St Swithin’s day – fact or meteorological myth?

Recently we have all been enjoying a run of prolonged, fine dry weather across much of the country. Today may be St Swithin’s day but for most of us, despite a rather cloudy and misty start across some parts, this has cleared to give many a dry and bright day. The only risk of rain is in north western Scotland and Stornaway.

So does that mean these few Scottish raindrops could mean the famed rhyme attributed to St Swithin’s day could come true?

St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t’will rain no more

It may sound convincing but when you take a look at the statistical archives here at the Met Office, it just doesn’t “wash”.

St Swithin was a monk who died around 862 AD and, according to legend, he requested his burial in the churchyard of the Old Minster (cathedral) at Winchester, in a spot where “the sweet rain from heaven might wet his grave.”

The legend says that when his remains were moved inside the cathedral on the 15th of July, his spirit was supposedly so outraged that it rained for the next forty days.

Unfortunately the weather rhyme which stemmed from this legend just doesn’t stack up. Since the start of records in 1861, there has never been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days in a row following St Swithin’s Day.

So you can’t make a 40-day forecast out of a rhyme and today’s weather. However, if you’d like a forecast out to 30-days, you can check out the forecasts on our website.

We can even give you a host of tips and suggestions on what to do, rain or shine throughout the summer, on our dedicated Get Ready for Summer pages.

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3 Responses to St Swithin’s day – fact or meteorological myth?

  1. This piece of weather lore must be linked to what the jet stream is doing. The forty days shouldn’t be taken too literally .

  2. Nanny Cool says:

    Be great if this lovely weather does last for 40 days!

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