Why's It So Wet?

A look at what's going on and whether it'll ever stop raining this summer...

Posted: 6 July 2007
by Jon

What's going on with the weather then? Perhaps it's just rose-tinted specs, but we can't remember quite such a miserable June/July since records began when we were old enough to remember things...

In an effort to find out what's wrong and when we can expect some sort of improvement, we trawled round the various specialist weather sites for some expert input.

Blame The Azores...

Pic by John Arthur - OM album

The cheery guys over at Metcheck kick off with some gentle fun - 'Sunshine! (only joking)' is their current headline. And they are joking. According to yesterday's analysis, there's trouble brewing in the Azores thanks to 'a rogue area of low pressure on a frontal wave' which, if it develops, 'will bring further flooding and misery to parts of the UK next week.'

Not so good then, though it might be nice over the weekend before things get bad again... Just to rub salt in the wounds, the site's 'UK Weather Singularities' page says that the period from 10 July to 22 July is often traditionally warm and dry as the Azores high builds. Not this year it seems...

Verdict It's all down to things moving around in the Atlantic, damn those fish.

Mixed Up...

Pic Dave Mycroft - OM Album

Over at theweatheroutlook.com 'mixed' is the word du jour. It might be getting warmer over the next 14 days, it says, but it will also be unsettled. More reassuringly, the 45-day forecast says that from 1 July to 14 August temperatures are expected to be above the Central England Temperature average, with precipitation slightly above average.

The really good news is that between 12-14 August it should be 'rather warm and mainly dry wtih sunny spells'. Less encouragingly, the remainder of the forecast majors on warm but unsettled with showers. Oh dear.

Verdict Warm but unsettled.

Above Average Temperatures

Pic Rob Sutherland- OM Album

Over to the experts at the Met Office where the long-term Summer 2007 forecast is for temperatures for the remainder of the summer to be above 1971-2000 averages all over Europe. But before you get your hopes up, they also point out that warmer than average temperatures are now common and that weather patterns that bring particularly hot and sunny spells to the UK will be fewer than in some recent hot summers, partly perhaps because of the expected development of moderate or strong La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The forecast for rainfall is for average in southern areas of the UK, average or above average rainfall more likely in the north.

Lots of good weather information in the Research section of the site, but what's La Niña? The BBC can tell us, briefly it's the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific - the opposite of the better known El Niño - in general, it says here, generally areas of the world that generally experience dry weather will be drier, while areas that generally experience wet weather (what, us?) will be wetter. However the effects aren't fully understood. Oh well...

Verdict Very average, but probably not a scorcher...

TIme Is Running Out For The Summer...

Pic by Dinky - OM album

Over at BBC Weather the Monthly Outlook says things are still looking grim for July after one of the wettest Junes on record. Apparently the jet stream, a zone of high-level winds that zap around high above the Atlantic would normally be blowing to the north of the British Isles pushing low pressure areas towards the unfortunate Scandinavians.

However, this year the jet stream's further south so Atlantic depressions are smacking right into the British Isles. Oh dear. The first half of the month looks set to continue the same way though, but things may improve for the second part of July, just in time for the school holidays it says here... Improve here means 'average temperatures'.

Verdict Crap until mid-July, blame the jet stream.

Summer Was In April

Pic by Andrew Terrill - OM album

That's the conclusion The Times reached when it delved into the weather situation, and it believes 'heavy rain that spoilt May and June looks set to stay for the rest of summer'.

Not good then. Based on Met Office research, it too believes that La Niña is behind it all. Apparently in a weird sci-fi sort of way, British weather is being mirrored in the southern hemisphere where 'similar bands of depressions have been sweeping 45 to 55 degrees latitude, similar latitudes to Britain and Northern Europe'.

Historical data suggests that we can expect more cloudiness, wetness and windiness if La Niña continues. Apparently in simple terms, La Niña changes the pattern of rainfall in the tropics, which disrupts the jetstreams which control our weather and bingo, weekend misery :-(

Verdict It's La Niña again and things look rubbish for the rest of the summer.

Wet Early Summer Fuels Fly Problem

Pic by Pete Aylmer- OM album

Just in case you weren't depressed already, Stackyard News says that the wet June and early July weather looks set to spark 'a fly explosion in many areas of the country'.

Apparently horse flies, midges, black flies and common cleggs all lay their eggs in and around water. This is bad news for farmers and their livestock, but not great for walkers and climbers either given that cleggs and midges feed on blood and aren't fussy about who they get it from. Nice...

Verdict Start stockpiling insect repellant now...

So What Does It All Mean?

Pic by John Fitzpatrick- OM album

On the face of it, things are pretty depressing. The good news is that long-term weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, so the damp and gloomy outlook may change.

Right now the consensus seems to be that an area of high pressure over the Azores and jet stream patterns changed by La Niña in the Pacific means that fronts which would normally pass to the north of us are instead bringing rain and more rain which rightfully belongs to Scandinavia and Iceland.

Having said that, the weather actually looks okay for the weekend :-)

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Discuss this story

Sorry folks, I have to put my hand up for this one, after many years of prevarication I finally quit my job to tackle the South West Coast Path. Started on 28th May, jokingly telling my (ex) work colleagues to prepare for the wettest June in living memory!
Finished on 4 July looking quite brown, but that must be wind and rust damage!
So apologies once again, I will give advance warning if I venture out again

Posted: 06/07/2007 at 21:26

It sucks doesent it, cant believe the summer was so short. About 20 days of april and that was it. Gutted

Posted: 06/07/2007 at 21:30

Aye, it's pretty rubbish isn't it?

Posted: 06/07/2007 at 21:36

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