30 Apr 2012

‘April is the wettest month’ – with apologies to TS Eliot

The Met Office has confirmed today that this April is the wettest on record in the UK, also making it the wettest in over a century as records began in 1910.

Figures up until the 29 April show that the UK has already seen 121.8mm of rain so far, which is much more than the 69.6mm that would be expected in a normal April. This beats the previous record of 120.3mm that was set in 2000.

Even more astonishing are the regional figures, with the long standing drought-hit Midlands and East Anglia receiving 227 per cent of their average April rainfall. Southern England also had rainfall way above normal with 234 per cent of the average.


Whilst much of the UK had a wetter than average month, Northern Ireland was an exception, with rainfall there 6 per cent below normal.

This announcement follows a weekend of heavy rain and gale force winds that toppled trees and power lines, as well as causing rivers to burst their banks, resulting in localised flooding for some parts of the England and Wales.

In terms of specific locations, Liscombe in Somerset has seen the most rainfall this month, with 273.8mm falling – more than three times the average of 86.4mm.

This wet April has followed a dry, sunny and warm March in which the UK had just 38 per cent of its average rainfall, with the temperature rising to 20C or above on numerous days.

In stark contrast, the Met Office says that no weather station in the UK has registered a temperature of 20C or above this month, something that hasn’t happened since 2006 and before that 1989.

The reason for the difference in the weather between this month and last month has been the position of the jet stream – a fast moving ribbon of air high up in the atmosphere that determines where our rain-bearing weather systems go.

Last month, the jet stream sat to the north of the UK, taking wind and rain across Iceland and Scandinavia, leaving us under the influence of high pressure, sunshine and warmth.

This month, the jet stream has been sitting to the south of the UK, which has meant low pressure after low pressure has pushed across us off the Atlantic Ocean.

The Environment Agency had issued more than 30 flood warnings on Monday afternoon, with their three day flood risk forecast highlighting Devon, Somerset and Cornwall at greatest risk of flooding on Tuesday.

Further heavy rain will affect southern parts of England and Wales during the early hours of Tuesday morning, which could bring another 20-30mm of rain to some places in the space of 12 hours.

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