Unusually dry weather in 2011

There has been a marked lack of rainfall across parts of the UK this year, with some areas seeing their driest January to October period on record. The Midlands and East Anglia have been particularly badly affected, but the whole of the south of the country is well down on normal rainfall levels.

Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Rutland and Shropshire have all had their driest first ten months of the year in the Met Office records, which go back to at 1910. Each of those counties has had just over 60% of the normal amount of rainfall we would expect for the period.

Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Huntingdonshire and Worcestershire are not far behind, as they have all notched up totals which are the second or third driest in the records.

District / Region Jan – Oct total     1971-2000 Average % of Average Comment
Northamptonshire

308.4

530.8

58

Driest since 1929, 3rd driest in series
Leicestershire

326.9

540.0

61

Driest in series
Warwickshire

335.9

552.7

61

Driest in series
Rutland

328.7

533.5

62

Driest in series
Shropshire

382.6

620.1

62

Driest in series
Nottinghamshire

322.3

510.7

63

Driest since 1959, 2nd driest in series
Huntingdonshire

297.0

463.7

64

Driest since 1929, 3rd driest in series
Worcestershire

355.4

550.5

65

Driest since 1921, 3rd driest in series

There is no specific reason for this year’s dry weather across the south – it is just down to the natural variability in the conditions we expect to see. This year we have seen long spells influenced by a ‘blocking pattern’, particularly in Spring and during this Autumn. This is where a high pressure over Europe – and close to the UK– blocks the weather systems which come in off the Atlantic, sending them further to the north. These weather systems usually bring rain with them – so when they’re blocked, we see less rainfall.

The counterpart of this is that areas on the edge of the blocking pattern can see higher than average rainfall, as the weather systems are regularly pushed past the same area. This is why some parts of Scotland have seen unusually wet conditions. For example, Dumfriesshire, Clackmannanshire, and Fifeshire have all seen their third wettest January to October periods in the records – all having 30-40% more rain than you would expect.

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