50 years of Celsius weather forecasts – time to kill off Fahrenheit for good?

Fifty years ago, on 15th October 1962, British weather forecasts switched over from the Fahrenheit scale to Celsius. Fifty years on, some parts of the British media inexplicably cling on to Fahrenheit measures, and the UK Metric Association (UKMA) says it’s time to kill off Fahrenheit for good.

[Press release issued on 15 October 2012]

The UK Met Office has used the Celsius scale – formerly known as “centigrade” – in its work since 1st January 1961, to allow for greater international co-operation and because of the convenience of the scale. As the Met Office reported in 1962, this “led to the consideration of the desirability of introducing it in weather reports and forecasts for the general public.”

With the agreement of industry and the government, the Celsius scale was given after Fahrenheit from January 1962 as an interim measure, and then from the 15th October, Celsius became the primary unit given, with Fahrenheit retained as a secondary unit to aid the transition “for a period of several years.”

The Met Office is to be commended for accomplishing the change to the metric system of measurement so rapidly, in sharp contrast to some other parts of the government, such as the Department for Transport, which is still, fifty years later, dithering even about adding metres to safety-critical warning signs.

However, despite this early and rapid switch to Celsius-first forecasting, at the time of switchover, there was no timetable for the withdrawal of the Fahrenheit secondary measure. Says UKMA Chairman Robin Paice, “The officials at the Met Office in 1962 would almost certainly be incredulous at the prospect that, fifty years later, some media outlets would still be using Fahrenheit, and in some quarters, even as the primary scale. Two generations have now passed since Celsius was introduced, and yet we still see occasional headlines, normally in hot weather, about the temperature given in Fahrenheit.”

UKMA believes that with fifty years of Celsius weather forecasting now behind us, it is time for the British media to ditch Fahrenheit for good. “Media outlets should reflect on how they reported decimalisation; “new pence” are almost a decade younger than the Celsius temperature scale, and yet no newspapers feel the need to convert pence to shillings in their reports, and rightly so; why cling on to an even more obsolete temperature scale?”

The Met Office declined an invitation to comment.

This entry was posted in General, History, Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

145 Responses to 50 years of Celsius weather forecasts – time to kill off Fahrenheit for good?

  1. Mary says:

    Recently Sean Woodward, at Hampshire County Council, told listeners to the BBC Radio 4's 'The World at One' , road temperatures were 120 degrees Fahrenheit
    [Heard on Fri 19 July]

    In the following newspaper article he does not mention Fahrenheit

  2. BrianAC says:

    Another example of backwards thinking by our elected leaders. His car obviously has no outside temperature sensor then! Or do these people convert it to Fahrenheit so 'everyone' can understand it?
    Off topic but relevent to luddite thinking, roads surfaced with stone chippings on bitumen, shades of the 1960's?
    Its back to cleaning the car with parrafin and replacing the windscreen every few years then. Do they ever wonder why we stop doing things the old way?

  3. BrianAC says:

    Never mind the weather, degrees Fahrenheit has come to Formula One motor racing on BBC TV!
    Suzie Perry today gave the track temperature as 50 deg C and thats 121 Fahrenheit ...
    I guess she must have been listening to BBC R4 on 19th July and thought 'that sounds like good fun, I will try that myself next week.
    Suzie Perry has gone from a breath of fresh air this year to nothing. Hero to zero in one move.
    I did note later that David Coulthard slipped up giving out a distance in inches then very quickly corrected himself to cm, at least the effort is being made.

  4. Ray says:


    We are assuming that the schools are teaching metric. But in reality what they are teaching is how to instantly convert. When you see the train speedometer and it distinctly says 200 km/h, that is when your education kicks in. Instead of seeing 200 km/h, you see something like 125 mph. Your training tells you instantly convert to imperial and shout out the imperial so the whole world can hear you.

    When you see a pavement temperature on a thermometer of 50°C, your school training tells you to blurt out the Fahrenheit. Of course you can be off a degree of two, but with Fahrenheit or any other imperial unit who cares is accuracy suffers as long as the unit name is shouted out for all to hear.

    While the rest of the world is growing and technically advancing using metric, the people of the UK and the US will have their roles to play as official back converters. See it in metric, say it in metric, then say it in USC or imperial. Doesn't that make everyone happy now?

  5. Rand says:

    If only my backwards country, the USA, would finally use metric, which is its "official" system, after all.

  6. Alicia Adams says:

    US Citizen here. Please keep the old systems in play, it makes it way easier for me to understand you.

  7. John Steele says:

    Our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico already report weather in metric. In fact, the METARs the National Weather Service issues to pilots already use Celsius for temperatures. You probably need to get used to metric as 95% of the world uses it as their primary measurement system including, as I already said, our immediate neighbors.

    The US National Weather Service has a very good metric converter on their "point forecast" pages so you can switch back and forth and develop a feel for weather in metric.

  8. BrianAC says:

    Interestingly confusing weather reports from USA / Canada east coast this weekend with the low temperatures. At everyday temperatures the C and F are fairly obvious and I prefer they are taken for granted as degrees C, for industrial processes the temperatures (like 400 or 1000 degrees) are totally meaningless without qualification.
    However, on Friday the temperature (East coast US), was broadcast as "minus 20 degrees", no mention of C nor F, confusing as it was a UK report on USA (or Canada) so could justifiably be either. Saturday they went one better, it was "30 degrees below freezing", again that could be minus 20 (C) or around 2 (F). Sunday, bless them they got it right and gave it in degrees Celsius as "minus 40 degrees Celsius", just the temperature where the two cross over and it makes no difference at all.
    Do they have to work at this stupidity, or does it come naturally with a degree?
    Now, @ Alicia Adams, in USA you can use whatever you like, but elsewhere the Fahrenheit scale is all but dead, even in UK. This is why it sounds so stupid when (UK) weather reporters use it, it is meaningless (except in USA context), and they should be educated to a higher standard. Otherwise the luddites are few and far between, just natural slips into the past. What really gets me going is the younger reporters (under 50 or so), who seem to think they are being clever by translating into "old money" or "English units" so us old folk can "understand" what they are saying, very patronising in my view. The understanding bit is quite easy, but with lack of use, the familiarity is the hard bit, that is what is being undermined.

  9. M. Kienzle says:

    Our neighbors north and south use a much easier system that even the British accepted as the official one way back in 1962! Why in the world are we so backward???
    I grew up with Celsius in Germany and have lived here, in Australia, Russia, Thailand, Denmark and Israel before retiring back to the USA. Can you imagine what following recipes from a Fahrenheit country in a Celsius country oven is like? Add the problem of translating ounces into grams or grams back into ounces, depending where we were, made for many disappointing cake outcomes. Seems to me the time has come to join the modern interconnected world!!

  10. Ezra Steinberg says:

    I opened the news story on the extreme cold in the eastern USA on the BBC news web site hoping to see instance after instance of temperatures given only in degrees Celsius.

    Much to my chagrin each and every mention of a temperature (and there were quite a few) was followed by the equivalent temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.

    This is nothing short of scandalous. How does one explain the BBC's stubborn persistence in perpetuating this obsolete unit of measure?

  11. Grant Newsham says:

    What is said is the people who want to enforce everyday use on others.

    I know of no person in the UK who lists their height in feet and inches or weights in stones and pounds.

    I still use Fahrenheit colloquially - as do many people I know. This is no crime - please get off your high horses. As a physicist I could equally well tell you to stop using stupid Celsius and use the absolute Kelvin scale which makes more sense.

  12. Grant Newsham says:


    I meant no one states their heights and weights in metric.

  13. John Steele says:

    @Grant Newsham

    An interesting point on weight and height. However, it points out the relative uselessness of both Customary and Imperial in an international context. Height would work out, but VERY few Americans would understand your weight in stones. I would guess more Americans would understand your weight in kilograms, although the score on neither unit would be good. We have less fear of large numbers and express our weights (and even our car's weight) in pounds. We would eventually uses tons (short tons) for commercial vehicles). The lack of a stone is why our hundredweight is a logical 100 lb.

    As all other major British Commonwealth nations have gone metric, for all practical purposes, Imperial has only lingering usage only in the UK, and Customary has usage only in the US. The two have a number of differences so we mostly confuse each other with the similarities.

    (I've been on the board long enough to know a stone is 14 lb, but not many Americans would.)

  14. michduncg says:

    Hi Grant

    Thanks for your comments, I am not sure anyone on here is on their high horse as such (particularly not one measured in hands!) but this is a pro-metrication website so we are quite positive in our promotion of the National Measurement System, which is metric.

    I must admit, deg F just stumps me these days, I have American friends who have been telling me of their bad weather with the temperature in the 20s and its just so wrong! I do measure my height in cm and kg. Makes everything so much easier. Especially when I talk to my doctor, whose database records everything in metric. OK, I am 46 so my weight varies more than my height these days. We are holding a battle of the bellies at work, and I have convinced several of the guys there how much easier kg are for working out weight loss.

    Personally, I am not promoting the metric system because I think it is the better system. I promote it because it is the international system. It is the system used in most businesses. But most of all I can understand it. I challenge people on a daily basis to convert their height into inches only, or their weight into pounds only, and most people can't do it. What is the point of using measurements if you don't understand them!

  15. Martin Vlietstra says:

    In response to Grant Newsham, an increasing number of people in the UK use kilograms rather than stones and pounds to weigh themselves.

    Weights in the gym are usually calibrated in kilograms as are soldier's backpacks. Gym-users and soldiers need to know the weight that they are carrying as a fraction of their own body-weight, so those groups of people tend top use kilograms. Likewise, if you go to a doctor's surgery, you will be weighed on a kilogram-only set of scales. You might find a set of dual-scale weights in the waiting room - those are the scales that were thrown out when it became mandatory for all NHS doctors to have kilogram-only scales.

    The real problem of course is that journalists insist on converting back to stones and pounds for the benefit of their readers.

  16. William Franklin says:

    Metric might be easier to compute, but there’s no evidence that I’ve ever seen that shows that a country’s use of Fahrenheit hurts it in any way. It’s a harmless tradition, and so long as people understand Celsius, I see nothing wrong with using imperial measures.

    I would like to point out that I too learned the metric system in UK schools and lived for an extended period of time in both Sweden and Germany, and through those experiences, I can say that I understand the metric system as well as anyone. In fact, I’m temporarily residing in the United States, a country that functions quite well without the metric system.

    In fact, while German friends of mine find imperial measures archaic, they consider their holidays in the UK richer and therefore more rewarding for all its cultural idiosyncrasies such as ordering beer in pints, following imperial road signs, driving on the left side of the road, and separate hot and cold water taps in the bathrooms of the B & Bs they frequent. Imperial makes us unique, not stupid.

    Teach everyone to use Celsius, but don’t disparage them for using the traditional measures of the land.

  17. BrianAC says:

    @William Franklin,

    The point is, what is the point?
    Why use two systems instead of the one that everyone else uses? (Except USA, where it seems you are quite at home).
    True the USA may function 'quite well' (but could do a lot better) without the metric system, however, the problem we have in UK is the metric system totally mixed up with a stupid mix of out dated measurements.
    Now, just what part of me does it enrich to hear the weather given in Celsius 98% of the time, with the odd F word thrown in every now and again? Sorry I just can't be bothered to C&P yet again that F word that I never could spell.
    Please let it be that we all start talking the same measurement language, one language for all people all the time. That being SI.

  18. The Glob says:

    Agree with Brian, it doesn't enrich anything to have two systems, no point at all. We should remove Fahrenheit and all remaining imperial units asap.

    Indeed, if all we had to offer "culturally" was to use a "system" (which it isn't) that isn't even British and that nobody else really understands, that is like saying that we have nothing to offer so must prove that we are British by keeping outdated units among other things.

    This is of course false. Culture has nothing to do with how you measure (or indeed what side of the road you drive but that has nothing to do with metrication), - those are not culture. Measurement is just a tool to get things done properly.

    No, culture is much deeper that - this concerns things like: Our ways of life which means our food - traditional and modern cuisines, our museums, our art, our films, our music, our sport, our ceremonies, our social etiquette and habit: those are things that are part of our culture and thus way of life and which enrich them.

    I have met people from around the world - including from Germany and France. We rarely ever even discuss measurement units, we have more interesting things to talk about than imperial units or why Britain should finish going metric.

    The very few times we do discuss it, all complain that they don't understand imperial and almost nobody has claimed that Imperial units are part of the British experience, and all agree that it is stupid to keep Imperial whilst largely only teaching metric in school.

    Actually a few months ago, in the chilly month of December here in Lyon, I was walking to work with a colleague, naturally we were speaking in French (my third language). As we entered our building I told her what I thought the temperature was in Celsius, she gave what she thought the measure was, also in Celsius, except that she then asked me if it's Fahrenheit I used. I simply replied "Don't understand Fahrenheit, don't understand miles, feet, or any imperial units. I only use metric.".

    She was surprised, I mentioned that only Americans use Fahrenheit and then when I explained the situation in Britain she thought the "British Measurement Mess" was stupid too.

    The measurement mess in Britain, actually affects others' perception of us, even when we are abroad. I'm surprised though that my colleague thought we used Fahrenheit, the only time this has ever happened. Usually it's only kilometres and kilometres-per-hour that several abroad assumed we don't use (understandably due to our out-of-date road signs).

  19. Zach Fahrenfight says:

    I really don't know what you people are talking about. Celsius for weather is utterly stupid. Only the UK and the US seem to get that (though apparently nobody on this website does).

    Celsius is based on the range between freezing and boiling of water. That makes sense in a laboratory. It is however an utterly ill fit for normal human beings going about normal human lives.

    Fahrenheit is humanistic. It is based on the range typically encountered by human beings on planet earth--the range that our bodies can generally tolerate and that we naturally understand. We easily grasp that 100 degrees Fahrenheit is a really hot day right up at the maximum of what we are ever likely to encounter, and that zero is just as uncomfortable in the other direction.

    Why anyone would ever recommend or accept Celsius as an appropriate way to talk about the weather is beyond me. You people claiming that Fahrenheit users are "backwards" are the real suckers. You're just accepting what some group of academics in white lab coats decided for you, without knowing why or really thinking it through.

    Fahrenheit forever!

  20. WJG says:

    @Zach Fahrenfight.

    You write.
    "Fahrenheit is humanistic. It is based on the range typically encountered by human beings on planet earth–the range that our bodies can generally tolerate and that we naturally understand. We easily grasp that 100 degrees Fahrenheit is a really hot day right up at the maximum of what we are ever likely to encounter, and that zero is just as uncomfortable in the other direction."

    Yes. In temperate latitudes, temperatures from 38 degrees Celsius (approx 100 degrees Fahrenheit) to 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) can be considered tolerable and comfortable.

    However using your words..and replacing Fahrenheit with Celsius.
    Celsius is humanistic. It is based on the range typically encountered by human beings on planet earth–the range that our bodies can generally tolerate and that we naturally understand.

    "Encountered by humans on planet earth"..

    It's not uncommon for the air temperature, at McMurdo Station, the largest base in the Antarctica, to record -50 degrees Celsius.
    At the other extreme it's not uncommon for the air temperature in central Australia to be recorded at 50 degrees Celsius.

    This 50 degree Celsius swing either side of 0 degree Celsius (-50C to 50C) totalling 100 degrees Celsius are the temperatures encountered by humans on the whole of planet earth. Not just temperatures in cool or temperate latitudes of our planet.

  21. John Frewen-Lord says:

    @Zach Fahrenfight says:

    "I really don’t know what you people are talking about."

    This is a wind-up, isn't it? I think you need to get out more.

  22. Zach Fahrenfight says:


    I appreciate your taking the time to respond, but use of McMurdo and central Australia as examples only reinforce my point, in that hardly any humans live there!

    So the Eskimos have 50 words for snow---so what? For them that makes sense. Now let's force the entire world to adopt a unified snow language. No thanks.

    By all means, our researcher friends at McMurdo Station are welcome to use Celsius. I am not calling for its abolishment, as Celsius makes plenty of sense in science. That doesn't mean that their needs should dictate the language of the rest of the world for every use case every day.

    Fahrenheit puts weather for most of us on a sensible scale of 0 to 100. Replacing that in with -18 to 38C for that use case is pinko socialist ass-backward foolish.

  23. JohnP says:

    Born and raised in the USA, but travel overseas 5+ time yearly.
    I vaguely remember President Carter's attempt to switch everything over to metric.
    As an aerospace engineer, we learned both, plus all the conversions. Later, working at NASA-JSC on the shuttle software, we'd see both units as inputs from hardware. Once, to my knowledge, the conversion wasn't handled properly on a spacecraft and the sub-mission failed. It wasn't critical, but it was embarrassing for the programmer (not me). It was also embarrassing for the review teams who missed it.

    I think in imperial units. Wish it wasn't so, but it is a fact. I really wish the USA would switch 100% to metric units for everything. The math would be easier, communications world-wide will be easier, fewer mistakes would happen and my grandkids wouldn't need 2 sets of tools like I have!

    It is a real cost issue.

    I liked reading how the UK attempted to switch over during a few years. Smart. We should do it and make all agencies in the US government only work with metric system for everything. All proposals, all units going forward. It would be helpful if state governments did the same, but that will be like herding cats.

    A "stone"? I knew it was a unit of mass, but did not know it as 14 lbs. It will be forgotten in a few hours. We just don't use it any more than we use fortnight or "scores" in common speech.

    Yes, please, please, kill off fahrenheit. People are smart and can adjust. We aren't dumb.

  24. William Franklin says:

    Now live in Canada. Imperial measures alive and well here.

  25. Ezra Steinberg says:

    @ William Franklin

    You write: "Imperial measures alive and well here" (i.e. Canada).

    Including degrees Fahrenheit or wind speed in miles per hour on Canadian media?

  26. Han Maenen says:

    @ Zach Fahrenfight
    You almost claim that people who use the Celsius scale for weather are insane. I do not use it because scientists told me to use it, I use it because I think it is convenient. The scale of 0 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit is meaningless to me and to everybody else who uses the Celsius scale. Even in the temperate zones both points are often exceeded. Yesterday (27 August) temperatures in Spain rose above 40 degrees Celsius. It happens every summer in southern Europe and Turkey. In wintry Scandinavia adn Central Europe temperatures often drop below -20 degrees Celsius. And I think that in the cold states of the USA winter temperatures often drop below 0 degrees F and rise beyond 100 degrees F in the interior in summer.
    'That doesn’t mean that their needs should dictate the language of the rest of the world for every use case every day.' (???) With the exception of the USA the rest of the world uses Celsius and has no plans whatsoever to switch to Fahrenheit.
    And by the way I have a treasure trove of 18th and 19th century Dutch weather data, with temperatures in Fahrenheit. In this very special case I use Fahrenheit, so I do not need to convert all the time. I only convert for other people. Yet, using Fahrenheit in this case does not make me wish to use it for todays purposes.
    I do honour Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit for his scientific achievements.

  27. philh says:

    If ever there was a strong case for a single standard it is surely temperature. Converting between Fahrenheit and Celsius is horrendous and most ordinary people can't do it, even with a calculator.

    We could argue all day with the likes of 'Zach' about the relative merits of each scale but in the end, surely, the most important issues is to settle on something that everybody can understand and use.

    It is quite easy to explain that Celsius is linked to the freezing and boiling points of water (albeit at standard temperature and pressure) over the range 0 to 100. Neither scale is linked to human body temperature so that doesn't really come into it.

    Pure speculation but I would be willing to bet that Fahrenheit himself would not insist that his scale be used today given the much better alternative.

  28. Michael Glass says:

    Fahrenheit has just about died out in Australia (and also New Zealand). It's Celsius all the way here. In Australia the temperatures were changed on 1 September 1972, so the only ones who would be at all familiar with Fahrenheit temperatures would be those over the age of 50 or people who have come from the USA or the UK.

  29. Ezra Steinberg says:

    This makes me wonder how familiar UK residents under 30 (or 40?) are familiar with and truly comfortable with degrees Fahrenheit even though it keeps popping up in the press.

    I ask because all of the Canadians I've ever talked to (and they switched in the 70's to Celsius) who have not spent time in the USA claim they have no real clue what a temperature in degrees Fahrenheit really means. (I even had one Canadian fellow I work with tell me ... and he is in his thirties ... that even though he has worked in the USA for the last 6 years, he still has never developed a feel for degrees Fahrenheit!)

  30. Martin Vlietstra says:

    Generally people in the UK use Celsius except when it gets above 30°C when the newspapers start using Fahrenheit to increase the drama. In addition, many Eurosceptics use Fahrenheit to emphasise their opposition to the EU.

  31. Han Maenen says:

    When I was in Ireland last July and the weather was hot again, it was Celsius all the way, even in Irish subsidiaries of British newpapers, which are becoming more and more Irish. Not the Daily Express, however, which one day proclaimed on the front page that the temperature was going to reach or maybe even exceed 100 degrees F in Southern Britian. This paper calls itself the best or the greatest paper in the world. It does not give Irish news either. The Irish Daily Mail has become very native. I read an article in this newspaper about the hot summer 1976 and it just mentioned that in that year Fahrenheit and the mile were still used in Ireland. The high twenties of today were the low eighties of 1976.

  32. RobertC says:

    The reason why I find Fahrenheit superior to Celsius is simply because the Fahrenheit scale is a much more precise scale. On the Celsius scale, 100 degrees separate the freezing (0°) and boiling points (100°) of water. On the Fahrenheit scale, 180 degrees separate the freezing (32°) and boiling points (212°) of water. Thus, the gap from one degree to the next is much narrower on the Fahrenheit scale than on the Celsius scale, thus making the Fahrenheit scale a much more precise scale.

  33. BrianAC says:

    @ RobertC ...

    Well, well, what an interesting outlook. Your opinion of 'precision' in temperature measurements is open to question. I think for most applications the decimal point will be needed in any scale. OK, as a rough guess at the outside air temperature a few degrees will do, so I don't see the finer scale being any advantage.
    I do wonder with whom you 'use Fahrenheit' in your daily life. Yes, it is still out there and in the media, but come on, it is so rarely used it can hardly be the scale of choice. Does your car have a Fahrenheit temperature indicator along with its mpg indicator? OK, you may have a 40 year old heating thermostat but I doubt any is within more than a few degrees of true reading, so 'precision', if that is your idea of it, is not a recomendation.

  34. Han Maenen says:

    Almost all Fahrenheit thermometers I have seen show double degrees.

  35. John Frewen-Lord says:


    Any opponent of metrication can make the same sort of arguments for any units of measure. If the imperial unit is smaller than the equivalent metric one, then it has 'more precision'. If the imperial unit is larger than the metric one, then it is 'more convenient' or 'results in more manageable numbers'.

    None of this makes the case for delaying the completion of metric conversion in the UK.

  36. Chris says:


    The "more precise" argument is probably the most ridiculous one of all. If you really believed that, then you'd be massively in favour of cm (or even mm) over inches. mm are WAY more precise than inches.
    And much more "convenient" too than requiring the constant use of fractions. One eighth of an inch!?!?!?! One sixteenth? Ouch...

    But as @John Frewen-Lord reasoned, this "precision" is not relevant in day to day life.
    We don't even particularly trust our forecasters 100% - but use them only as a rough guide. So the mind boggles to think when that extra fraction of a degree of precision in tomorrow's weather forecast is going to be important in my plans. If the forecaster tells me tomorrow will be 25 C, I've not once ever been concerned over whether he rounded that up or down - because who would care?

    I completely understand why people don't want to change from what they know and understand. I certainly wouldn't want to change either. And I don't particularly care what other countries do - they can please themselves.
    But "familiarity" is at least a real, genuine argument. "precision" as an argument here is a little silly.

  37. Brian Wylie says:

    The centigrade scale is rubbish! There aren't enough degrees in it!
    And I want to hear how fast cars are in MILES PER HOUR; how many MILES PER GALLON cars and motorbikes do; how many INCHES my inside leg is, etc, etc.
    To HELL with metrication fascists!
    - Brian, born 1964.

  38. Daniel says:


    No one is stopping you from knowing those figures. All you need do is self convert the real metric units to any obsolete units you please.

    If you notice, the Fahrenheit scales only resolve to every 2 degrees, which is less accurate than the one degree increments of the Celsius scale.



    Plus the human body can only detect a temperature difference of one degree Celsius.

    I say to HELL with stubborn old Luddites who are the real fascists.

  39. BrianAC says:

    @ Brian Wylie 2017-03-30 at 03:02

    Well, USA is the country for you to be in if you do not want degrees centigrade.
    You will find though that your cars and bikes do 19% less miles to the gallon, but the fuel will be cheaper.
    I should be taking offence at the 'metrication fascist' remark, but given the general level of the post it is not surprising.
    I do not know the level of precision you need for your temperature measurements, but there are decimal points, as many places as you deem necessary for the precision you require. If your prefer the degrees can be halved and quartered just the same as any other graduation.
    Just as a matter of factual information, the human blood temperature is taken as 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, so maybe you could explain to us fascists as to why decimal degrees Fahrenheit are acceptable, but presumably, by the tone of your comment, decimal degrees Celsius is not.
    To quote the recent 'in' phrase "your cause is already lost, get over it and move on".

  40. Jake says:

    Brian Wylie:

    When you've calmed down, could you please explain what you mean by there aren't enough degrees in the Celsius scale. Surely, there are just as many as you need. If the temperature of an object (or the weather) falls below freezing the figure will be preceded by a minus symbol, if the temperature of something (or the weather) is extremely high, then there is no upper limit to the figure. Please explain how it is that there "aren't enough degrees" in the temperature scale.

  41. derekp says:

    Would that be the British wine gallon of 1706, equal to 231 cubic inches and now used only in the USA and Liberia, or the Imperial gallon of 1824 now used only in Myanmar? This was originally adopted in an attempt to emulate the metric system, with its simple relationship between volume and weight: 1 litre of water weighs about 1 kg, 1 Imperial gallon of water weighs about 10 (yes, ten) pounds.

  42. Robin Hume says:

    As long as everyone knows what one is referring to does it really matter? As the USA still uses Fahrenheit it doesn't exactly seem to be going anywhere does it? After all, no one has ever gone into a pub and asked for 568 millilitres of beer.

  43. I was born in Britain in the 60s and then moved to the USA in the 70s. I never learned the metric system therefore, except in athletics as a competitive runner where the distances were metric at the higher level of competition once in high school. Local meets in California still used yards and miles but state competitions and championships would be metres and kilometres. So if your event was usually the mile, you'd do the 1500 meters if competing at the national level. This is undoubtedly due to the Olympics and other international competitions and the need for qualifying events to get there. I'm comfortable with kilometres now, however, I still have to convert them into miles in my mind, for example if a distance is noted in a news story, if I want to get a feel for how far that distance actually is. I have an innate "sense" of what a mile is, whereas I've never internalized kilometers. I don't have a feel for them if you know what I mean.

    I recently spent another decade in Europe and found that I prefer metric measurements when it comes to cooking, especially baking. Volume based measurements, i.e. "teaspoons" and "cups" are just ridiculously imprecise, even if you have standard measuring tools, because it's not possible to account for settling, altitude and other factors that can make a volume of a particular substance appear to be either more or less than its actual weight. But using the imperial system to weigh dry goods in recipes, particularly small amounts of things, like spices, results in unwieldy fractions like 1/56 of an ounce, which is much more neatly expressed as 0.5 grams. Using a digital scale set to metric instead of faffing about with bundles of measuring spoons and cups has also really helped me in constructing my own repeatable recipes as its possible to increase proportions of an ingredient incrementally with great accuracy.

    I still think of my weight in pounds though and my height in feet and inches. I never did get the whole stones thing (my mother still thinks in stones) and although I can quickly convert into kilos, I don't think in it.

    However, the one thing I just cannot wrap my mind around at all is Celsius. I grew up associating high double digits to low triple digits with hot weather. 95 just sounds hot, whereas 35, the same heat in Celsius, just doesn't! I know what 101 degrees Fahrenheit feels like, and can clearly imagine 85 F, 65 F 0 F and any other temperature using that system. My internalization of the Fahrenheit system is so thorough that I just don't think I'll ever be able to think in Celsius or instinctively know what a particular temperature in C feels like. It is abstract to me.

    So, it's not that I'm a Luddite, or backwards looking or stubborn or anything, it's just that...I know what I know and so I'm going to want to use the system and terminology that I already know and that makes sense to me immediately without doing conversions in my head.

  44. Ezra Steinberg says:


    Understand your post completely. Ironically, I work with a Canadian here just outside Seattle who has been in the USA for several years and tells me he still does not grok Fahrenheit! 😉

  45. Martin Vlietstra says:

    Diana, in my view, then best way forward is to start with cold temperatures. Zero degrees is a convenient point to start – water freezes at zero so this is an indication of whether you can expect dew on the ground or frost, and if it is frost, how hard a frost.

    The next point to get used to is 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) or whatever point you personally find it gets too hot to walk anywhere. Once you have these two points in your mind, then rest will fall into place.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *