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    Let us shut our eyes,
    And talk about the weather.
    Chorus. Yes, yes, let’s talk about the weather.
    – Gilbert and Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance

    Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
    – attrib. to Mark Twain (perhaps mistakenly)
Let us talk about weather this week.

heat island – an urban area where the temperature is consistently higher than in the surrounding region
[Note: due to human activity and to heat retention by buildings, concrete, and asphalt]
    "It is well known", he said, "that changes in land use will cause changes in average ground temperature. Cities are hotter than the surrounding countryside-what is called the `urban heat island' effect. Croplands are warmer than forested lands, and so on."
    – Michael Crichton, State Of Fear
 
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"How beautifully blue the sky,
the glass is rising very high.
Continue fine I hope it may
and yet it rained but yesterday.
Tomorrow it may pour again.
I hear the country wants some rain.
Yet people say (I know not why)
that we shall have a warm July."

Ah, nostalgia, nostalgia - sigh Roll Eyes. Many times have I sung that one Smile.

In Yorkshire (in the north of England) when it's very cold, they say "ee, it be raaht nitherin'".

I've picked up from somewhere the phrase "chucking it down in stair rods" to describe heavy rain.

I listen to the BBC Shipping Forecast every night, which gives detailed weather conditions for sailors around the British Isles. The text is read at moderate dictation speed in impeccable BBC accents by a rota of BBC continuity announcers. If you want to listen to it, you can do so here.

I've done a bit of googling and found some interesting Canadian weather words.
This is a fascinating article on Orcadian weather words (from the Orkney Islands off the top of Scotland).

There are other fascinating terms from other dialects here.
 
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"Let us shut our eyes / And talk about the weather" would make an excellent subtitle for Crichton's book.
 
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pluvial – relating to rain; or, having abundant rain
    Columbia Encyclopedia; entry on Sahara Desert:
    Water is present … at greater depths in huge underground aquifers believed to be filled with water dating from the Pleistocene epoch, when the Sahara was much wetter than it is today. The more than 20 lakes (called chotts in the north) and areas of salt flats and boggy salt marshes are also considered relics from this pluvial period.
Our entry concerns 'wetness', but our quote gives a 'dryness' bonus word, and OED gives more.

chott; shott – a shallow brackish lake or marsh, usually dry in the summer and covered with salt
playa – a temporary lake after rain; the desert basin, barren and salty, where that lake forms
sabkha – a flat depression that regularly floods and evaporates, leaving layers of clays and salts
kavir – a salt-desert, in Persia
 
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I wonder if there is an antonym form of pluvial, such as unpluvial. Then I could say that we've had a very unpluvial spring! Wink
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
I wonder if there is an antonym form of pluvial, such as unpluvial. Then I could say that we've had a very unpluvial spring!


It's been pluviating like crazy in SF.
 
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Theme song for meteorologists ...

Both Sides Now
(JONI MITCHELL)

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and they snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all ...
 
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incus – the flattened, anvil-shaped top of a thundercloud (also, a certain bone within the ear)
[pl. incudes. From L. for 'anvil']
Unforgettably dramatic pictures are here and here

How odd that something as dramatic as a thunderstorm has generated very few words. The Greek root bronte, meaning 'thunder', appears in only one reasonably-common word, which does not even concern weather: it names the very large dinosaur formerly called brontosaurus ('thunder-lizard'). The handful of other bronte words are all very rare, and for the most part they are both obvious and useless. Brontograph; brontophobia; brontometer. Really now, how often will you have occasion to refer to a brontograph?

But one rare bronte word could be useful. We all have shuddered at the muffled rumbling of distant thunder. What do you call that sound? You call it a 'brontide' when it's produced by seismic events: volcanic eruption, earthquake, etc. Brontide would be a wonderful, useful word for that familiar rumbling sound from thunder itself. Some weather-glossaries even define it so, but I can find no examples of it ever being used that way.
    Dishes rattled, plaster cracked, pictures fell from the walls. At the first ominous rumble, residents of Niagara Falls swept to a panicky conclusion: something drastic had happened to the city's most precious scenic attraction. Buffalo hastily reported that the shock had registered on the seismograph of Canisius College. An engineer estimated the break to be 125 feet across and 30 feet deep. Said a Page One headline in the sober New York Times: AMERICAN FALLS NOW A HORSESHOE.
    . . .But the voice of calm soon fell on reddened ears. After a closer look at their instruments, Canisius seismologists blurted: "Only a brontide [a low muffled sound caused by feeble earth tremors]." After a closer look at the Falls, Niagara Park [officials] found them undamaged.
    . . .Geologists shrugged at all the stir. Nature would wipe out the falls anyway in a scant 12,000 years.
    Only a Brontide, Time Magazine, Sept. 30, 1946

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Very cool words!

I love thunderstorms. I love going out on a covered porch to watch them roll over and surround us. When I was in Wyoming as a Girl Scout (good god, was it really 27 years ago?) I was camping on a mesa when a thunderstorm came in. I could hear it rolling over the land, dip down into the valley, and climb over the mesa. Very cool, and more than a little intimidating. Nice memory - thanks.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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playa – a temporary lake after rain; the desert basin, barren and salty, where that lake forms


Gives new meaning to the rap phrase "don't be a playa hata". Big Grin


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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graupel – granular snow pellets; also called soft hail
[Longer explanation in next post. The 'au' is pronounced like the 'ow' in 'howl'.]
    Building thunderheads began to growl, and graupel started to fall. We descended to safer ground via a couloir west of the midway ledge.
    – John Harlin, American Alpine Journal 2003: The World's Most Significant Climbs

    An unusual form of precipitation descended on Utah's capital Sunday: graupel. Graupel is snow pellets that form when snowflakes stick together, said Linda Cheng, meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office.
    – Joe Bauman, Deseret News (Salt Lake City), April, 2003
Bonus word: couloir – a deep mountainside gorge or gully, esp. in the Swiss Alps
[Fr. couler, to slide, to flow]
 
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Quoting:

. . .I looked out the window and was amazed to see that three or four inches of new snow had gathered on the ground. But when I walked outside I discovered that what was falling was not snow. Or sleet. Or hail. And it was certainly not rain.
. . .White pellets, approximately 1/3 of an inch (and more) wide and of roughly spherical shape, were falling from the sky. The pellets were soft yet not quite mushy, and slightly resilient. The sound of their fall was unlike anything I'd heard before or have heard since. … this strange substance … I checked a book and found out that I had been walking in a fall of the rarest major form of precipitation: graupel.
. . .Graupel is sometimes called "soft hail" or "snow grains." But when you actually experience it you'll be convinced that it really does deserve its own special name. Graupel is actually an aggregate of cloud droplets, sometimes with a cluster of ice needles or a star-shaped snow crystal at the center. Graupel itself is sometimes the core for hailstone. It is most common in blizzards and lake-effect snowstorms. Graupel can be electrified enough to cause burst of static noise when it hits a radio antenna.
. . .Perhaps one day you will have the chance to see this precipitation and ask friends, "Guess what it's doing outside?" All of their attempts will utterly fail, because it won't be raining, snowing, hailing, or sleeting outside. It'll be graupeling.
– Fred Schaaf, Mother Earth News, Feb-March, 1994
 
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quote:
I love thunderstorms. I love going out on a covered porch to watch them roll over and surround us.

I agree, CW. We love to go out on our porch during a storm. It is so romantic!

I wonder if there is a word for a dog that goes crazy during a thunderstorm! Mad Ours actually has jumped through our porch screen and run to the next suburb where the police picked her up.
 
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Originally posted by Caterwauller:
[QUOTE]playa – a temporary lake after rain; the desert basin, barren and salty, where that lake forms


Playa is also the Spanish word for beach.
 
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I like thunderstorms too, but my grandmother was terrified of them. I used to stay with my grandparents during the long school holidays of Christmas, Easter and Summer and when it thundered (or even if a thunderstorm threatened), she would take the dog and go and sit in the cellar till she was told it had finished. We had to put cutlery in drawers and turn all the mirrors round to face the wall as well.

Mind you, she had a reason to be scared of lightning. I don't know all the details because I wasn't there at the time and it was many years ago, but this is roughly what happened.

My grandparents lived on a farm which was surrounded by fields and there was only one other house for about half a mile in any direction. My grandparents' kitchen was long and narrow. It had an old fashioned kitchen range like this (it's not the same, but it's the closest match I could find) opposite the window, and there was about 10 feet of space between the window and the range. In those days people lived mainly in the kitchen (which was usually at the back of the house) and they kept the "front room" for visitors and special occasions. My grandmother and uncle were sitting in the kitchen by the range with my grandmother on one side and my uncle on the other. My uncle had just settled back in his chair after stirring the embers in the range when a fireball came through the window and burned a hole in the rug on the floor between them! I can't remember whether they said the window was open or closed at the time. The fire in the range was always burning all year round because my grandmother cooked all the family meals in it, so that was no indication as to whether the window would be open or not. In fact, the window may have been open because of the oppressive humid heat which builds up before thunderstorms.

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isobar – a line on a weather map connecting points of equal atmospheric pressure.
[isopiesticnoun: an isobar; adj. having equal pressure; isobaric]

Some people take their isobars very seriously, as the BBC recently learned when it tried to change how it displays weather reports.
    Scottish fishermen's leaders joined the growing clamour of protest against the BBC's new weather graphics, claiming [they] could put the lives of trawler crews in danger. [The leadership] warns that the new format does not include details of isobars or wind speeds - information vital to skippers trying to operate their vessels safely at sea. "Our members are extremely dependent on weather forecasts to determine either whether to go to sea in the first instance or seek shelter when at sea. Our members have asked us to express as strongly as possible their objections that the new format does not disclose either isobars or wind speeds, both of which are fundamental to deciding whether or not to go to or remain at sea."
    – Frank Urquhart, The Scotsman, May 20, 2005
This was part of a larger controversy, including regional rivalries. How did it end? Adam Sherwin of The Times told the story with typical British humor, on May 28:
    Scotland gets its day in the sun as BBC straightens weather map
    …the BBC bowed to complaints over its £1 million new weather forecast. Viewers will see more of the North of England and Scotland after viewers said that the South of England had been given too much prominence. The aerial view will be "straightened" to give the impression of equal representation to points north of Birmingham.
    . . .The Scottish National Party hailed the return of Stornoway to its former prominence … A resurgent Scotland will be seen in forecasts from this morning. Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP, urged Scots to fight on for the return of isobars, wind speed and direction. But the BBC said that it did not intend to make any further changes. Forecasts continue to depict isobars "where they are helpful to viewers". Special consideration will be given to fishing and farming communities, who find isobars particularly useful.
    . . .Viewers will also be given time to orientate themselves. The "zooming" speed has been reduced after people said that it induced motion sickness.
'orientate'? What do you think of that?
 
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orientate'? What do you think of that?

Sounds fine to me. It means to get yourself sorted out in relation to a situation - usually literally spacially but possibly (as is partly the case here) figuratively.


Richard English
 
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I hate it, as I have posted previously. I see "orientate" as similar to "irregardless." There is no point at all in "orientate"...the word is "orient."
 
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I was fascinated to read that old thread again, Kalleh! In particular there was what may well be Richard's first post here on the superiority of British beer!


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Indeed, arnie, a fun look back. Two things noticed.


Kalleh, speaking of pet peeves, said,
    I hate 'feel badly', too--though there are some sexy connotations there!!!!

    Why say "orientate" when you can say, "orient"? Imagine "orientate" developed when people began to use it wrong.
Er, would that be 'wrongly'? Wink


A bit after Richard's noted post, Bob mentioned a friend of his trying to sample as many different beers as possible. Says Bob, "Two years ago he passed his seven thousandth different beer."

Not all 7,000 passed in the same WC, I hope? Roll Eyes Eek
 
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I was fascinated to read that old thread again, Kalleh! In particular there was what may well be Richard's first post here on the superiority of British beer!

Good heavens, that was back in the ante-1845 days when Kalleh thought that Harp was a decent beer!

And wfc was still posting - where has she gone?


Richard English
 
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I've been spending quite some time clicking around the old threads. Here's one I discovered that predates our recent thread about other words for drunkenness.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Yes, it was fun reading those old posts, I agree! Thunderchicken? Wildflowerchild! And sweet Morgan!

I still remember Arnie saying to me, "O ye of little faith." At the time I didn't know that Arnie is always right! Wink

Yes, Richard, every so often I try a Harp for old time's sake. I can't imagine what I saw in it!
 
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undercast – a solid cloud layer, as viewed from above
[mostly used in pilot reporting of in-flight weather conditions. not in OED]
    Capt. Blodgett heard the B-52 explode. Horrified, Van Scyoc and Dodd [flying F-100s] pulled around in a tight turn. They saw the huge left wing fold and hit the fuselage. The F-100 pilots watched for parachutes. But they saw none before the stricken plane fell into the undercast. … Numbly, Lt. Van Scyoc went through the standard emergency procedures. He tried to get below the undercast and locate any survivors.
    – Robert L. De Hare, One Of My Missiles Has Fired!, Air Classics, Aug. 2004
 
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I found a word that I hadn't heard of before, but that is never very notable. However, Shu hadn't heard of it either, and that is notable!

Derecho -- a long-lasting line of thunderstorms, which is precisely what we need here in Illinois where we have had 17% of our normal rains!
 
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Ever heard of firenado? I hadn't. It's an intense tornado-like whirlwind that forms in the plume of heated air rising above a large fire, made visible by smoke (and occasionally flame, if the fire is large enough) drawn into the whirlwind. It was written about on the Chicago Tribune weather page today.
 
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