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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Dry spell is 'worst in 30 years'
Person holding an umbrella to shield themselves from the elements, during a heavy snowfall in London
The Met Office was quick to rule out climate change as a possible cause
England and Wales have had their driest November to March period in 30 years, Met Office figures reveal.

The dry spell spanned two complete seasons across most of the UK with five consecutive months of below-average rainfall, a spokesman said.

Parts of central and south England had just 60% of their average rainfall.

But downpours in west and north Scotland saw them record 108% and 120% respectively. And April 2005 was wetter than average for the UK as a whole.

The Met Office was quick to rule out climate change as a possible cause of the unreliable weather.

"It is just the variability of the weather," spokesman Wayne Elliott said.

East Anglia 8.4in (214.6mm)
South-east and south-central England 10.2in (259.5mm)
The Midlands 11.3in (289.4mm)
East and north-east England 12.5in (319mm)
England 12.8in (324.4mm)
England and Wales 14.4in (364.7mm)
South-west England and Wales 18.8in (476.4mm)
East Scotland 22.2in (566.2mm)
North-west England and north Wales 24.2in (617.6mm)
West Scotland 37.2in (945.3mm)
Scotland 41.6in (1,057mm)

"Bearing in mind the effect of climate change, we should have had a wetter winter but it was not doing that, so we cannot blame climate change."

But water suppliers are warning a hot summer could lead to widespread shortages in densely populated areas.

Low supplies have already led to a hosepipe ban in parts of Sussex.

Sutton and East Surrey Water have also banned the use of garden sprinklers and unattended hosepipes, and other companies are considering measures.

A Southern Water spokeswoman said the Weir Wood reservoir in East Grinstead, West Sussex, had been reduced to nearly half its normal level.

England's 12.8in (324.4mm) of rain made it the country's driest November to March period since the one beginning in 1975, which saw 10.3in (260.5mm), and the 10th driest since 1914.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight had just 58% of their average rainfall.

East Anglia and the Midlands had 8.4in (214.6mm) and 11.3in (289.4mm) - 73% of their average.

With 18.8in (476.4mm) of rain, it was also the driest November to March in 30 years in south-west England and Wales.

South-east and south-central England had just 10.2in (259.5mm), its driest November to March period since the one beginning in 1975, which had 7.4in (187.3mm), and the fourth driest since 1914.

Wet Scotland

East and north-east England had 12.5in (319mm), and north-west England and north Wales 24.2in (617.6mm).

England and Wales together had 14.4in (364.7mm) of rain, the driest November to March period since the one beginning in 1996, when 14.2in (361.4mm) fell.

But 41.6in (1,057mm) made it north Scotland's fifth wettest period since 1914.

While west Scotland had 37.2in (945.3mm), and east Scotland 22.2in (566.2mm) - 99% of its average.

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