Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will Summer Be a Washout? Sarah O'Meara Finds out If It Is Really Going to Be a Long, Wet Summer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will Summer Be a Washout? Sarah O'Meara Finds out If It Is Really Going to Be a Long, Wet Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah O'Meara

HOPES were high after the first largely rain-free Wimbledon in years. But just days after Nadal nailed it, experts were declaring that this summer would be a washout. Sure enough, light rain soon became what experts called a European Monsoon.

But despite soggy sandals and the sound of water dripping off the barbecue, should we admit defeat for another year?

Today is St Swithin's Day, and traditionally if it rains today it will continue to do so for the next 40 days. So here's hoping for clear skies...

Rob Hutchinson, weather forecaster for MeteoGroup UK, says headlines predicting a miserable summer could be wrong.

"The phrase European Monsoon is used to describe the return of Westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean," he says.

"These tend to appear around this time of year bringing large amounts of rain and some pretty unpleasant weather. They've been largely absent up until a few years ago - and what's brought them back is anyone's guess."

But the good thing is that, according to Hutchinson, the appearance of these early storms is not a definite predictor of summer weather patterns.

"At the moment the weather is looking unsettled but that's not to say that, fingers crossed, come August we won't get more dry and settled weather," he says, cheerfully.

"Although some newspapers are predicting what the weather will be like in months and months time, I'd say that was impossible."

He explains that even the most sophisticated computers struggle to accurately predict weather patterns more than 10 days in advance and, despite scientists' efforts to discover longer-term methods of weather prediction, they are still a long way from a foolproof technique.

"What you can do is take a stab in the dark," he says. "Some forecast agencies offer a prediction of the amount of rainfall coming this summer by looking at climate patterns."

But while many of us might feel the weather is getting worse each year, Hutchinson reminds us that Britain has never been known for its temperate climate.

"Summer is the sunniest time of year but that's partly because we have so many more daylight hours. In summer we do tend to get more high pressure which brings more settled weather, but I also think that the public's perception of summer has changed.

"We've got used to having hot and sunny periods when in the past - during the late 1980s and early 1990s - we had some pretty atrocious summers, similar to this."

As soon as the weather becomes a little erratic, the ugly issue of climate change looms into view. But Hutchinson says: "It's all too easy to blame all weather on global warming.

"Whether we get a wet or dry summer, people say it's due to global warming.

"The trouble is we've only got a couple of hundred years' worth of records to go back on, so although there may be trends which indicate what's happening with climate change, it's difficult to find them. …

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