The other day I received a very lovely letter from a New Yorker who wisely chooses to spend five months of the year in Rose Bay, N.S.
Barry Fenstermacher has been wondering about something for a while now: “Why do news and weather readers often omit an “s” in referring to multiple clouds in a forecast?” he wrote. “For example, they may say ‘Tomorrow will be a beautiful day with abundant sun and cloud.’”
I didn’t have to look very far for an example. Here is a forecast from
Environment and Climate Change Canada for New Glasgow, N.S., issued earlier this week: “a mix of sun and cloud with a 30-per-cent chance of flurries; high near –5.”
I’m glad Mr. Fenstermacher brought this up - we all go through life with a few pet peeves and that is one of mine. Still, I have no idea where it comes from but for what it’s worth, I don’t believe it is correct. Cloud is a countable noun. “Cloud” is singular and “clouds” is plural.
Interestingly enough, the lost “s” from the clouds seems to be blowing in the wind or winds? How often have you heard this one: “winds will be from the south with gusts to 70 km/h.” We don’t say “rains” or “snows” or “sleets” so why do some people add an “s” to wind?
I think that “winds” can be correct when you’re referring to multiple instances of wind occurring. You wouldn't refer to the wind on a breezy day as “winds,” but, if you were describing a windy location you could say “the winds at the park are cold,” because the wind occurs on separate occasions in different places.
As Mr. Fenstermacher so eloquently points out in his letter, “Granted, in a world of real problems this is microscopic… ”
I always welcome letters, photos, drawings and comments from all corners of Atlantic Canada. You can submit them to email@example.com
Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.