Despite perfect driving conditions, there was traffic chaos yesterday when motorists abandoned their cars on motorways following the umpteenth severe weather forecast this week.
Police struggled to keep traffic moving as one by one, drivers pulled onto the hard shoulder and started making their way on foot along the motorways towards the dubious sanctuary of service stations carrying spades and thermos flasks, anxiously looking at the sky.
Eventually most of the motorway network of the South of England was closed.
“The problem started just after the 12:55 weather forecast on Radio 4,” said PC Anita Flegg, who was on duty on the M1 north of Dunstable. “At first there just were one or two reports of straying pedestrians but soon we were quite literally snowed under with calls.”
Psychologists have identified the incident as a classic example of Foreboding Forecast Syndrome.
“FFS occurs when the victim is constantly warned of imminent dire events which never actually happen,” said leading headcase boffin, Dr Freya Anderson. “Eventually, the tension becomes too much for the sufferer who believes that the forecast is reality; when the reality is that the amber/yellow/purple weather warning only applies to somewhere up north that no one cares about.”
An insider at the Met Office was unrepentant for the constant barrage of apocalyptic weather warnings, saying that the BBC expected them to jazz things up to boost ratings. However an official spokeswoman told the media “We acknowledge there has been a problem, but we have a plan,” she announced. “From tomorrow, we will broadcast a warning that a severe weather warning is imminent ten minutes before the actual severe weather warning is broadcast.”