The N&O staff has done a good job of covering the oppressive heat this week. Public Editor Ted Vaden noted the colorful phrases our writers have used. I have noticed that, for the most part, we have correctly avoided characterizing temperatures as “hotter” or “warmer.” As the Associated Press Stylebook says, temperatures either rise higher or fall lower; they do not become “warmer” or “cooler.”
Broadcast weather reports often use “warm” or “cool” to describe temperatures. On the radio just now, I heard a meteorologist from the National Weather Service use “cooler” to describe today’s temperatures. As a reader pointed out to me, if you think of the thermometer with its mercury rising and falling (that is, going up or down), you can easily see why temperatures should be referred to as “high” or “low.”
“Warm” or “cool” can describe the weather itself, but not temperatures.
This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.