Weather Blog

Is a clear day sunny, fine, bright, or just good?

Is a clear day sunny, fine, bright, or just good?
Photo: Flickr user spaceodissey (CC License)

It's interesting to see how different cultures view the weather. Here in the U.S., our forecasts are pretty vanilla... it's either "sunny" or "partly sunny" or "mostly cloudy". But in other areas of the English-speaking world, other nations use some more colorful terms to describe the weather.

I stumbled upon this idea for a blog months ago when I spied a forecast for the UK while researching their big arctic event last winter that said the next day would be "mainly bright with sunny periods."

That sounded quite optimistic and cheery. Way more so than just "mostly sunny". So I set out to find how other nations tell the masses if the sun will -- or won't -- come out tomorrow.


Environment Canada sticks pretty closely to its American neighbors (neighbours?) to the south. Here are a few forecasts I found perusing their site:

"Cloudy with sunny periods"
"A mix of sun and cloud"
"Cloudy. Becoming cloudy periods late this evening."
"Sunny with cloudy periods. Becoming cloudy with sunny periods in the morning."
"Mainly sunny"
"Increasing cloud"
"Variable cloud"

Apparently there is only one cloud in Canada and it is shared across the nation -- or they treat cloud as a plural like "wind". Also, it looks like there is a specific designation between a sky that is "sunny with cloudy periods" and "cloudy with sunny periods". Sort of like the debate here over what is the difference between mostly cloudy and partly sunny, I suppose.

United Kingdom

Replace "periods" with "spells" and toss in commentary on the hue of the sky and you've got what the Brits send out. But I do love the "bright" they toss in there from time to time, giving a beacon of hope to the sunny weather fans. This is from the country that coined "Cheeri-O" and "bright" certainly qualifies as cheery.

Some of their forecasts from the "Met Office"

"Dry, with early mist clearing to sunny spells."
"Any mist or low cloud around in the morning will lift and it will then be a dry and bright day with some sunny spells developing in most areas."
"Elsewhere bright with occasional sunny spells possible"
"Otherwise dry, and some brighter spells in south"
"A dull and damp day with a strong and blustery southwesterly wind."
"Perhaps some bright spells, but generally a rather cloudy day with some outbreaks of light rain or drizzle. "


These are perhaps my favorite forecasts, only because they use the term "fine" and I can just hear that Australian accent "Fiiiiine" as I read it.

A few forecasts from the Australian Bureau or Meteorology:

"Fine. Light to moderate SW to NW winds."
"Mostly fine, possible light shower."
"Mainly fine. Partly cloudy."
"Cloud increasing later." (As in, eh, go ahead and party now :) But there is that one mysterious cloud again. Maybe the monarchs have ruled just one cloud per nation?)


While UK and Australia use "bright" and "fine", Norwegians apparently grade the day using something along the lines of an elementary school report card. Granted, some of this could be the translation from Norwegian to English, so I do give them some leeway there.

But here are some forecasts from their main "Meteorologisk Institutt" site:

"Dry and good."
"A few showers, otherwise good."
"Wintry showers, Thursday at times snow showers. Moderate to poor in precipitation."
"Snow showers with poor."
"Scattered rain showers, snow showers in the northern part. Good outside showers." (I assume that means the weather is good outside the rain and not that there are good outside showers, because I'd have to think that'd be quite cold :) )

Know of any other colorful goverment-issued forecast terms? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter (@ScottSKOMO) or on Facebook.