Weather bureau scraps vague wording in forecasts: patchy, isolated, widespread to go

Weather bureau scraps vague wording in forecasts; patchy, isolated, widespread to go
BY MARK DOMAN
UPDATED FRI AT 7:43PM
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PHOTO The weather bureau has vowed to clarify exactly when people should pack an umbrella.
ABC NEWS: TIM LESLIE
“A chance of scattered showers” is a report Australians have become well accustomed to over the years.

But it will soon be a thing of the past, with the Bureau of Meteorology ruling such forecasts too ambiguous.

The words isolated, patchy and widespread have also been deemed too vague when describing the likelihood of rain.

The adjectives will be replaced with the more direct words of slight, medium, high, or very high.

The bureau said the changes would take effect on Monday in Victoria before being rolled out across Australia.

“As the Bureau’s weather information becomes more detailed and precise, we want the language of our forecasts to follow suit,” the bureau said in a statement.

“[People] just want to know how likely it is to rain, and how heavy the rain will be if it does.

“So we’re changing the way we describe the likelihood of rain, to ensure that our forecast descriptions are every bit as clear and precise as our graphical services.”

If the new language did not clear things up enough, the bureau has even released a table clarifying just how likely it is to rain.

Chance of rain Terminology used
0%, 10% No mention of rainfall in forecast
20%, 30% Slight chance
40%, 50%, 60% Medium chance of rain
70%, 80% High chance of rain
90%, 100% Very high chance of rain
The bureau said its new forecast terminology would not just clear up the likelihood of rain.

It said audiences listening to forecasts should also get a better description of when it would rain, how heavy it would be, and any other weather phenomena.

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