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  • Nick MacIneskar

Met Office dispenses medical advice

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

'There may be some weather coming...'

Previously required just to tell us if it is going to rain, the Met Office now provides up-to-the-minute medical advice too...

Apparently, owning a £1.2 billion supercomputer isn't enough to be able to accurately predict the weather. So in the absence of predicting just when you are likely to get soaked, the organisation has turned to giving out advice on a range of other issues.

The UK Met Office, yes the one who advertises not just a weather service but climate change too, has been playing around with its' website to provide 'changes' it thinks we would like to see. This invariably involves removing useful information like when we are likely to have rain/snow/hail etc and replacing it with a plethora of rather less useful information like UV index and pollen count. It also today provided the world with perhaps the most uncertain prediction of the weather.

'Partly cloudy with a chance of embolism'

The weather warning (whatever did we do without them?) issued a short while ago states that 'Some places are likely to see severe thunderstorms early next week, but we actually don't know how severe or exactly where.'

Actually, I added that last bit, but I feel I have captured the essence of what they were trying to tell us. So, in the same spirit, the Met Office has played it safe and applied it to the whole of the United Kingdom, although not Ireland which is apparently immune and has its own private arrangements with the weather.

So what can we expect? If, like me, you have been around for a couple of years, it is very likely you know what a thunderstorm is : roiling clouds, wind, rain and (oh yeah) thunder and lightning, possibly with more rain. But there must be a section of society who have never experienced this so the Met Office has helpfully detailed what a thunderstorm consists of. It also gives us hints and tips of how to drive in wet weather such as this little gem:

"If the road is flooded, turn around and find another route. The number one cause of death during flooding is driving through flood water, so the safest advice is turn around, don’t drown."

Met Office,2020

'Turn around - don't drown.'

This stunning piece of advice got me thinking about the role of the Met Office in getting us, the dumb public, to try new and innovative ways of not dying.

Their webpage used to consist of a guy with a cutout of the UK behind him and a couple of clouds or more occasional sun stuck to it. Today it is rather different. You can, for example, learn amazing factoids like this one about clyling in winter:

"Cycling accidents on ice can often result in physical injury..."

Really, I had no idea. However, I feel that the Met Office's attempts to provide little snippets of totally useless information are overshadowed by its' need to socially engineer its' readers.

Are you aged 55 or more? Oh dear...

I just wanted to read about the weather, but the Met Office had other ideas : my age group gets a webpage all to themselves. I learned, for example, that my muscle mass decreases by 1% every year from now on, that I am likely to have to take various forms of medication (it even tells me exactly how to take medicine) and it advises me to get a flu jab - all before having a nice hot drink, turn my heating up, invite a friend round and 'take up a new hobby'.

I am not exactly sure what was being suggested here, but it may not have been stamp-collecting.

In the same vein, it has oodles of advice in a new online game called 'Can you spot the signs of hypothermia?' Met Office 2020.

This series of advice blogs details the terrible things that getting cold can do to your body and how very flaky and susceptible to human body actually is. Did you know, for example, that hypothermia can set in at temperatures of 18 degrees celcius? Well, now you do. However in line with guidelines on managing 'older' people, the blogs also tell us that these symptoms may not, sadly just be due to being a bit chilly: they could just be a cover for a heart attack or stroke and advises us to call 999 immediately...


'Wanna see my collection?'

However, as a responsible dispenser of social engineering, the Met Office also recognises that it is not just the over 55's who need cosseting and its' website is full of eager advice on managing one's mental health. Amongst other things, I learned that I probably have Seasonal Affective Disorder and should immediately visit my GP.

In fact, from the description of the symptoms, it would appear to affect everyone in the United Kingdom (apart from Ireland, of course, which is unaffected by UK weather and is greyed out on a map of the UK only because the alternative is to make it disappear entirely and create an extended Irish Sea). And the problem with Seasonal Affective Disorder is the advice the met Office gives in avoiding it, which amongs other things is to 'make the most of natural Light' and 'avoid stress'.

What happens to your brain - Met Office advice.

Perfect, so all I need is the Met Office to accurately tell me when it is going to rain and then to please help my stress levels by removing all of its' extraneous advice.

© Nick MacIneskar 2020

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