British Summertime – Unreliable?

Recent overload caused a bit of a blogging hiatus. Between work and work-related travel, DIY, visitors from overseas and parties, blogging got squeezed out. Blogging is a good escape, but it doesn’t get things done. There’s a busy summer ahead, and the weather isn’t helping.

Last weekend there were two birthdays for us to celebrate, including a rather significant one.  As with every summer in the UK, plans were made more in hope than expectation of good weather –

To barbecue, or not to barbecue: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler to admit defeat from
The stings of rain and unseasonable weather,
Or to take precautions against chills and breezes,
And brave the elements? (with apologies to The Bard)

After previous forecasting disasters (30 Apr. 2009Britain will have first decent ‘barbecue summer’ in three years with temperatures regularly above 80 F22 Mar. 2010Barbecue summer really is on the cards this year, says firm that predicted the big freeze) surely no-one will dare to utter the words “barbecue summer” again…?

21 May 2012 – Forecasters predict barbecue summer to rival 2003 as temperatures rocket to 27C tomorrow. Summer will arrive early tomorrow with a 17C temperature swing finally delivering sweltering highs of 27C as experts forecast a sweltering summer on a par with the record-breaking 2003 and 2006 scorchers.

Certainly, with glorious weather in the week leading up to 1st June, it seemed a good choice to party outdoors with thirty guests expected.  When the day arrived it was cold and rain threatened.  Luckily it held off until we’d cooked the food and we were just starting to eat when we all suddenly had to make a mad dash indoors. Actually it was a relief to be inside and warm.

On Sunday, we lit a fire (!) and watched the rain-soaked Jubilee Pageant.

03 June 2012 Britain in June was doing a passable impression of Britain in December this morning.

This week it is no better…

07 Jun 2012European monsoon brings 70mph winds, torrential rain and 40ft waves. Britain is being battered by a ‘European monsoon’ packing near hurricane-force 70mph winds, up to four inches’ rain and 40ft waves at sea.

08 Jun 2012The June gales always humble our foresight. The only reliable aspect of our weather is its unreliability – says The Telegraph –

Weather for ducks

The truly surprising thing about our summer weather is that we constantly let it take us by surprise.

Now, with the rain, gales and a threatened “monsoon”, we are again scrabbling at the back of our cupboards – this time for the windcheaters and wellies that we rashly assumed we wouldn’t need again until after the Olympics.

09 Jun 2012 – Summer postponed until July. Summer weather may not arrive until July with showers expected to linger for most of this month, forecasters have said.

All this reminded me of a page on (which used to be a ‘go to’ site for me for weather and now seems in demise).  The Year Ahead feature summarises the more reliable and predictable phases of the average year’s weather in Britain, and, casting my eye back over the weather in the last 6 weeks, the phases set out below (bold mine) seem to be ‘spot on’.

Period Usual Weather Confidence Weather
23 Apr to 16 May Again, a cool period usually, however the Atlantic starts to quieten down and winds from the North or East are very common whilst Westerlies are rare. 67%
17 May to 31 May This period is known as the fore-monsoon, traditionally dry and warm with high pressure over the UK and continent. 88%
1 Jun to 4 Jun The first wave of the ‘European Summer Monsoon’ as low pressure moves in from the West bringing cooler weather and heavy slow moving showers. 77%
10 Jun to 14 Jun The second wave of the ‘European Summer Monsoon’ bringing more wet and windy weather, between the periods expect better weather as the Azores high begins to expand. 77%

Is this just based on good old-fashioned weather records and averages? None of that concern over that fickle ‘climate change’ malarkey. And, that being the case, shall we see what might be in store for the next few weeks?

18 to 27 Jun The third and final wave of the ‘European Summer Monsoon’ brings more wet and windy weather to the UK with further heavy showers. 77%
10  to 22 Jul A traditional warm period for the UK, the first of the ‘Phew, whatta scorcher!’ headlines hits the press as the Azores high builds and extends over the UK. 50%  

Chances are we can rely on at least an ‘average’ summer this year.  Let’s hope that’s good weather, as often observed, just in time for the school holidays.

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4 Responses to British Summertime – Unreliable?

  1. gallopingcamel says:

    It seems that little has changed weather wise since I left the UK thirty years ago.

    Flanders & Swann summed it all up up in a song:

  2. Pascvaks says:

    When you remember that the Brits (well more like the Celts taught the Brits and the Brits commercialized the process;-) were the first to make Pubs and Pubs were the first to perfect fireside cooking and steak sauce, then it only stands to reason that anyone wishing to BBQ in the Isles would naturally use the preferred and time tested method and not take a chance on the weather.

  3. Pascvaks says:

    Something I dreamed up over at Chiefio, the “Pub’a Q”
    Brits need to get away from Bar-B-Que, and BBQ, and whatever West Texas Kind-a-Q’s that need to cook outside in/on a metal grill or pit or spit over Henry Ford’s little charcoals or chunks of mesquite, and go back to their time-tested and award winning champion method of inside Qooking as shown above in my last comment. If y’all really want to feel charitable toward yer Yankee cousins ya’ can call it “Pub’a Q”, but ya really don’t even deed to do that. Anyone got a match?

    PS: Y’all still have Pubs? Ya ain’t closed ’em all have ye? Yuz folks need ta stop drinkin dat French spring water, it’s pizon!

  4. Pingback: still only weather…light the barbie, it’s summer | pindanpost

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