2012 on course to be in wettest top 10

Tuesday 4 December 2012, 15:21

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

Only two thirds of average rainfall needs to fall across the UK in December for 2012 to end up in the top ten wettest years on record, according to Met Office data which was first collated over a hundred years ago in 1910.

Should this be the case, it would also mean that nearly half of the years since 1998 would be in the UK's top ten wettest years on record.

2000 (wettest), 2008, 2002, 1999, 1998, and if rainfall is sufficient, 2012, would all make it into the top 10.

1923, 1927 and 1928 are also in the top 10, illustrating that wet years do come in clusters, but the 1920's sequence is nothing like what we have experienced in recent years.

Such a rainfall sequence suggests that over and above any cyclical change to weather patterns that are naturally occurring, other factors are likely to be at work, fuelling suspicions that climate change is playing its part.

November was another wet month.

Across England and Wales, rainfall was 128 per cent of the 1981-2010 average, making it the 8th successive month with above average rainfall.

And in the last 100 years only 20 Novembers had more rainfall, despite the fact it was only the wettest since 2009.

The continued positioning of the jet stream further south than normal is responsible for the very wet weather.

Current computer projections suggest that December is unlikely to be another washout month dominated by the Atlantic.

Although more rain (or snow) is expected at times, high pressure is likely to exert much more of an influence than in recent months, leading overall to colder but somewhat drier conditions to develop.

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Comments

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    "Current computer projections suggest that December is unlikely to be another washout month dominated by the Atlantic. "

    Yup, Met talking about a "Sudden Stratospheric Warming" disrupting westerlies:-

    "For the UK in winter, that means a disruption to the westerly flow that usually brings mild air from the Atlantic and there is a potential to allow easterly winds to take hold, bringing in cold air from the continent."

    Full post:-

    "Cold weather clue in upper atmosphere"

    http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    Some people perform better in cold conditions, i always feel Christa stands out when it gets nippy.
    Bring on the snow...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    Paul I can remember the weather men going on about the drought conditions in spring, that it would take years to recover from it, even if we were deluged by rain. It was suggested that the weather had been too dry the last few years. Watch out for the cold and snow to throw even more scorn on predictions of man made global warming. Happy white Christmas Tim.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    Interesting post Mr Hudson, but it would have been nice to see some numbers or a graph alongside a statement like "but the 1920's sequence is nothing like what we have experienced in recent years."
    As it stands, it's difficult to get a grasp on the relative difference which leads you to say "suggests that over and above any cyclical change to weather patterns that are naturally occurring"

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    4. lateintheday wrote:

    "... it would have been nice to see some numbers or a graph alongside a statement like "but the 1920's sequence is nothing like what we have experienced in recent years."

    Yes, I thought that was a slightly odd comment.

    You can download the UK precipitation data from here and work out your own graphs, LitD: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/datasets/

    The current period, in terms of both the last ten years and the decade 2001-2010 was wetter than the 1920s in the UK, but only by a few mm per year on average.

    Not sure if that warrants the term "nothing like we've experienced"? It's pretty close.

    Perhaps Paul was referring to some other aspect of it that we've overlooked?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    5. newdwr54 wrote:

    Not sure if that warrants the term "nothing like we've experienced"? It's pretty close."

    Yup, also why "Across England and Wales", why not the UK?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    'Such a rainfall sequence suggests that over and above any cyclical change to weather patterns that are naturally occurring, other factors are likely to be at work, fuelling suspicions that climate change is playing its part.'

    Why?

    Other factors.... fairy dust?

    fuelling suspicions... by who, Greenpeace?

    tsk,tsk.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    7. ukpahonta wrote:

    "Why?"

    I don't know, whilst I try very hard to stick to observational data, it is difficult not to think that we are in the Climate Pantomime Season! I am sure there has been an increased activity in the "catastrophic" claims, and that the claims are becoming more and more out of step with reality.

    Either Nature = The Real World, decides to change its present pattern or there has to be a major change in the "group think" of its inhabitants.

    Either way there will be tears, our priority should be to reduce the amount of tears that are shed for those that suffer unnecessarily.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    Met office research says overall UK rainfall has increased in recent decades and suggest this is what would be expected in a warmer atmosphere as it would hold more moisture. My question to Paul Hudson though is this. In recent years summers have been wet and winters dry. How does that square with climate projections (based on global warming) of drier summers and wetter winters?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    9.Gadgetfiend wrote:

    “How does that square with climate projections (based on global warming) of drier summers and wetter winters?”

    Welcome to:-

    My Climate Change Garden!

    http://www.myclimatechangegarden.com/blog/mediterranean-plants-for-rain-or-shine

    "Kew Gardens planted The Mediterranean Garden in 2007 to educate and encourage gardeners to think about the wide range of drought loving plants that will survive our hotter summers. The plants are well established despite the record summer rainfall of 2007/2008 and are simply loving the mercury busting temperatures so far in 20011(sic)"

    http://www.myclimatechangegarden.com/blog/mediterranean-plants-for-rain-or-shine

    “My Climate Change Garden!” Just how many that know now’t about ow't are on this “group think” gravy train?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    thanks for the link newdwr54.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    How come the year 2007 did not make it into the top ten, with the solid two months of very heavy rain night and day, every single day. This caused devastating floods, particularly in the North and also in the South such as Tewkesbury.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    From previous thread:-

    lateintheday wrote:

    “On a related note, (and probably stupid) but does anyone know if the Walker circulation picks up any of the antarctic sea ice melt and then transports it via humboldt current toward the central pacific?”

    I thought it was the other way around – Humboldt brought cool water up the coast of South America and the Walker Circulation (trade winds) transported it toward the central pacific?

    Can I take it you have been watching developments off the coast of Ecuador?

    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.gif

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    "Such a rainfall sequence suggests that over and above any cyclical change to weather patterns that are naturally occurring, other factors are likely to be at work, fuelling suspicions that climate change is playing its part."

    Not really.

    The jets just moved south because of natural cooling and happen to be stuck for the time being, again from natural causes.

    Most likely the rate of cooling has stabilised for a while leaving the jets across us.

    If the rate of cooling accelerates they will move further south and we get drier.

    If the cooling turns back to warming they will move north again and we will get drier.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    "My question to Paul Hudson though is this. In recent years summers have been wet and winters dry. How does that square with climate projections (based on global warming) of drier summers and wetter winters?"


    i) Drier summers and wetter winters for the UK occur when the jets are north of us. That is what the alarmists expected.

    ii) Wetter summers and drier winters for the UK occur when the jets are south of us.

    Therefore the recent changes must be natural and there is no sign of any anthropogenic component.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    The temperatures are now starting to go into a trough. The weather was exactly like this before we had the sever weather the year before last. I suspect the heavy snow will start to come in January. buy your snow shovels early.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    I've been trying to figure out what Paul Hudson meant by "the 1920's sequence is nothing like what we have experienced in recent years" by messing around with the UK rainfall data: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/datasets/

    The only thing I can come up with is if you look at the data as long term average rainfall. 30 years is the recommended period for identifying trends in surface temperatures, so applying that to rainfall in the UK, then the past thirty years is indeed quite a bit higher than any average 30 year period that includes the 1920s. (The first full 30 year average starts in 1939, because the data series only starts in 1910; but the 1920s are included in all 30 year averages up to 1959).

    Before 2004, the 30 year period with the highest average was 1910-1939, with 1,101 mm/decade. Then there was a gradual decline, bottoming out in 1981, with the period 1952-1981 experiencing 1,049 mm/dec on average. After that it rose sharply. The thirty year period ended 2004 surpassed the one ended 1939 for the first time (1,103 mm/dec), and it all peaked in 2009, with 1972-2009 averaging 1,213 mm/dec.

    It's slackened off a bit since then, but if we get 2/3s December average rainfall this year, then the thirty year period ended 2012 will still be around 30 mm/dec wetter on average than any 30-year period that includes the 1920s.

    I think that must be what Paul means by the "nothing like what we've experienced in recent years" comment. I thought for a minute there he'd made a mistake, but probably not after all. He's pretty smart, old Paul, isn't he?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    16.Ukip wrote:

    "buy your snow shovels early."

    Thanks Ukip; I'll see if my aunt in Toronto is selling hers: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/12/04/toronto-warm-december-weather.html

  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    Re: 17,

    Sorry, I keep saying 'per decade' because I'm usually discussing trends with GS. In fact those figures in #17 are the *annual* average for the whole 30 year periods in question.

    It's the same odds though. The last 30 years have been on average about 30mm per year wetter than any 30 year period that included the 1920s.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    Greensand@13 "I thought it was the other way around – Humboldt brought cool water up the coast of South America and the Walker Circulation (trade winds) transported it toward the central pacific?"
    Well you know how it is - you read a few bits and bobs and a picture forms in your head. In this instance, a few bits came together to form what was probably an entirely stupid thought. As you state, the strength of the trade winds seem to drive the amount of cold water upwelling but what determines the relative coldness of the subsurface pools? I then read recently (Shephard, I think) that antarctic melt moves around geographically so that for example, an area in the East may see growth for a couple of years followed by a year or two of reduction. It then struck me that floating ice is subject to stress points. The further out a sheet extends, the more vulnerable it becomes to fracturing. AHA - me thought! Wonder if that's where the variation in temperature of cold upwelling water is coming from. Taking it one step further, I then considered how antarctic ice loss, just in the right place, and then processed through ENSO might actually be part of the polar see-saw. It's genius I tell you! Sheer genius.
    Thing is, I read a Tisdale post today which described ENSO very well. After digestion, I now consider my eureka moment the dumbest thing since sliced bread. Ho hum...
    I know I didn't have to fess up, but you did ask.

 

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Hello, I’m Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. 

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I worked as a forecaster with the Met Office for nearly 15 years locally and at the international unit, after graduating with first class honours in Geophysics and Planetary physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992. I then joined the BBC in October 2007, where I divide my time between forecasting and reporting on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

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