Thursday, March 21st 2013, 11:21 AM EDT
IT MAY surprise you to know as you huddle under your umbrella or your face is lashed by persistent rain or sleet that this time last year former environment secretary Caroline Spelman had just declared parts of the country were in drought. A big one too; predicted to be the worst for 124 years.
Hosepipe bans had been announced which were to affect 22 million people over the southeast and east of England and we were told to expect dried-up riverbeds and depleted reservoirs.
Horticulturists were even suggesting we all consider cacti in our gardens while Spelman appealed to us to be careful every time we turned on the tap.
"We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water," she declared following a crisis meeting of industry bodies, regulators and conservationists.
Meanwhile a report brought out by the Environment Agency last March warned of dire environmental and agricultural repercussions were the drought to continue.
It did not.
Barely was the hosepipe ban announced than it started to rain. And rain and rain and rain and rain and rain.
In April last year more than twice the average rainfall fell on the UK and it didn't stop there. June was the wettest since records began and the country's drought warnings started to be replaced by flood warnings. Spelman observed dryly: "I could be deluded into thinking I had the power to make it rain."
BY JUNE Thames Water lifted its hosepipe ban (no one had been prosecuted) and it poured down relentlessly over the extended Diamond Jubilee weekend with thousands of bystanders and even the Queen and Prince Philip getting soaked during the River Thames pageant.
By July several outdoor gigs had to be cancelled, including a Hyde Park concert that was to feature Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan reuniting for the first time in 20 years.
During the Olympics London Mayor Though eastern Boris Johnson commented how a sudden downpour made the female beach volley ball players "glisten like wet otters".
is always the west had the increase in 41 per average 1990 Last year was a washout. In fact 2012 narrowly missed out on being Britain's wettest ever on record. It fell short by just 0.25in (6.6mm). As it was, an average of 52in (1,331mm) fell over the UK last year - enough to fill 130million Olympic swimming pools.
And while reservoirs and rivers were filled the serious drawbacks of all the rain were easy to behold as families had to be evacuated from flooded homes.
The Environmental Agency issued 200,000 flood warnings while insurance companies estimated that the cost of the flooding was thought to reach £13billion.
There were other worrying it has greatest rainfall of above since repercussions too. Farmers pointed to the worst growing conditions for three decades as a result of delayed harvests caused by waterlogged fields.
Transport up and down the country was severely hit with rail links affected by the torrential rain while the wet weather detrimentally affected the breeding of birds, moths and butterflies.
It also seems as if 2012 was part of a pattern because Britain appears to be getting progressively wetter.
The Met Office says rainfall has increased by two per cent annually since 2010 and by five per cent since 1990, while five of the wettest years since 1910 have occurred in the 21st century.
Understandably after yet another rain-lashed weekend the question being asked now is: will this year follow suit and be a washout? Jonathan Powell, from Vantage Weather Services, is certainly not predicting a sunny outcome for the months ahead.
"This year's summer doesn't look great," he says. "All our indicators show that it will probably be on a par with last year and continue the trend for wet conditions.
"We will probably have a threat of flooding as well as the odd run of fine and dry days that will be quickly broken down by thunderstorms. I doubt we will have another long hot summer like 1976."
Part of the problem is that the UK is at the mercy of the jet stream: a fast-flowing ribbon of air high in the atmosphere The place last was St Essex with 514mm never a ban that pushes weather systems from the west to the east across the Atlantic towards Europe.
Powell adds: "In the summer the jet stream should be to the north of the UK allowing all the warm continental air to rise up and stay across northern latitudes.
So far year of the region the UK 27.5in/of driest year Osyth in 20.2in/it has had "The problem is when the jet stream stays too far to the south of Britain. This allows the Atlantic fronts and all the poorer weather to spill in. That is what happened to a large extent last summer."
As to what is affecting the jet stream itself or whether there are other factors that are this west is soggiest of with 700mm rainfall condemning us to wet summers, Powell says there is no straight answer.
"If you were to ask the Met Office they would probably say it's global warming. If you asked Weather Action they would probably put it down to solar activity.
"However if you asked me I would say that it's all to do with weather patterns and that weather is cyclical. At the moment we are going through a wet period but there is a silver lining.
Statistically speaking, in the same segment of 15 years there has to be one glorious summer in there somewhere. It's just difficult to pin down when that elusive summer will be but it must surely be before 2020."
Until then the best option is just to cling on to those cagoules.
Source Link: express.co.uk