23 Apr 2012

Wet, wet, wet.

The weekend saw a mix of sunshine and showers continue across the UK, with some places seeing more downpours than others. April is turning out to be a pretty wet month and there’s plenty more to come this week as well.

Waddington in Lincolnshire was the wettest place on Saturday with 36.8mm of rain. This is pretty impressive given the average rainfall for the whole of April here is in the range of 45-50mm.

On Sunday the wettest place was in Northern Ireland, with Altnahinch, County Antrim having 19.6mm from the showers that moved through.

The reason for this persistent pattern of unsettled weather is the position of the jet stream. As I explained in my blog last week, it’s taking a more southerly track at the moment. This means that the UK lies in the path of a conveyor belt of low pressure systems that are developing across the Atlantic Ocean.

Whilst there will be some element of uncertainty in the exact timing and position of the rain this week, the overall trend is clear – wet and windy.

England and Wales look set to receive around 30-60mm of welcome rain during the next seven days, with the greatest amount likely from the Midlands southwards.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will see some rain, but there won’t be quite as much with 15-30mm more likely, with the heaviest falls across the hills and mountains of eastern Scotland.

Another feature of this week’s weather will be the strength of the wind – especially for coastal areas, where it could gust as much as 50-60mph at times. Inland areas will be pretty gusty too, especially as low pressure systems pivot and weather fronts move through.

I’ve had so many tweets on Twitter asking if this rainfall will be enough to bring the drought to an end. Unfortunately, it won’t be. It will take a lot more than one wet month to counterbalance two consecutive dry winters in a row.

The added problem during spring and summer is that because the days are longer and the sun higher in the sky, evaporation rates are higher, so not all of the water remains in the soil – especially near the surface.

Another factor is that it’s a time of year when plants are growing, so any water that does make it into the soil is quickly taken up by their roots. This means that not much water manages to percolate deep down to groundwater level where water is badly needed to recharge aquifers.

So whilst some of you may be a little frustrated that the wet weather is still with us, the rainfall is still needed for the large swathe of the UK currently in drought.

Don’t forget you can get the latest three-hourly forecast for the next five days on the Channel 4 Weather website and you can contact me on Twitter – @liamdutton

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