Soggy summer set to enter the record books

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The Independent Online

You probably thought so, and now it's official – the summer which finishes today has been the wettest since British records began, the Met Office has said.

Provisional rainfall figures up to Tuesday show that the UK as a whole had 358.5mm of rain, just beating the previous record of 358.4mm set in 1956.

Since it is such a narrow margin between the figures, and further rainfall data has to be gathered, summer 2007 – defined as June, July and August – might yet end up being the second wettest since the UK rainfall series began in 1914. But the previous second-wettest summer, 1985, when 342.7mm of rain fell, has already been surpassed by a considerable margin.

"These figures confirm what most people have already been thinking – this summer has been very disappointing for most," said Keith Groves, the Met Office's head of forecasting.

Some remarkable statistics are already beyond doubt. England, which suffered the two "extreme rainfall events" of 24 June and 20 July which produced the country's worst-ever flooding, has had substantially its wettest-ever summer. The total of 324.2mm of rain easily beats the 308.2mm which fell in 1956.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still below previous records, set in 1985, 1927 and 1958 respectively.

As reported in The Independent earlier this week, the soggiest summer climaxes a quite remarkable run of broken weather records for Britain over the past 14 months. This includes Britain's hottest month (July 2006), the hottest April (2007), the wettest June (2007), the hottest spring (2007), the hottest autumn (2006), the second-hottest winter (December, January and February 2006-7) – and the hottest 12-month period (end April 2006 – end April 2007).

This run strongly suggests that Britain's weather patterns are changing in a manner consistent with predictions of climate change, which forecast that both air temperatures and rainfall will intensify as global warming takes hold. But, although scientists earlier this month announced that a link had been made for the first time between changes in rainfall patterns in recent decades and climate change, so single events (such as the summer just gone) cannot be ascribed to climate change individually, as the natural variability of the climate system is too great.

Although very wet, the summer just gone has been quite warm, with average temperatures of 14.1C.