Meteorologists: Let's Stop Using Our Habitual Bad Grammar

I'm certain that other professions have examples of poor English that have crept into their lexicons. Fine. But, in the case of meteorology, we serve the public on a day-to-day basis and people outside our field see what we write.

Weather science is under-respected, under-valued, and, in some cases, underfunded. In spite of saving tens of thousands (yes, really!) lives each year and billions in property damage, we still have to deal with nonsense like this.

With all of that said, we do not help our case when we continually undermine the quality of our work with bad grammar. And, we do it frequently.

Example: "Severe limits."
I hear this one all the time. What we actually mean is, "thunderstorms are expected to exceed severe thresholds." The severe thresholds are hail 1" in diameter and thunderstorm-generated wind gusts of 58 mph. One inch and 58 mph are not "limits" because they can be, and often are, exceeded.

Example: From last week.
The grammar in this product is so bad I hardly know where to begin. I doubt a member of the public that experiences a 72 mph wind gust, especially if it topples a tree in their front yard, will consider it to be "insignificant." How about just making the forecast of wind speeds and allowing the user to decide whether it is significant or not?

Example: "Hefty thunderstorms." I thought this one had died out but heard it again last week. It originated with the late John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel. Here are the definitions of "hefty."
None of those meanings apply to the noun, "thunderstorm."

And, finally, yesterday's "Capital Weather Gang" weighed in with two studies pertaining to poor word usage in forecasts of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

While I may be asking the impossible, could we choose to stop using poor grammar, at least when we communicate outside of our profession? For the most part, weather science does great work. Please let the language we use reflect that quality. And, yes, I'm looking the course curricula in America's collegiate meteorology schools. 



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