We are obsessed with weather. Before going on holiday we check the forecast at least twice a day (hell, we even check it when we’re back home just to see what we’re missing out on). So naturally, this unpredictable British summer (scrap that, it is predictable: it rains every day) is giving us plenty to talk about.
Why is the sky chucking down so much precipitation that we can’t even remember The Time Before Rain? Why do we shiver on the train platform every morning like it’s November, when we should be basking in warm sunshine like a contented labrador in a Spanish doorway?
“Our weather is directed by winds high up in the atmosphere called the jet stream. Since April the jet stream has remained unusually far south, lingering over southern England – we’d expect it to have moved up towards Iceland by now – bringing in cool temperatures, gale-force winds and higher-than-average rainfall. Any weather systems coming in from the mid-Atlantic that would usually be carried off up to Iceland, are coming straight at us,” Leon Brown, chief meteorologist at The Weather Channel, tells Emerald Street.
“Rainfall is well above average for this time of year and we’re currently on course for the wettest June on record. The temperature is also a good two or three degrees below what we’d expect for June,” he says. “But most of this bad weather has escaped Scotland, with Wales and southern England being worst affected. Other countries like France, Holland and Belgium are also experiencing the deluge.”
So what’s the outlook? “The 30-day forecast sees a continuation of the current unsettled weather,” says Met Office spokesperson Charles Powell, who sounds pleasingly like a weather forecaster during our phone chat. “There will be dry and fine days mixed with some showery spells. There are no strong signals for any one type of weather through July but temperatures should return to an average of high teens and low 20s. So with a mix of sunshine and showers, it’s very much a typical British summertime.”
This isn’t even the worst summer we’ve ever had. ”June 2007 was extremely wet and we had 300% more rainfall than average over the course of the summer. 1789 was also a write-off when almost 350mm of rain fell,” says Brown.
And thank the moisture-riddled heavens we’re not back in the summer of 1956, when around 358mm of rain fell over the UK in June, July and August. This BBC video shows skirts of lady shoppers blowing up in the wind, deserted deck chairs and Tunbridge Wells residents clearing ice after a freak August hailstorm.