This afternoon a friend on Islay sent me an image of the grass near Blackrock, burnt as you can see by the sun, and dried out because of a lack of rain. It's not only Islay that is experiencing a long and mostly dry spell. Other areas in Scotland and England have similar dry weather. Between January and May this year, average UK rainfall was 318.9mm, compared with a long-term average of 424.1mm. On the website Climate Realists you can find the following information: "Britain's driest start to a year for almost half a century has led to the countryâ€™s first drought warning being issued amid fears of an imminent hosepipe ban.The lack of rain across the UK in 2010 has already forced one water company to activate its drought plan after revealing it needs at least three months of rainfall to restock its dwindling reservoirs. The Met Office said UK rainfall totals in the first five months of the year were the lowest since 1964. And it offered little hope of relief, with June â€œon course to be another dry monthâ€."
I'm not going into the consequences of this dry weather in detail. What is equally interesting is to try and find an outlook for the next month or so. Will there be enough rain to make up for the drought or will this dry spell continue? Let me say first that long term weather forecasting is tricky business as we all know although the results are improving in the recent years. Last year the Met Office predicted a "BBQ summer" but it turned out to be a wash-out. So much for long term (seasonal) weather forecasts. If we stick to a monthly forecast you can find several predictions and they all seem to point towards another dry month of July and perhaps a warm and dry season. Continue reading....
The UK Outlook for Monday 12 Jul 2010 to Monday 26 Jul 2010 on the Met Office website has the following predictions: "Probably remaining fairly unsettled, with rain or showers at times in the north and west, and the best of the drier and brighter weather in the south and east. Rainfall amounts may be above normal at first in some northern parts, but for the rest of the country it should be around normal for this time of year. Likewise, sunshine amounts will probably be around the seasonal average. For many places, daytime temperatures are likely to be above normal for most of the period, but it may become very warm in the south of the UK at times." Melissa Marksworth from PWS says about July: "July generally starts unsettled for Scotland and Northern Ireland, but considerably better for England and Wales, and in particular, south east England and east England. So expect some unsettled conditions to the north, with showers very much in evidence, coupled with moderate but not impressive temperatures. To the south, high pressure persists, so more in the way of drier weather, with some decent temperatures, pushing into the mid 20's at times. Affairs tend to settle down for the north and continue to hold for the south through the middle part of the month, with the best of the weather still to the far south east, where temperatures will remain in the 20's. A fair amount of sunshine can be expected here too. For the latter part of July, chiefly dry again for a good many areas, the best again, to the south. July also ends on a chiefly dry and warm to very warm note, and this in turn will spark off thunderstorm activity. 30c may well be surpassed quite easily. Over all, I anticipate another drier than average month, with temperature values above normal." Jonathan Powell, Senior Forecaster at Positive Weather Solutions (PWS), said about the upcoming summer season: â€œThere will be stifling temperatures, making it possibly the warmest UK summer on record and placing it at least in the top three warmest summers recorded.â€
What it means if all the predictions come true in my opinion is that, although rainfall could well be normal for the month of July, it won't bring enough relief for the current drought. For that to happen the month of July should produce at least four times the normal rainfall which is, given the predictions, very unlikely.