Drought is obviously one thing that the British public rarely had to fret about last year, as 2012 has been revealed to be Britain’s wettest since records began in 1910. Indeed, provisional Met Office figures released in August suggested that last summer was both Britain’s second wettest on record and its wettest in 100 years.
The country’s wettest summer – ‘summer’ being defined by the Met Office as June, July and August – on record was in 1912. However, provisional Met Office figures for June, July and August 2012 up until 29 August 2012 show that the UK saw 366.8mm of rainfall compared with 384.4mm of rainfall in summer 1912. Meanwhile, the period of April to June 2012 has been revealed to be the wettest April to June period ever recorded in the UK.
Though the figures for summer 2012 were provisional, as there were still two days remaining in August at the time that they were collected, the BBC Weather Centre revealed that the rainfall was not expected to exceed the total amount of rainfall in 1912.
BBC weather presenter Laura Tobin has attributed the extent of wet weather to a jet stream – a fast moving band of air high in atmosphere – from America. The jet stream was supposed to sit across Scotland and northern England, but was in fact much further south in 2012.
Ms Tobin explained that this meant that “June was the wettest on record – most places had over one-and-a-half times more rain than they should have”. She added that “July was also one of the wettest months ever, with some areas like Dorset breaking records. August has been about average”.
In April 2012, seven water companies in southern and eastern England had brought in hosepipe bans following two unusually dry winters that had left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976. However, the hosepipe bans were lifted in June and July; this lifting had likely been encouraged by the country’s record rainfall in April and further rain in May and June which had led to some flooding. Indeed, 2012 saw the Environment Agency issue over 1,000 river flood alerts and warnings between 1 June and 15 July, the most issued in a summer since 2007.
However, the Met Office’s provisional figures suggested that August 2012 was set to be the driest and sunniest of the three summer months of 2012, due to the record of 105.5mm of rain to 29 August and 140 hours of sunshine up to 28 August. The month saw a mean temperature of 15.7 °C, but also the year’s hottest day up to the releasing of the provisional figures; a temperature of 32.4 °C was recorded at Cavendish, Suffolk, on 18 August.
Article by Philip Lomax of Select Furnishings – The UK’s leading garden furniture retailer.