A tale of two Britains

Wednesday 04th Aug 2010 by theWeather Club

Paraphrasing the title of the famous Dickens novel is a particularly apt way of describing the British summer this year. The north west and south east have been experiencing two distinctly different seasons, with the southern regions often enjoying the kind of glorious summer we all remember having as children, while the north western parts of the country have suffered a summer washout. In typical British summers, warm weather drifts over from the Continent warming up the south and east, while the north and west are cooled by rain and winds from the Atlantic. But this year the north / south divide has been more extreme than usual, with an unusually stubborn block of high pressure sitting over the south east of the country. This means the cool, wet weather systems that having hit the north west, which would usually continue southwards, have been blocked, giving the south higher temperatures and lower rainfall. John Hammond of the Met Office said the variability in Britain is more pronounced this year: "For a small country we have seen some big differences over the last month." The north west and Wales experienced an average of 172mm of rain in July, double the average for the month. In contrast, the south experienced mainly bright and sunny periods of weather and saw an average of just 27mm of rain, just 40 per cent of the average expected for July.