Believe it or not, this isn't our worst ever summer

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So, is this the worst summer ever? Despite the regular soakings and the smug assurances of those who've booked holidays in warmer climes (Lapland, say), this is not a record-setter – yet. There have been three summers even more miserable, wetter, colder and duller.

The wettest

The average amount of rain to fall in a British summer (the months, you may recall, of June, July and August) is 226.7mm, according to the Met Office. But in 1956, no less than 358.4mm of rain fell during that period. Newsreel pictures showed windswept, deserted beaches, and how boarding house guests at resorts, sheltering from the elements in the local cinema, must have enjoyed them. And no people were more disgusted than the residents of Tunbridge Wells, where snowploughs had to be called out to clear huge drifts of hailstones after thousands of tons of ice fell in a freak storm.



The dullest

Although there is no such thing in our climate as "an average summer", the sunshine we experience in June, July and August averages out at 506 hours. But in 1954 the sun appeared for a mere 376.8 hours.

The coldest

Across the three normally warmest months, the average temperature is around 16.3 degrees Celsius. But in 1922, the average for the summer was just 12.3 degrees Celsius. That is fully 2.6 degrees colder than September 2006 and only a fraction warmer than October 2001.

The worst downfall

Finally, lest we imagine that Friday's downpours set new standards of torrentiality, in July 1955, Martinstown, near Dorchester, Dorset, had 279mm of rain in 24 hours – nearly twice Friday's worst of 145mm, in Worcestershire.

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