British Weather Terms

picture There is no doubt, weather elements like rain, snow, heat, storms, droughts are global phenomena. However, before the day and age of inter-continental traveling, satellites and radar, weather always had a sudden and highly unpredictable impact on local farmers and fishermen. Regional climate and weather phenomena are often as typical as the landscape where they are ocurring and thus often have local names, too. Here, we present a selection of typical British weather terms. This selection is by no means complete and if you should know one or more terms that we have missed, please let us know.


All-hallown summer (Also called Allhallow summer, All Saints' summer)
In English folklore, an old name for a period, like Indian summer, of unseasonable warmth, supposed to occur on the eve of All Hallows day (All Saints Day, November 1). It is mentioned by Shakespeare, but its use appears to have died out.

ban-gull
Summer sea breeze of Scotland.

barber
At sea, a severe storm, carrying sleet, snow or spray, when the temperature is close to feezing.

Blackthorn winter
In England, cold dry winds in the Thames Valley during March and April.

blad
In Scotland, a squall accompanied by heavy rain.

blaze
In Scotland, a sudden blast of dry wind.

blinter
In Scotland, a gust of wind.

blirty
In Scotland, gusts of wind and rain; changeable, uncertain weather.

blout (Also called blouter, blowther, blowthir)
In Scotland, the sudden onset of a storm; sudden downpour of rain or hail with wind.

bluffart
In Scotland, a gust or squall accompanied by a sudden but short fall of snow.

blunk
In England, a fit of squally, tempestuous weather; a sudden squall.

brash
An accumulation of floating ice fragments less than 2 m across, formed by breakage of other ice forms.

brenner
In England, a sharp gust of wind over the water.

Candlemas Eve winds (Also called Candlemas crack)
Heavy winds that often occur in England in February or March. (Candlemas is 2 February.)

cat's nose
In England, a cool northwest wind.

caver (Also spelled kaver)
A gentle breeze in the Hebrides, west of Scotland.

cow-quaker
In England, a May storm (after the cows have been turned out).

custard winds
Cold easterly winds on the northeast coast of England.

deasil
An old English term meaning with the sun, cum sole.

dimpsey
In Cornwall and Devon, very dull, wet weather conditions with low cloud and fine drizzle.

double tide (Also agger, gulder)
A double-headed tide with a high water consisting of two maxima of similar height separated by a small depression (double high water), or a low water consisting of two minima separated by a small elevation (double low water). Very common in the Channel.

doister (Also spelled deaister, dyster)
In Scotland, a severe storm from the sea.

dryth
In England, a dry northerly or easterly wind.

farmer's year
In Great Britain, the 12-month period starting with the Sunday nearest 1 March.

flan
In Scotland, a sudden gust or squall of wind from land.

Flanders storm
In England, a heavy fall of snow coming with the south wind.

flist
In Scotland, a sudden shower accompanied by a squall.

fowan
A dry, scorching wind of Great Britain and the Isle of Man.

gosling blast(Also called gosling storm)
A sudden squall of rain or sleet in England.

gowk storm (Also called gowh's storm)
In England, a storm or gale occurring at about the end of April or the beginning of May.

gowsty
In Northumberland, a term for gusty.

grower's year
In Great Britain, the 12-month period starting 6 November.

haar
A name applied to a wet sea fog or very fine drizzle that drifts in from the sea in coastal districts of eastern Scotland and northeastern England.

haster
In England, a violent storm of rain.

haud
In Scotland, a squall.

haugull (Also called havgull, havgula)
Cold, damp wind blowing from the sea during summer in Scotland and Norway.

helm wind
A strong cold northeasterly wind blowing down into the Eden valley from the western slope of the Crossfell Range (893 m or 2930 ft) in northern England.

hig (Also called ig)
In England, a sharp, short-lived storm of rain or wind.

hurly-burly
A thunderstorm in England.

kaavie
In Scotland, a heavy fall of snow.

kelsher
In England, a heavy fall of rain.

lambing storm (Also called lamb-blasts, lamb-showers, lamb storm)
A slight fall of snow in the spring in England.

land-lash
In England, a heavy fall of rain, accompanied by a high wind.

moor-gallop
In England, a sudden squall across the moors.

northern nanny
A cold storm of hail and wind from the north in England.

mizzle
In Devon and Cornwall, but also Northumberland: very dense fine rain, similar to Scotch mist.

peesweep storm (Also called peaseweep, peesweip, peewit, teuchit, swallow storm)
An early-spring storm in Scotland and England.

perry (Also spelled parrey, parry, pirrie, pirry)
A sudden, heavy fall of rain; a squall in England, sometimes referred to as half a gale.

pilmer
In England, a heavy shower of rain.

piner
In England, a rather strong breeze from north and northeast.

plash
In Northumberland, a downpour of rain.

Robin Hood's wind
In Yorkshire, a local name for a cold and raw northeasterly wind along the E coast and especially around the Whitby area.

scorcher
In England, a very hot day or a period of very hot weather

Scotch mist
A combination of thick mist (or fog) and heavy drizzle occurring frequently in Scotland and in parts of England.

sea turn
In England, a wind coming from the sea, often bringing mist.

sizzler
In England, a very hot day.

St. Luke's summer
In English folklore, a period of fine, calm weather, similar to Indian summer, occurring in October.

St. Martin's summer
In English folklore, a period of fine, calm weather, similar to an Indian summer, occurring in November.

St. Swithin's Day
In English folklore, a day that is popularly supposed to govern the weather of the succeeding 40 days; specifically, if it rains on St. Swithin's Day, 15 July, it will continue to rain for 40 days.

teem
In Northumberland, to pour (rain)

withershins (Also widdershins)
An old English term for against the sun


Lexique