. To find a city forecast page,
type the name of a city or a nation in the box at the top of this page that says "Find a forecast" and click "Go."
(European postal codes don't work.) If you've typed in the name of a city, you'll go directly to the forecast page for
that city. If you typed in the name of a nation, you'll go to a list of links to all of the city forecast pages we have for
that nation. You can also go to our European forecasts page. At the top of the page you'll see a temperature forecast
map for Europe. (Clicking on that map takes you to a precipitation forecast map.) Under the temperature map you'll
see links to many of Europe's larger cities. Under those, you'll see links to each nation in Europe, which takes you to a
list of all of the forecast pages we have for that nation. The temperature and forecast maps are worth a glance the
day you leave the USA for Europe since they will be forecasts for the next day, the day you arrive, unless you are
taking one of the very few flights to Europe from the USA during the day, not overnight. No matter how you reach a
city's forecast page, at the bottom you'll find links to "Daily averages" and "Monthly averages." A caution: Not as
much data about weather averages is available for foreign cities as for the USA. The daily averages for each city
includes each day's time of sunrise and sunset. This can be especially helpful for planning a trip to Europe because
the amount of daylight, as well as the weather, can be more important than you might think. If you go in the
summer, don't be surprised by the long days. They are longer in northern Europe than in any part of the USA's
contiguous 48 states. You might want to take a sleep mask on a summer trip if you have trouble sleeping when it's
light outside. In the middle of summer in places such as Paris the sun rises about a quarter to six in the morning and
sets around a quarter to 10 at night. Throw in another half hour or so of twilight in the morning and evening, and you
could easily end up trying to go to sleep when it's still light, or being awakened by the morning light earlier than you
like. In the winter, on the other hand, the days are going to be short, and probably dark with clouds. On New Year's
Day, for instance, the sun rises in Paris at 8:22 a.m. and sets at 4:47 p.m.

Climate of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Situated off of the northwest coast
of Europe, these islands extend between 50° and 60°N. The climate of Britain is notoriously variable and changeable
from day to day. Weather is generally cool to mild with frequent cloud and rain, but occasional settled spells of
weather occur in all seasons. Visitors to Britain are often surprised by the long summer days, which are a
consequence of the northerly latitude; in the north of Scotland in midsummer the day is eighteen hours long and
twilight lasts all night. Conversely, winter days are short. The frequent changes of weather affect all parts of the
country in very much the same way; there are no great differences from one part of the country to another. While the
south is usually a little warmer than the north and the west wetter than the east, the continual changes of British
weather mean that, on occasions, these differences may be reversed. Extremes of weather are rare in Britain but they
do occur. For example, in December 1981 and January 1982, parts of southern and central England experienced for a
few days lower temperatures than central Europe and Moscow! During the long spells of hot, sunny weather in the
summers of 1975 and 1976 parts of Britain were drier and warmer than many places in the western
Mediterranean.The greatest extremes of weather and climate in Britain occur in the mountains of Scotland, Wales,
and northern England. Here at altitudes exceeding 600 m/2,000 ft conditions are wet and cloudy for much of the year
with annual rainfall exceeding 1,500mm/60in and in places reaching as much as 5,000mm/200in. These are among
the wettest places in Europe. Winter conditions may be severe with very strong winds, driving rain, or snow blizzards.
In spite of occasional heavy snowfalls on the Scottish mountains, conditions are not really good for skiing and there
has been only a limited development of winter sports resorts. Severe conditions can arise very suddenly on
mountains, so walkers and climbers who go unprepared face the risk of exposure or even frostbite. Conditions may be
vastly different from those suggested by the weather at lower levels. Virtually all permanent settlement in Britain lies
below 300 m/1,000 ft, and at these levels weather conditions are usually much more congenial. As a general rule the
western side of Britain is cloudier, wetter, and milder in winter, with cooler summers than the east (Oban, Belfast,
Cardiff, and Aberystwyth). The eastern side of Britain is drier the year round, with a tendency for summer rain to
be heavier than that of winter. The east is a little colder in winter and warmer in summer ( London, York, and
Edinburgh). Much of central England (Birmingham) has very similar weather to that of the east and south of the
country. The table for Plymouth shows that southwestern England shares the greater summer warmth of southern
England but experiences rather milder and wetter winters than the east of the country. The average number of hours
of sunshine is greatest in the south and southeast of England and least in the north and west. Western Scotland,
Wales, and Northern Ireland have rather less sunshine than most of England. In Britain daily sunshine hours range
from between one and two in midwinter to between five and seven in midsummer. Winter sunshine is much reduced
in Britain because of frequent fogs and low cloud. This is a consequence of winds from the Atlantic and seas
surrounding Britain, which bring high humidity. For the same reason British mountains are particularly cloudy and
wet. The chief differences of weather and climate in Britain can be summed up by saying that Scotland is rarely much
colder than England despite its more northerly latitude. Summers in Scotland, however, are usually shorter and rather
cooler. Wales, western Scotland, and Northern Ireland are wetter the year round than most of England. Northwestern
England and the Lake District are, however, particularly wet and cloudy. Snow may occur anywhere in Britain in
winter or even spring but, except on the hills, it rarely lies for more than a few days. In some winters there may be
very little snow, but every fifteen or twenty years it may lie for some weeks during a prolonged cold spell. Visitors to
Britain will rarely experience severe or unpleasant weather for long unless they venture on the hills. They should be
prepared for rapid changes of weather at all seasons, however, and recognize that there is good reason for weather
being a major talking point in Britain.

High or low pressure

High pressure, or an anticyclone, generally means the weather will be settled - often fine and cloudless. In summer,
though, they can sometimes bring sea and coastal fog. In winter they can also bring a lot of cloud or fog. Winds move
around high pressure in a clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere. Low pressure, or a depression, usually
means the weather will be unsettled, often with plenty of rain (or snow) and strong winds or gales. Winds circulate
around low pressure in an anti clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere.

These are usually associated with low pressure and there are three types:

 Warm front: warmer air moving in, and along the line of the front rain usually falls.
 Cold front: colder air moving in - often with a change in wind direction to a more northerly direction. Again
you can usually expect a band of rain, often followed by showers.
 Occluded front: a band of rain is on the way.

Wind Chill

Even when temperatures are about average, strong northeasterly winds can make it feel bitterly cold in the UK. Such
a wind is often described as a 'lazy' wind, as it does not appear to go around you, but straight through you instead! In
such conditions weather forecasters often mention "the wind-chill". But what is it? Wind-chill is a measure of the
amount of heat lost from the skin as the wind blows across it. Strictly speaking, the comparison is between an
unclothed individual moving through calm air at a brisk walking pace and that same individual moving through wind.

Tornado that hit Alabama on March 1 upgraded to EF-4

MILLERS FERRY, Ala. (AP) — The tornado that struck Millers Ferry in rural Wilcox County, Ala., on March 1, killing one
person, has been upgraded to a more powerful EF-4 and could have killed many more if it had hit on a weekend,
weather officials said Tuesday. A statement from the National Weather Service office in Mobile said the tornado's wind
speed estimates have been updated to as strong as 185 mph, based on the destruction of at least two wood frame
homes. The twister's worst damage was at Sand Island, a popular weekend site. "Most of the homes are vacation
homes with part-time residents. If the tornado had struck on the weekend when more people were present, the loss
of life would likely have been greater," the NWS statement said. One person was killed at Sand Island when he
arrived at lunch and his mobile home was torn apart. Neighbors who sought refuge in an underground storm shelter
emerged to find their home was destroyed. About 40 homes were destroyed or damaged at Sand Island. Weather
officials said the tornado had a track 15.6 miles long and a width of about 500 yards at its widest point.


 EF-0 = Light damage: Wind 65 to 85 mph. Causes some damage to siding and shingles.

 EF-1 = Moderate damage: Wind 86 to 110 mph. Considerable roof damage. Winds can uproot trees and
overturn single-wide mobile homes. Flagpoles bend.

 EF-2 = Considerable damage: Wind 111 to 135 mph. Most single-wide mobile homes destroyed. Permanent
homes can shift off foundation. Flagpoles collapse. Softwood trees debarked.

 EF-3 = Severe damage: Wind 136 to 165 mph. Hardwood trees debarked. All but small portions of houses

 EF-4 = Devastating damage: Wind 166 to 200 mph. Complete destruction of well-built residences, large
sections of school buildings.

 EF-5 = Incredible damage: Wind above 200 mph. Significant structural deformation of mid- and high-rise

Note -- The Enhanced F-scale is a set of wind estimates (not measurements) based on damage. It uses
three-second estimated gusts estimated at the point of damage. These estimates vary with height and