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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Where has the UK's summer gone?
By Sarah Bell
BBC News

Our national obsession - the weather - has taken a strong grip this year, with cries of "Where's the summer gone?" resonating around the land.

A beach in Bournemouth
The outlook for July is 'unsettled'
With large parts of the UK under water, festivals memorable for mud and even the well-heeled Henley Royal Regatta allowing wellies, some are feeling a wistful longing for hosepipe bans and sunburn.

But at present, balmy days remain a distant dream.

Forecasters say the unsettled weather, which caused the wettest June since records began, is set to continue.


The outlook for July is also unsettled with more rain at times, the BBC Weather Centre says. Others predict the wet weather will continue into September and beyond.

Don't write off the summer just yet, there is still the chance we could get some decent days
John Hammond
Met Office

"July is going to be lousy and the rest of it, August and September, will not be worth waiting for," said Piers Corbyn, director of Weather Action.

His company provides long-range weather forecasts for energy companies and farmers.

One thing can be said about June, it was wet. Most of England and Wales saw two to three times their usual amount of rain.

Bar chart showing UK monthly rainfall since 2004

It was the wettest June since records began in 1914 and the coldest since 2002. England has also seen the dullest weather since 1998.

But we started the year on such a bright note. Remember those warm April days? They were the hottest on record.

UK's wettest ever
Record June rainfall in England and N Ireland
More than double June average in both
Wettest in Wales since 1998
Source: Met Office

This, and the fact the past two summers were glorious, adds to the feeling this summer is a dud - 2006 saw the hottest July since records began.

In fact, this year's temperatures have been above average. But so has the amount of rain.

John Hammond, from the Met Office, said: "People anticipate that because we've had warm weather it's going to be dry as well, but that's not always the case."

But we should remain positive and not pack away the barbecues and bikinis just yet, he said.

"We have had one month of the summer, we have still got the rest of July and August to go. Don't write off the summer just yet, there is still the chance we could get some decent days."

Weather systems

The UK's weather has partly been attributed to the La Nina system, which leads to cooling of the waters along the equator in the eastern Pacific.

This then drives the jet stream - which brings warmer, more settled weather to the the UK - further south, trapping Britain in an area of low pressure above it.

Matt Taylor, from the BBC Weather Centre, explained: "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."

If misery loves company, perhaps some comfort can be drawn from the fact the UK is not the only part of Europe experiencing wet weather.

Many parts of northern Europe, including the Netherlands and Denmark, are also feeling pretty damp.

This is in stark contrast to the heatwave in south-east Europe, which saw the mercury hitting 46C (115F) in some parts of Greece - too hot even for those longing to see some sun.

Map: Jetstream 2006
In a 'normal' summer, the Atlantic jetstream directs areas of low pressure, which bring cloud and rain, to the north of the UK. High pressure systems over Europe and the Atlantic bring warm, settled conditions.
Pressure chart: 29/6/06. Source: Met Office

Map: Jetstream, 2007
This summer, the jetstream is flowing further south allowing low pressure systems to sweep straight over the centre of the country. High pressure systems over Europe and the Atlantic have been weak.
Pressure chart: 4/07/07. Source: Met Office


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