Weather reports

Weather reports and forecasts

UKMA wishes to see an end to the confusing muddle of information which much of the media (including the BBC and broadsheet newspapers) use in their weather reports and forecasts. We consider that the use of inches of rainfall alongside metres of visibility and windspeeds in miles per hour inhibits readers and listeners from being able to relate the sizes or values of different phenomena. We particularly deplore the practice of giving cold temperatures in degrees Celsius and hot temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit. This is sensational reporting which does not help people to relate summer and winter temperatures or to judge how much warmer it is, say, in July than in January. The continued use of the obsolete Fahrenheit scale for weather reports is also inconsistent with the now widespread use of Celsius for ovens, cooking recipes and basic science lessons at school.

UKMA believes that the Government should take the lead and make it mandatory for publicly-funded bodies, such as the Meteorological Office and local authorities, to use exclusively metric units in weather reports and forecasts (including in their press releases). The appropriate units which should be used are as follows:

Temperature degrees Celsius (°C)
Rainfall millimetres (mm)
Snowfall centimetres (cm)
Visibility metres (m) or
kilometres (km)
Windspeed metres per second (m/s) or
kilometres per hour (km/h)
Pressure hectopascals (hPa)

Note: The hectopascal (symbol hPa) is an SI unit. It is numerically equal to the millibar which is an old CGS unit.

While it would not be appropriate to make this a mandatory requirement of the independent media, UKMA recommends that all weather reporting in the UK should be in exclusively metric measures.