What's with the UK weather in July 2007?
July 20, 2007 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Weather experts: What's happening to cause the bizarre UK weather these past four weeks?

The year was normal, although remarkably dry, until June. In late June we had several inches of rainfall over the course of 24 hours (and resulting floods), and in the 4 weeks since, nothing has been the same. Of 20 days so far in June, it has rained here (Northern England) 19 of those days (it is raining right now too). London had ice storms on July 3, and today swathes of England have been flooded once again.

What's going on? I'm not really looking for "it's global warming" type answers, even though that probably has something to do with it, but more about the actual "patterns" or cycles that are convening here in this particular case. Is it connected to El Nino (or something El Nino-esque)? Why is the weather so consistently uncharacteristic? In England we're used to dealing with the odd day or week of crazy weather.. but 4 solid weeks of rain in a typically dry season.. what gives?
posted by wackybrit to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't looked this up myself yet, although I've been likewise looking out the window going 'wtf?' and 'but why is the sun gone?' all month, but a useful starting search term might be "North Atlantic Oscillation"; it's sort an El NiƱo-like thing only, of course, in the North Atlantic.
posted by Lebannen at 7:41 AM on July 20, 2007

FWIW, I was in London for 10 days starting April 1st, and the weather was very warm and dry. In fact, the unusual weather made BBC newscasts that I saw a few times while there, and I saw several articles about the weird weather in newspapers there too.

It was great for a tourist, but the locals were puzzled and concerned about their traditional English gardens.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:42 AM on July 20, 2007

jeff: April was lovely, one of the warmest, dryest Aprils on record IIRC. It's being raining since May started, we've had barely a sniff of summer.
posted by biffa at 7:50 AM on July 20, 2007

From BBC News:
The UK's weather has partly been attributed to the La Nina system, which has lead to areas of warm water developing in the western Pacific, making the ocean surrounding Australia warmer than usual.

Matt Taylor, from the BBC Weather Centre, explained: "This has a different impact on weather systems across the world. It is helping to change patterns for us by driving the Atlantic jetstream a bit lower than normal.

"This means that instead of low pressure being driven towards Iceland, it is coming towards the UK which has become the focus for areas of rain."
Of course, it's probably a symptom of global warming too.
posted by electriccynic at 8:10 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Re: the global warming thing.

Freak weather is, well, freak weather. It's only when the freak weather becomes normal and predictable that we can say it's global warming.

Last July we had a heatwave that meant the UK was warmer than most European resorts. So this isn't typical.

It's just Britain.

One other thing that gets on my nerves is the phrase "since records began". It's just a useless phrase. It means nothing at all, other than to tell us the time that's occurred since when this last happened.

I also hate phrases like, "This is the wettest June since 1990". That's equally meaningless. So what?
posted by humblepigeon at 8:22 AM on July 20, 2007

Yes, it was lovely back around Easter. Today I wore a jacket and scarf on the way to work and I wasn't the only one. In Newcastle! In July! You don't even see scarves in midwinter around here.

The jet streams are very far south this year, meaning the country is getting the weather they normally have in the Shetlands or thereabouts. Hence, more rain. My onions all died in the ground waterlogged but the beans and peas are having a ball :) It's still a bit early in modelling terms to definitively say what the cause of this is, if it's not normal variation.

In the bigger picture the El Nino/Southern Oscillation originating in the Pacific (considered the engine for global weather) has knock-on effects for the North Atlantic oscillation. How this is affected by CO2 output, and why it appears to be speeding up, is a complex matter but I thought that Al Gore film did a good summary that most people can understand.

The causes of flooding, however, are as much rain as other factors. Hard earth from the dry earlier season, and lack of flood plains, marshes and the like. This is a very small, overfarmed and overbuilt island.
posted by methylsalicylate at 8:23 AM on July 20, 2007

It's been crap before. These things happen.
posted by meehawl at 11:32 AM on July 20, 2007

Thank you for asking and thank you to the people who answered, I feel less alone and odd in believing this weather is particularly unusual.
posted by saturnine at 2:27 PM on July 20, 2007

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