Met Office
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'Baltic', 'sad' and 'chucking it down', the Met Office considers targetted weather updates with regional slang to avoid misinterpretation.

  • The language of weather: The most popular slang terms for rain revealed (per region)
  • A symbol mistake: UK public often misinterpret weather symbols
  • #3wordweather: The Met Office needs your help, from February 1st the Met Office invites the public to describe their local weather in 3 words. This information will be used to inform how the weather forecast is presented in the future.

When it comes to weather, Britain has always had a fascination with slang terms – particularly when describing torrential rain. Whether it’s raining cats and dogs, pelting it down or bucketing, the glossary is as inventive as it is diverse but the broad range of terminology can make it even harder to communicate the weather forecast, according to new research from the Met Office. And it’s not just the words that forecasters use to communicate the weather that are causing confusion, it turns out that weather symbols are confusing too.

A pilot survey from the Met Office recently highlighted the different perceptions and use of language to describe rain across the country. The Met Office is now appealing to the public to help them identify the words they use to describe the weather in their area.

Although the term ‘pouring’ is the most widely used word to describe heavy rain nationally, the cities of Cardiff, Brighton and Liverpool were found to favour ‘pissing it down’ (42%, 38% and 35% respectively). Mancunians, meanwhile, were revealed as the most likely to say that rain was ‘lashing it down’, with half (57%) of people surveyed in the Black Country preferring to say ‘bucketing’.

The people of Newcastle and Leeds apparently like the term ‘chucking it down’, with 6 in 10 people from Newcastle (60%) and 58% of people in Leeds describing torrential rain this way. Although many might assume that those in Cambridge and Oxford would avoid the use of slang, each similarly favoured the term ‘chucking it’ to describe heavy rain (83% and 57%).

Glaswegians are most likely to use the term ‘pelting it’ and Londoners prefer to say ‘caning it’. Despite being almost 90 miles apart, the people of Birmingham and Bristol share the use of ‘tipping it down’, with 44% and 41% saying this respectively. Amusingly, a fifth (18%) of people in Southampton claim to break into song when it rains heavily, performing renditions of ‘it’s raining, pouring, the old man is snoring’.

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