The Daily Express and weather reporting
THE Daily Express loves weather. It’s often on the paper’s front page. It’s almost as if with no Madeleine McCann (f1) or Princess Diana stories F2), the News Bot presses f3 on the keyboard. Today’s headline declares as bald fact:
“Freezing Weather Will Kill”
Nathan Rao licks his finger and sticks it to the wind:
Health chiefs issued a nationwide alert yesterday warning of a killer freeze on the way.
The killer freeze is soon given a nickname, like serial killers get:
Dubbed the “Beast from the East”, the weather system is set to roar in from Siberia bringing widespread snow and freezing temperatures.
Who will die?
Older people in particular were warned to take extra care to keep warm as night-time temperatures are expected to plunge as low as -9C (16F), sending death rates soaring.
How bad is it?
The Department of Health took the rare step of issuing a Level 2 cold weather health warning for the whole of England, running from 6pm tomorrow until 9am on Tuesday. The alert was triggered because it is likely temperatures will remain below 2C for 48 hours or more.
The full weather waning actually says:
Current alert level: Level 2 – Alert and Readiness in one or more regions of England
Issued at: Friday 27 January 2012 at 10:05
There is a 70% probability of severe cold weather between 1800 on Sunday and 0900 on Tuesday in parts of England. This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services. Please refer to the national Cold Weather Plan and your Trust’s emergency plan for appropriate preventive action.
The Met Office has more on that warning:
It is expected to gradually turn colder over the weekend and into next week as high pressure builds allowing winds to turn easterly. The transition to a cold but more settled weather pattern next week may be preceded with a period of sleet or snow later on Sunday and Monday across some western or central areas but there remains uncertainty in detail. The next couple of nights will also see an overnight frost in many areas with some icy patches forming on untreated surfaces, particularly tonight in northern and western areas. There is a good chance that this alert will be extended beyond 0900 Tuesday over the coming days.
The Beast for the East is not really trying.
There are four weather alert levels, ranging from 1 to 4.
Level 2- Yellow – Alert and readiness
Triggered by the Met Office as soon as the risk is 60% or above for any of the three thresholds to be breached. This is an important stage for social and healthcare services who will be working to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential period of cold weather.
That’s not as bad as Level 3:
Amber — Cold weather action
Triggered by the Met Office when we are experiencing weather which breaches any of the three thresholds. This stage requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups.
It’s not as bad as Level 4:
Red – Emergency
Reached when a period of cold weather is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. A level 4 warning would be issued on advice from, or in collaboration with, our Government partners. At this level, the health effects may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.
Nathan Rao thinks Level 2 is a killer. He continues:
A Department of Health spokesman said: “There is a 60-70 per cent chance of all regions having temperatures low enough to give rise to significant health risks. A Department of Health spokesman Low temperatures can especially be dangerous for the young and the elderly or those with chronic disease.”
That sounds a lot like the standard advice given on the Met Office’s website:
“Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.”
At least the Met Office’s staff are all in agreement.
But what this story needs to make it classic Daily Express weather scare story is a vested interest group adding to the sense of looming doom:
Age UK’s charity director Michelle Mitchell said: “Winter deaths figures are shocking. Around 3.5million older people live in fuel poverty and one in three over-60s live in houses which fail the decent-home standard.”
The cold snap is the result of cold air moving in from Russia meeting mild air arriving from the Atlantic and “battling” over the UK.
It’s the, erm, Cold War!
Nathan Rao is the man in the know. Let’s see what else he’s reported:
Daily Express, 8 October 2011: “-20C To hit us in weeks”
Britain is braced for an Arctic blast which will bring record low temperatures within weeks, forecasters said last night… Britain is likely to be hit by temperatures as low as minus 20C – perhaps even lower – and widespread heavy snow as early as the start of next month.
Britain faces a sudden shivering end to the exceptionally warm late autumn with temperatures plunging towards Siberian levels. Winter weather will arrive with a vengeance with temperatures well below zero within the next fortnight.
BRITAIN is on track for the warmest November since records began 353 years ago, with the balmy weather set to last for the rest of autumn.