Dry weather returns to UK following 2nd wettest year

Thursday 3 January 2013, 11:27

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

UPDATE at 1pm on Mon 7th Jan

2012 was provisionally 3rd wettest on record according to the England & Wales rainfall series which started in 1766, behind 1872 and 1786. December was also the wettest since 1978 in the same dataset.

ENDS

2012 averaged across the UK was the second wettest on record in data which stretches back to 1910, falling short of a new record by only 6.6mm.

In total 1330.7mm fell last year, compared with the average of 1154mm.

A new record has been set across England and Wales with 1205mm of rain.

And locally new records have been set for Yorkshire, with 1230.8mm (136% of average) and Lincolnshire with 841.3mm (135% of average).

It's been a remarkable run of wet years in the UK since 1998; 6 years are now in the top 10 wettest - 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2008 & 2012.

Even more striking are figures based on the much longer England and Wales rainfall data series, first started in 1766.

2012 is provisionally in the top 4 wettest in 246 years (the other years being 2000, 1872 & 1786).

Also of significance is that 2012 is the only year in this 246 year data set in which 2 calendar months set new records for rainfall: April and June.

2012 has certainly been a remarkable year which has seen the jet stream too far south for long periods of time.

But weather patterns are very different as we head into early 2013. The jet stream has re-positioned itself further north, with high pressure building across the country.

This means an emphasis on much drier weather across the UK as whole in the next few days, which will come as a huge relief to many, although rain is expected early next week.

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Comments

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    I like it when Paul mentions 'You will be unlucky if you get caught in a shower' because I know he means me I now take an umbrella :) (Viewer participation or is it precipitation :/)

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    So I see it's getting wetter, it is me or is this cyclical every 115 years (ish) for the wettest years?

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    Comment number 3.

    The UKMO and the BBC are putting a lot of emphasis on the claim that 2012 is the second wettest in the U.K., "since records began", but as Paul points out, that is only based ond the regional dataset which goes back to 1910, a little over 100 years.
    Virtually no mention is made of the HadUKP dataset, which for England & Wales, starts in 1766, in which, the year 2012 was only the 4th wettest in on record and not as wet as 1872 and 1786.
    The BBC even said today that the 2000 was "the wettest ever year". Clearly they haven't heard of the HadUKP data series.
    The UKMO is also guilty of "short-termism", when it claims that "extreme daily rainfall" events are becoming more frequent, by only using figures since 1960.
    Correlation of UKMO daily rainfall figures for England & Wales, which go back to 1931, with annual rainfall figures, suggest that it is quite likely that the frequency of such events was as high as it is now, during the 1920's, 1870's and possibly the 1770's.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    I heard Roger Harribin twadling on about this earlier on the Today program and now Paul presents a precis of the same story. I was under the impression that HADUKP\EWP was updated on the 5th of the following month after being 'quality controlled' - yet today is only the 3rd? Are the figures being banded about today provisional or MOHC 'finalised' ones?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    In the past the MO have announced rainfall figures via the BBC, before the period in question is actually over.
    On June 30th 2010, the MO announced that rainfall from January to June 2010 in the UK was the lowest since 1929, with a figure of 356.8mm to the end of june.
    This was based on provisional figures calculated before the end of June.
    It turned out that the actual rainfall figure was 362.5mm, making it only the driest since 1953, not quite as impressive. Note that back then, they were claiming that low rainfall was a sign of "climate change".
    The problem is that the MO don't announce the revised figures as widely as the original ones and all the media and the public remember is the original announcement.
    Actually all MO rainfall figures should be considered "provisional" as they can be changed several years after they were originally published.
    I recently noticed that daily rainfall figures going back approximately 10 years had been changed, making it necessary for me to completely re-calculate some analysis I had done on the figures.
    It is quite possible that at some point in the future, the rainfall figures for 2012 will be revised downwards, thus changing it's ranking since 1910, but nobody will ever hear about that.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    The Met Office and the BBC, yet again, conveniently forget that conclusions FOLLOW data quality control. Clearly it's still more important to get the message out there than it is to ensure it's the right message.

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    Comment number 7.

    The following is from the pen of Philip Eden in the Sunday Telegraph 30th Dec 2012. The bold is mine

    Record rainfall and dull days will put 2012 in history books

    The England and Wales precipitation series is a record of monthly rainfall statistics that extends to 1766. There are other rainfall series, notably for Britain and its constituent countries, but all of these date from 1910 only. For a true historical perspective, we need to refer to the one that began in 1766.

    The amount of rain that has fallen so far in 2012 has been 47.24in, which is about 126 per cent of the long term average. The only years that were wetter than 2012 in the two-and-a-half century long record were 2000 with 48.33in, 1872 with 50.59in, 1852 with 47.76in and 1768 with 49.11in. There were only four instances in 247 years. Therefore, we can say that, on average, a year as wet as 2012 has a one-in-60 chance of recurring…….


    Philip Eden
    Past vice president of the Royal Meteorological Society.

    There is a lot more in the article but I can’t find it online, so no link.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    whatever happend to the mediterranean climate, the hotter drier summers the milder winters?

    they are basically making it up as they go along now, with any weather patterns pointed to as as undeniable proof of global warming, climate change or whatever daft description they decide upon

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    #7. - greensand wrote:
    "There is a lot more in the article but I can’t find it online, so no link."
    I don't think the Philip Eden articles in the S.T. are available on line, but I think I will be able to obtain a copy.
    In my post #3, I meant 1768, not 1786.
    Paul H. says that according to HadUKP, 2012 was wetter than 1852, although the MO data files haven't been updated yet with December.
    I don't think that the fact that there have been two "once in 60 year" years since 2000 is significant, as that could happen at random.
    There is no doubt that we are currently experiencing higher than average rainfall and more days with higher than average rainfall, but I don't think there is any evidence to attribute that to "climate change".
    What *really* annoys me is that the MO and the BBC are repeating the misleading statement that "records began in 1910", when for England & Wales they began in 1766.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    "Statistics for December and 2012 - is the UK getting wetter?"

    "Provisional statistics from the Met Office show 2012 was the second wettest year in the UK national record dating back to 1910, and just a few millimetres short of the record set in 2000."

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/2012-weather-statistics

    The UK founded in 1910, re-calibrated in 1960, now with a 1981-201o average, the wonders of the moving feast.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    3. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "Virtually no mention is made of the HadUKP dataset, which for England & Wales, starts in 1766, in which, the year 2012 was only the 4th wettest in on record and not as wet as 1872 and 1786."

    How do we know that if (as you say in #9) "the MO data files haven't been updated yet with December"?

    I'm not saying you're not right; I'm just wondering if you have some information that I've missed.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    Funny in spring how they were saying that we were in serious danger of drought and that it would take years to fill the water table. 9 months later.

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    Comment number 13.

    #11. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "How do we know that if (as you say in #9) "the MO data files haven't been updated yet with December"?"

    I assumed that based on what P.H. said above, i.e.
    "2012 is provisionally in the top 4 wettest in 246 years (the other years being 2000, 1872 & 1786)."
    I assumed that this meant it was provisionally higher than 1852 but lower than 2000. If 2012 had been wetter than 2000, it would have been in the top 3 etc.
    Not sure where Paul gets the provisional figure from.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    goodish point @12 . . .

    The weather doesn't really respect man-made calendars so it is a pretty wet 9 month period - whatever the stats may or may not say.

    On an earlier thread, I mentioned something similar to ukip but this time regarding the dry 1975/76 period. The 'clowns' runing the place foolishly said it would take years to fill up the ressies etc. . . took about 4 weeks!

    Also mentioned what Prof H Lamb had identified 40 years ago as patterns were becoming more fixed for longer periods. Let's go and re-invent the wheel . . . .

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    10. greensand wrote:

    "The UK founded in 1910, re-calibrated in 1960, now with a 1981-201o average, the wonders of the moving feast."

    I applied the MO's method of using 30 year average precipitation every 10 years (from the 'Annual average UK rainfall according to 30-year averages' table in your link) to the HadUKP data.

    There are 22 of these distinct three-decade long periods so far in HadUKP. There are certainly ups and downs if you join the dots between these data, but there is also an overall upward trend, with the latest full 30 year period (1981-2010) being higher than any other (they start at 1771-1800 and end at 1981-2010).

    Hard to know what, if anything, to read into this. We always have to take into account the UK's unique geographical location WRT the rest of Northern Europe, exposed as we are to the North Atlantic Current, with all the fun that brings.

    But based on full three decade averages, rainfall does appear to be increasing according to data from the HadUKP record. If the period 1991-2020 extends this rise (and 2012 data suggest that it may be on course to do so), then we might be able to say something about it with more confidence.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    The UAH temperature anomaly for December = 0.202c, compared with 0.282c in November.
    N.H. = 0.142c, v 0.299c
    S.H. = 0.261c, v 0.265c
    This makes the annual figure 0.161c compared with 0.130c for 2011, and makes 2012 the 9th warmest on record.
    A bit lower than I would have expected from AQUA CH5, and I had been about to post that I didn't think there would be much change in the figures last month, but I am glad I didn't.
    Not sure if this will be reflected in other data series.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    15. newdwr54 wrote:

    "I applied the MO's method of using 30 year average precipitation every 10 years (from the 'Annual average UK rainfall according to 30-year averages' table in your link) to the HadUKP data."

    Interesting, but the whole point is that the MO chose not use HadUKP data, they used “the UK national record dating back to 1910”

    Hence, "The UK founded in 1910, re-calibrated in 1960, now with a 1981-2010 average, the wonders of the moving feast."

    The HadUKP data has been showing an increasing trend over the whole of the 247 year record. I have charts checking it 2 years ago as then it had been predicted that the reducing trend in precipitation observed since 2000 would continue and lead to increasing incidents of drought in the UK?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    16. QuaesoVeritas:

    Thanks for that. December 2012 becomes the sixth warmest December in the UAH record. One effect of this month's value is that it pushes the UAH 30-year trend back up to +0.17 C/dec.

    A point to note about this is that during 2013 the start end of the 30-year trend is going to come across some relatively cool temperatures, particularly the 1984/85 period. January 1984 was -0.42 in UAH and 1984 is the coolest year in their record. 1985 wasn't much warmer.

    Fans of only using 15 years data should note that the extreme El Nino warming of 1998, which is currently warm-loading the start end of that period, will be over by October 2013.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    #18. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "Fans of only using 15 years data should note that the extreme El Nino warming of 1998, which is currently warm-loading the start end of that period, will be over by October 2013."
    Not sure who the fans of using 15 years data, but they will no doubt extend that to 16, 17, 18, as 1998 moves further into the past and the period of low trends gets longer.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    "2012 has certainly been a remarkable year which has seen the jet stream too far south for long periods of time. "


    I've been flagging that up for 5 years now having first noted the reversal of trend beginning around 2000.

    Our CO2 was supposed to push the jets poleward and indeed they did shift poleward during the warming spell.

    Now we have them way south despite even more CO2.

    Meanwhile the sun has gone quiet and a new paper links solar activity to the intensity of the AO and AAO which I have been pointing up for some time.

    I don't think they have the diagnostics right yet though and I explained in 2010 how I thought it worked.

    It will be interesting to see how it turns out when more data is available.

 

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