Weather Vocabulary

Whenever I teach my students weather vocabulary, I am always amazed at what an abundant list there is. I think it stems from the tendency of the English to converse extensively on all things relating to the weather (lovely, mild day today, isn't it?). In fact when my mother was in hospital in Scunthorpe, England, having given birth to me, the lady in the bed next to her started off every day with one of two phrases, 'Lovely day for washing, i'n it?', or alternatively, 'Terrible day for washing, i'n it?'.

Discussing the weather is a very useful ability for all ESL/EFL students, as it's safe ground, and an excellent conversation starter J

Weather Quotes

Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while - Kin Hubbard

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather - John Ruskin

There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing - Alfred Wainwright

There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbour's - Clyde Moore

There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends - Arnot Sheppard

Weather Vocabulary and Synonyms

Here's a list of commonly used weather vocabulary words with their synonyms (or words relating to the subject).

VERY hot sweltering, searing, boiling, blistering, scorching, oppressive, baking
very humid close, muggy, stifling, clammy, sticky, stuffy, sultry
cold frosty, bitter, raw, sub-zero, plummeting, crisp, chilly, freezing
snow slushy, powdery, blizzard, sleet
heavy rain torrential, downpour, tropical, deluge
light rain fine, drizzle, spitting, patchy
wind gusty, gale force, blustery, gentle, stiff, light, biting, howling

Commonly Used Phrases

snowed in to be unable to go anywhere because of heavy snow
snowed under to have a lot of work and other things to do
rained off (Brit)
rained out (US)
a sports event or other outside activity does not happen due to heavy rain
under the weather to be or feel ill

Natural Disasters

tornado a rotating column of air ranging in width from a few metres to more than a kilometre and spinning at destructively high speeds
drought a long period of dry weather that has an adverse effect on crops and animals
blizzard a violent snowstorm with high winds
flood water overflowing into land that is normally dry
landslide the fast downward movement of rock and earth on a slope as the ground collapses
hurricane a severe, rotating tropical storm with heavy rains and strong winds. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic Ocean, if they occur in the Pacific or Indian Ocean, they are called cyclones. They are clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, and anti-clockwise/counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.
tsunami a large, destructive sea wave produced by a submarine earthquake or volcanic eruption
tidal wave large waves caused by tides, wind and storms
earthquake a shaking of the crust of the earth caused by underground volcanic forces or by the breaking and moving of rock beneath the surface
heatwave a period of unusually hot weather
volcano an opening in the earth's crust through which molten lava, ash and gases are released
avalanche rapidly descending large mass of snow, ice, soil and rock

Weather Idioms

Match the following photos to the appropriate weather idiom:

once in a blue moon very rarely
a bolt from the blue a complete surprise
come rain or shine whatever happens
cloud nine to be extremely happy and excited
the lull before the storm a time which seems very quiet, but is about to be followed by a difficult or busy time
it never rains but it pours when something goes wrong, normally lots of things go wrong
a storm in a teacup a lot of unnecessary fuss about something that is unimportant
to make hay while the sun shines to do something while the situation and conditions are good
to know which way the wind blows to fully understand a situation
the tide has turned there has been a complete reversal in circumstances

Free Downloadable Weather Vocabulary List

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