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How to talk about severe weather

As I stated in another post, the weather is the perfect small talk topic, but it's becoming more than just small talk, I'd say right now it's quite the hot topic (pun intended). Climate change, be it due to natural changes or human activity, is something that we are experiencing every day, and so the typical elevator small talk about the temperature now opens up a whole can of worms about how to save the planet. So, the point of this post is to give you some more advanced vocabulary to use the next time the subject comes up.


Bad weather/natural disasters

Unfortunately it seems that every time I open the news on my computer, there has been another natural (or man made) disaster. Usually we think about the summer as having good weather, hot if anything, but this year seems to be chock full of problems due to the heat. Here's a list of a few of the most common problems that we've been seeing over the past few summers:

  • fires - forest fires are ravaging many of the Earth's green areas, and are threatening wildlife, crops and homes.

  • droughts - long periods without rain are putting many countries in a state of emergency, particularly the agriculture sector.

  • landslides/avalanches - glaciers were once a cool, safe haven to visit during the hot summer months, but the heat is causing them to melt and break off of the mountain.

  • hailstorms - hail is the balls of ice that fall from the sky, often during a severe thunderstorm. Tennis ball size hail has become more and more frequent, ruining crops and damaging property.

  • thunderstorms and high winds - thunderstorms are a normal part of most summer climates, but lately the severity of them seems to have risen, putting both people and property in danger.

  • heat waves - when an area experiences a bout of very high temperatures, it can be dangerous for people to even be outside in the peak hours of the day.

  • hurricanes and tornadoes - these natural disasters are specific to certain areas of the world and are capable of destroying entire islands with their high winds, and in the last years, areas that were not previously affected by this type of weather are starting to experience their adverse effects.


Talking about the heat

Now, I sincerely hope that you have not and will not experience any of the above disasters, but seeing as they are all over the news, it's useful vocabulary to have under your belt. Something much more common is the summer heat, which is also becoming more intense year after year. Here are few expressions you can use to impress your colleagues next time you all start complaining that the office air conditioning isn't working.

  • It's absolutely boiling!

  • It's sizzling/sweltering outside.

  • It's like an oven/furnace out there (or in here)!

  • It's so muggy (humid) it's suffocating!

  • When you go outside it's like walking into a wall of hot air.

  • It's so hot you can fry an egg on the sidewalk!


I hope you don't have to use too many of these expressions too often, but at least here in Italy we're expecting the "hottest heat wave of 2022" in the coming weeks, so I'm sure some of you will unfortunately be affected by it, but at least now you can talk about the heat in a much more interesting way than simply saying, "it's hot".

Stay cool if you can!



  • hot topic: a popular or trending topic

  • opens up a whole can of worms: to create a complicated situation or to start a complicated discussion from which more problems and complexities will arrise

  • to come up: phrasal verb - to occur/to happen

  • chock full of: completely full, overflowing, too much

  • ravaging: synonym - to destroy

  • safe haven: a safe place to go to avoid a dangerous or uncomfortable situation

  • crops: fruits and vegetables grown for consumption

  • bout: a short period of something intense (temperatures/illnesses etc.)

  • peak hours: in this context - the hottest hours of the day. Can also be used to talk about the busiest hours of a place

  • adverse: harmful, unfavorable

  • under your belt: to have something (usually in your memory, like an experience)

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