Meteorological reporting-related phraseology obfuscates

Maybe it’s just me.

I was watching two television news broadcasts yesterday evening and two different weather-related reports threw me for a loop, somewhat.

ShipTracks_MODIS_2005may11[1]In one such report, the weathercaster reporting on the megastorm then about to strike the Philippines – typhoon, I believe was the reference – with sustained 100+ mile-per-hour winds and wind gusts up to 200+ miles per hour, characterized the storm as “impressive.”


How about “harmful,” or “dangerous” or “deadly”? But, “impressive”? Seriously?

So, I looked up the word “impressive” in the dictionary. Here is how the 1991 edition of the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary defines “impressive.”

impressive: arousing admiration or respect.”

Like I alluded to earlier – maybe it’s just me.

Then in a second television news broadcast, the on-air meteorologist was reporting on the air quality of the area. The Air Quality Index (AQI) for Fresno County for today is predicted to be 85 with temperatures in the mid-70s. Meanwhile, for Kings County, the predicted AQI is 97, which is approaching the “Unhealthy-for-Sensitive-Groups” range. In continuing, the meteorologist declared that wood-burning in Kings County is “prohibited.”

Soon after that a rundown of the seven-day forecast was given and the predicted high temperature for next Monday is 80 degrees, to which the meteorologist remarked: “Spectacular!”

Spectacular! Really!?

Okay. I had to check out the word “spectacular.” Likewise, the 1991 edition of the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary defines “spectacular” thusly:

spectacular: 1. of or like a spectacle; impressive.”

So, a high temperature of 80 degrees on Nov. 11 in the northern hemisphere arouses admiration or respect?

My reaction? Forget spectacular. How about 80 degrees is way too hot for this time of year?!

Okay. Maybe coming from a meteorologist I can understand it, perhaps even accept it.

Then again, I’m probably coming across as looking like a language expert or know-it-all; trust me, I’m not. In fact, far from it as I often look up word definitions myself to make sure I am using words properly.

But, in the above two cases, this was definitely a case of obfuscating phraseology.

And, wouldn’t you know it, in looking up the definition of meteorology in the dictionary in question, well, guess what?!

meteorology: 1. The science dealing with the atmosphere, weather, and climate. 2. the atmospheric conditions and weather of an area.”

Go figure!

Image above: NASA

Leave a Comment