Reader Irritated by Redundant Weather-Forecast Terms

Weather icon - A look at redundancies in the weather forecast“It drives me nuts when my local weather forecasters use ‘evening hours’ to describe the weather in the evening,” a reader complains.

“They also say ‘morning hours,’ ‘afternoon hours’ and ‘overnight hours.’ Wouldn’t it be sufficient to simply use morning, afternoon, evening and overnight?”

Because of my ruthless editor’s acute sensitivity to redundancies, my first inclination was to agree. Then I started to pay attention to my local weather reports, and I noticed the same tendency to add “hours” to a time of day or time span.

Is this what meteorologists learn when they train to be television weather forecasters? I wondered. 

Because forecasting the weather is a scientific endeavor, I decided I should approach this by searching for scientific weather terms. I hit pay dirt when I happened on the website timeanddate.com and its detailed Weather Glossary and Terminology.

The official weather-related terms that follow are based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service; the Met Office in the United Kingdom; Canada’s Weather Office; and the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology.

You can’t get much more scientific that that!

Here, my dear-but-annoyed reader, is your answer:

morning: sunrise to noon or midnight to noon, depending on context

afternoon: noon to sunset

evening: sunset to midnight

day: sunrise to sunset

night: sunset to sunrise

So, yes, adding “hours” to any of these designated times of day is indeed redundant.

(For regular readers, note that the definitions for noon and midnight were a topic of my recent blog about whether we celebrate New Year’s at 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.)

I spent time perusing the entire list with fascination, clarifying, for example, the difference between Celsius (a temperature scale in which zero is the freezing point of water and one hundred is the boiling point) and Fahrenheit (the standard scale used to measure temperature in the United States, in which the freezing point of water is 32 degrees and the boiling point is 212 degrees). I always have to stop to think when my Canadian friends refer to temperatures in their country.

From acid rain and Arctic high to zonal wind and Zulu time, the terms on this site leave no weather stone unturned. They could be fodder for games of Crossword and Trivial Pursuit, or they could simply satisfy your intellectual curiosity.

Visit timeanddate.com. If you don’t learn something, I’ll be surprised.

And please send me your language pet peeves. Exploring word use, misuse, meanings and connotations can help us all.

Kathy Watson
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Kathy Watson

Kathy has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)

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Kathy Watson
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