Degrees? They’re a breeze!

10 years ago

You don’t have your phone. So no apps. Calculator? Nope. Abacus? That would be funny. But here’s the deal. You are heading to New Brunswick, or elsewhere in Canada, and you hear this: “Clearing tomorrow, with a high of 20.” Thing is, it’s Summer, and they’re talking Celsius! (Remember back in school when they told us “you’d better learn the Metric System because it is definitely coming”?) Well, though it never did, sometimes you do need to know it! Because here in the U.S., we still use the Fahrenheit (F) scale.

Now, there is a conversion formula that goes like this: (C x 9/5) + 32 = F And the chances of you ever remembering that are ZERO. But here’s where it gets cool! There is a word version of that formula that is incredibly easy to remember.
Let’s take our example of a forecast high temperature of 20 degrees C. But we want it in F. Here’s all you need to do: Double it. Take away a tenth. Add 32.
Watch how easy this is! We start with 20. Double it … OK … that’s 40. Take away a tenth … OK … 1/10th of 40 is 4. “Taking it away” (subtracting it) from 40, leaves you 36. Add 32 … OK … 36 + 32 = 68.
Congratulations! You just went from 20 degrees Celsius to the correctly converted 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And you did it with the “ole noggin.”
By the way, many children, upon learning this from me, are suddenly confident in math! Picture it: “Hey Mom, Dad look what I can do!” Pretty cool stuff! Kids’ confidence levels can turn on a dime.
Lastly, there are a few other quick things you’ll want to know to interpret a Canadian forecast:
Snow forecasts are given in centimeters … about 2.5 to an inch.
Rain forecasts are given in millimeters … about 25 to an inch.
Wind forecasts are given in kilometers per hour.
To get to miles per hour, multiply by 0.62.
At least wind direction is the same on both sides of the border, thank goodness!
Ted Shapiro holds the Broadcast Seal of Approval from both the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. An Alexandria, Va. native, he has been Chief Meteorologist at WAGM-TV since 2006. Email him at