Major commercial broadcasters use cm only for snowfall

A few days ago, weather forecasters were warning the public about a period of freezing weather and snow. Major British commercial broadcasters’ websites have expressed the levels of snowfall exclusively in centimetres. There has been no use of inches for snowfall in their online weather reports.

On the ITV News website, under the heading “Amber warning for heavy snow and ‘blizzard conditions'” 1, the sections on snow say:

  • The Met Office said “strong winds bringing blizzard conditions” are on the way for the region from 3pm on Thursday until noon on Friday, with 30-40 cm of snow.
  • Residual impacts from snowfall are expected to continue throughout Friday morning, with 10-20 cm of snow predicted to fall quite widely. Some places could see as much as 30-40 cm.
  • Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey said average snow levels of 2-5 cm are expected across much of the UK tomorrow, including in major northern cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Sky News reports 2 that “Latest weather updates as alerts are issued by the Met Office, health authorities and the National Highways Agency as up to 40 cm of snow is forecast for some areas.”. A similar Sky News report 3 also uses centimetres exclusively.

Channel 4 News says that “Extreme weather warnings have been issued for large parts of the UK – with blizzards, high winds and up to 40 cm of snow expected in the worst hit places.”. 4

GB News website’s Weather section tells us the following about the level of snow in its report 5:

  • Areas in the South West and South East will see the most significant snowfall with 1-2 cm for many and up to 5 cm on higher ground.
  • In the South West, 2-5 cm of snow could land with the chance of 8-10 cm on modest hills, including North Wessex Downs, Surrey Hills and North Downs.
  • A National Highways spokesperson said: “Overall 2-5 cm is expected to accumulate quite widely with isolated spots on the highest routes seeing 5-10 cm, for instance on the M5 J1-J3, M1 J6a and M40 High Wycombe.”

Commercial broadcasters have not considered it necessary to provide imperial conversions for centimetres. Unlike commercial broadcasters, the BBC has felt it needed to provide imperial conversions for centimetres. 6 7 Why has the BBC felt it needed to convert centimetres to inches in its weather reports? Why has the BBC not followed commercial broadcasters in using centimetres only?


  1. (ITV News, “Amber warning for heavy snow and ‘blizzard conditions’”, Thursday 9 March 2023)
  2. (Sky News, “UK weather: Blizzards & 60mph winds to bring ‘treacherous conditions'”, Thursday 9 March 2023)
  3. (Sky News, “UK weather – latest: Blizzards and 60mph winds to bring ‘treacherous conditions’ – with almost all of UK to be hit by snow or rain”)
  4. (Channel 4 News, “Extreme weather warnings issued across UK with blizzards and high winds expected”, Thursday 9 March 2023)
  5. (GB News, “UK snow alert: Motorway warning as ‘severe weather alert’ issued for ‘prolonged and heavy’ downpour”, Wednesday 8 March 2023)
  6. (BBC News, “Only drive if necessary, motorists told as heavy snow falls”, Thursday 9 March 2023)
  7. (BBC News, “Snow and travel delays expected as Arctic blast hits UK”, Thursday 9 March 2023)

4 thoughts on “Major commercial broadcasters use cm only for snowfall”

  1. Sadly, the recent events at the BBC have demonstrated that they must be in the pocket of the current Conservative government, which seems obsessed with flag waving and a pointless hearkening back to the old empire.
    Let’s hope folks realize this is a long con on their part and bring in a new set of players to run the government. That team might realize harmonizing with big trading partners is the sensible route to go on may different levels, including fully adopting the global standard system of measurement.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, and it gets worse at the BBC. The link provided in the post above has a summary sidebar on the left that actually includes a conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit for the temperature lows in Scotland. Really??? Since when has the BBC done this even for cold temperatures?

    Referenced link:


  3. By the looks of things, the BBC’s general position seems to be generally include both but the order depends on the situation in question. With USA stories being given predominately in antiquated units followed by metric e.g. 10 ft (3m), while stories in most of the world are predominately metric e.g 250 km (156 miles), while the UK being a mess means that it is up to them to determine the context to which is deem to be the more familiar first. As temperature is almost universally given in Celsius means that Celsius is given precedent while the consequence of the road signs still being in miles means that miles is given precedent over km.

    Of course the problem with doing that it creates confusing inconsistency where people where people ultimately unable to get use to using modern units if things are referenced to them in regards to antiquated units. Other countries broadcasters realised this so decided to switch over to fully metric when it became the official system of measurement. Rather than trying to appease everyone and perpetrating it through whatever is the deemed ‘common usage’ at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was disappointed to hear David Attenborough say Centigrade in the first episode of his new ‘flagship’ series, Wild Isles on BBC 1.
    I don’t blame him as it is an easy error to make having to switch from Fahrenheit to Centigrade to Celsius in the second half of his life. However, with their vast budgets, I do blame the editors and directors as they should know better and check the BBC Style Guide if they are unsure.
    Which brings me on to Countryfile………..Have you noticed that some presenters use hectares and some use acres. There’s no consistency and clearly, again, the editors are not doing their jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

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