Bitterly cold – what happens when we run out of superlatives?

Just as a reminder a superlative is described by the dictionary in Google as:-

Figure 1 – Courtesy of Google

I’ve heard so many reports across social media describing just how cold, very cold, bitter or raw this weekend will be across the country as colder northeasterly air spreads southwestward across the country, that I thought I’d take a look. Here are the forecast temperatures across the country for Sunday (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of Twitter and the BBC

And here are what the mean maximum temperatures for January look like across the UK (fig 3).

Figure 3 background map courtesy of BBC and Twitter

So all this incessant hype I’ve heard in social media about the coming change of weather type, and talk of just how cold this weekend will be, should be taken with a pinch of salt, because although it’s turned colder, in reality and for a variety of reasons it’s not that cold at all.

No doubt, the ‘feel like’ or ‘wind-chill’ temperature figures will be brought into play as winds strengthen across southern areas on Sunday, but let’s not get carried away with the fact that these temperature are nothing out of the ordinary for January and put them into perspective.

That’s not a knife –  that’s a knife!

Here’s a look back at the 12th of January 1987 (fig 4) to see a situation that does merit the superlative ‘bitter’, to describe the coldest and snowiest days spells of weather that I can remember in my lifetime in the British Isles.

Figure 4
Figure 5

Author: xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds

One thought on “Bitterly cold – what happens when we run out of superlatives?”

  1. Personally I don’t like it when the media use superlatives to describe the weather, particularly ones that are more appropriate to describe human characteristics, such as “cruel”, or “treacherous”. Also such terms as “trying to rain”.
    The MO have issued a yellow warning for ice here, from 17:00 tonight to 10:00 tomorrow. However, I don’t think it is very appropriate, since there is no moisture to speak of and the temp. isn’t forecasted to go below 2c.
    There is some rain forecasted around 19:00 which may change things.

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