Meaning of WEATHER in English


The popular view of the British weather is that it rains all the time. This is not true and Britain gets no more rain in an average year than several other European countries. In some summers the country goes for weeks with nothing more than a shower . Perhaps the main characteristic of Britain’s weather is that it is hard to predict. This is probably why people regularly listen to weather forecasts on radio and television. However, the weathermen (= people who present the forecasts) are sometimes wrong. Many people remember especially their failure to predict the Great Storm of 1987 which caused a lot of damage.

The British are not used to extremes. In summer the temperature rarely goes higher than 30°C (86° F). Heatwaves are greeted with newspaper headlines such as ‘Phew! What a scorcher!’ In winter the south and west are fairly mild . The east and north get much colder, with hard frosts and snow. A cold snap (= period of very cold weather) or heavy falls of snow can bring transport to a halt.

Samuel Johnson observed that ‘when two Englishmen meet their first talk is of the weather’, and this is still true. The weather is a safe, polite and impersonal topic of conversation. Most British people would agree that bright sunny weather, not too hot and with enough rain to water their gardens, is good. Bad weather usually means dull days with a lot of cloud and rain or, in winter, fog or snow. The British tend to expect the worst as far as the weather is concerned and it is part of national folklore that summer bank holidays will be wet. It may be pouring with rain , teeming down , bucketing , or even just drizzling or spitting , but it will be wet.

The US is large enough to have several different climates , and so the weather varies between regions. In winter the temperature in New York state is often -8° C (17° F), or lower; in the summer in Arizona it is often above 40° C (104° F). Arizona gets less than an inch (2.5 centimetres) of rain most months; the state of Washington, DC can get 6 inches (15 centimetres). The Northeast and Midwest have cold winters with a lot of snow, and summers that are very hot and humid. The South has hot, humid summers but moderate winters. The Southwest, including Arizona and New Mexico , is dry and warm in the winter and very hot in the summer. Some parts of the US suffer tornadoes (= strong circular winds) and hurricanes.

In autumn people put storm doors and windows on their houses, an extra layer of glass to keep out the cold wind. Cities in the snow belt have several snow days each winter, days when people do not go to school or work. But then snow ploughs clear the roads and life goes on, even when the weather is bad.

In the US it is considered boring to talk about the weather, but some phrases are often heard. In the summer people ask, ‘Is it hot enough for you?’ or say that the street is ‘hot enough to fry an egg’. When it rains they say ‘Nice day if you’re a duck’, or that they do not mind the rain because ‘the farmers need it’.

Many people in Britain and the US, as elsewhere, are worried about global warming due to emissions from vehicles and factories of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) and any climatic changes this may cause.

Oxford guide to British and American culture English vocabulary.      Руководство по британской и американской культуре, Оксфордский английский словарь.