Talk:Brown Willy effect

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Is this for real - didn't the Times just print an April fool too early? I can't find any other reference to it. --JBellis 14:33, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Whoever give it this name it must have a sense of humour, but the effect which produces convergence over Bodmin Moor is real enough. Try this, which pre-dates the Times article. I also found references on a couple of meteorology forums before I wrote the article, but these now seem to have been drowned out by comments that post-date it. --Portnadler 17:11, 9 April 2006 (UTC)


This whole page is absolute rubbish. There are no references that can backup this phrase. This is just relief rainfall in highland areas. The whole page needs to be deleted SuzanneKn (talk) 21:27, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

The Original Source[edit]

For the doubters, here is the text of the original article by Jeremy Plester, published in The Times on 30th March 2006

THE Brown Willy effect was is full swing on Monday evening. This effect, named after its starting point on Bodmin Moor, describes a very thin line of showers which develops over the moor and then streams northeastwards up to the Midlands. On Monday, with a strong southwesterly wind blowing, the effect appeared in all its glory. Rarely more than a few miles across, one continuous shower stretched from Brown Willy, across Dartmoor, the Somerset levels and up towards Burford in Gloucestershire � about 145 miles.

When winds roar in from the Atlantic and up on to the West Country moors, all the friction from the hills, trees, fields and hedges slows the wind down and makes the wind on the South Coast turn towards the North Coast and vice versa. These winds, now blowing towards each other, force shower clouds into the sky across central Cornwall. They then stream northeast. In addition, the high ground across the moors adds to the lift of the cloud and intensifies the rain. Such events can produce huge amounts of rain and ferocious thunderstorms for long periods of time if the wind stays in the same direction but as soon as the wind out in the Atlantic changes direction, the convergence is lost and the showers rapidly die out. A similar effect produced the devastating floods in Boscastle in 2004.

Portnadler (talk) 13:11, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

asking the Met Office about it[edit]

A freedom of information request has gone in to the Met Office:

Watch this space.

(I hope it stays up there. The admins on that site don't seem to like me so I hope they don't delete it, as the response should be informative.)

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Foggy Masawan (talkcontribs)

Requested move 9 October 2018[edit]

Brown Willy effectPeninsular convergenceExisting name is not verifiable.

In addition to informing the article creator (User:Portnadler), I have now mentioned this discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Meteorology#requested_move_at_Talk:Brown_Willy_effect. Please feel free to mention it anywhere else that might be helpful, but please also mention any such notifications here, as advised at Wikipedia:Canvassing#Appropriate_notification. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 05:29, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Also now mentioned at Talk:Meteorology, Talk:Convergence zone and Talk:Brown Willy. (The last two of these articles contain references to the effect by the name in question, and would need to be edited if it is decided not to recognise that name.) --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 05:38, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

It seems that the response to the above mentioned Freedom of Information request (from 2016) states that the Met Office's reports into the causes of the Boscastle floods do not reference the effect, and that the term does not appear in the Meteorological Glossary provided by the Met Office. The only reference linked from this article that I can inspect (the others being behind a paywall) mentions the convergence effect but does not contain any reference to the name "Brown Willy effect". There are comments above in the talk page to the effect that there might have been some reference to it in a newspaper, but nothing that can be found now, and if it was a recognised term in the scientific literature then web searches ought to find at least the relevant abstracts. I propose to move this article to Peninsular convergence (which does seem to be a valid term, see e.g. this video from the Met Office) and to edit out any references to the name "Brown Willy effect". I don't mind leaving a redirect at the existing title in case it is helpful to people (it is now a plausible misnomer given that this article has been around for many years, so it appears in Google searches), but to actually mention the term in the article seems to violate the verifiability policy. Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 06:02, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

Article creator informed. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 06:13, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for letting me know. I created the original article in good faith because it was described by Jeremy Plester in the London Times of 30th March 2006. I would have thought that this is a reliable source. The fact that the online copy of it is now behind a paywall is irrelevant. You could go to a good reference library and look it up the old-fashioned way Portnadler (talk) 09:51, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
@User:Portnadler Firstly, let me say that your good faith was never in doubt. And yes, I accept your point about a reference library, but I think that a single article in a non-specialist source (even a "quality paper" like the Times) isn't a good enough source if nothing is coming to light in the scientific literature, given that the Met Office seem to deny all knowledge of it. But I will check out User:Anthony Appleyard's search link to see if it throws up anything more. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 23:25, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
@User:Anthony Appleyard Okay, I've had a bit of a look at this now. I am certainly seeing plenty of mentions, but I am not seeing links to anything like academic papers or meteorological textbooks. I think that while the references are clearly not just verbatim copies of this article, we need to consider the fact that the article has been up here very visibly on Wikipedia for over a decade, and as such they may very well have been influenced by it (or possibly the original Times article) rather than being anything independent. If I have missed one or more expert sources amongst the Google hits, then sorry, but if so, please can you link to it/them explicitly rather than just to the Google search. Many thanks, --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 23:33, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
I've also thought a bit more about this. I agree that it would be a good idea to create an article called Peninsular convergence, and this should, quite correctly, reference the various learned papers that discuss the phenomenon. However, I think it would also be reasonable to retain a smaller version of the present article on the Brown Willy effect that says it is a specific instance of it that occurs in South-West England. The article by Jeremy Plester was published in The Times and this is verifiable. Either he coined the name or took it from some previous work that we can't now find online. Wikipedia doesn't always have to reference learned papers; there are plenty of cases where a serious scientific phenomenon has been given a catchy or even humorous name by a popular science writer. For instance, what we now call the Big Bang theory was first proposed in the 1920's, but the term "Big Bang" wasn't used until the 1950's in the popular magazine, The Listener. Portnadler (talk) 08:56, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
A fair point, but we would at least need to be sure that it actually has become a recognised term in popular culture. So far the only reliable source which has been confirmed to contain the term is the Times article itself. The danger is that we are making a "thing" essentially out of a term which for all we know was coined by a single journalist and hasn't really been noted anywhere else of significance. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 17:53, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. MMTP, I think you've missed your chance to have this removed - the time to have done so was when the article was created, with only one available RS. From what you say about Google hits the phrase seems to have become part of popular culture which makes it a perfectly acceptable topic for an article. It does seem possible that Wikipedia may have played a part in popularising the phrase, but I don't think we can now say that we shouldn't have an article because of that possibility.  —SMALLJIM  10:14, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
Response: I was not saying that a term is invalidated because it might have been popularised by Wikipedia. What I was saying is that I can't find the term in reliable sources other than the Times article. (I can't easily inspect the Times article, but am willing to accept based that the above copy is accurate.) This raises two issues:
  • I would expect the title of an article about what is a technical subject to be the term by which it is known by those in that field. An absence of academic sources (e.g. academic journal articles, text books) using that term is in my view good enough reason why it should not be the title of the article, especially when combined with the info from the Met Office which tends to negate its use in the field.
  • Beyond this, if the phenomenon is known by some other title in popular culture, then yes, this is a valid thing to mention in the article, but this still has to be attested in reliable sources. A few dozen people copying it to their websites (which is about the number of actually independent results in those Google search results) doesn't constitute evidence that it has "become part of popular culture". To be honest, I would expect to see it in something like a dictionary -- lexicographers these days are not so prudish as to omit "popular culture" terms -- but I am simply not seeing it, and I've just checked the OED and Chambers (and Websters for good measure). The Times article (based on the text posted above by Portnadler) is a good start, but it is only a single source. Let's at least have a second one which is confirmed to contain the term. Currently, there are two sources referenced other than the Times article: one is the Weather article which clearly does not contain the term anywhere; the other is a the Telegraph article which might or might not contain the term (it's behind a paywall). If someone (perhaps yourself, as I see that you added the Telegraph reference) can supply an exact quotation from it which mentions the term by that name, this would then suggest to me that there is then enough evidence of its use in popular culture to warrant giving it a mention. For reasons stated above, it would still not make a convincing case for using it as the title. --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 17:40, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Just noting (as the requestor) that I am about to take another enforced wikibreak. See you, --Money money tickle parsnip (talk) 20:46, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

I've added a reference to a tweet by a professional meteorologist in 2017. I know this post-dates the original article, but I think it does demonstrate that the term has gained currency, by whatever means. Portnadler (talk) 15:36, 12 October 2018 (UTC)