European 'monsoon season' theories dismissed despite June following April as one of the wettest months on record
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Wednesday 27 June 2012
June is set to follow April as one of the wettest months on record in the UK, new Met Office figures show, confirming that the spring and early summer period of 2012 has been one of the most miserable ever.
Figures up to June 24 – last Sunday – show that the country as a whole had received 122.3mm of rain, making this month currently the third wettest June in the national rainfall record, which goes back to 1910. The June average is 72.6mm.
This month is currently behind the wettest-ever June, of 2007, when 136.2mm fell in an unprecedented period of downpours, and is unlikely to overtake it, but it may well overtake the second wettest June, of 1912, when 124.5mm of rain fell.
Add the second wettest June to this year’s wettest-ever April – the wettest in the century since records began – and the last three months have largely been continuous misery, relieved only by the warm and sunny period towards the end of May, culminating in the heatwave weekend of May 26-27.
Unfortunately, that was the weekend before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; on the Jubilee weekend itself the heavens opened and the royal family were soaked in their river procession.
There has been some suggestion that the Jubilee downpour and the rain since is part of a phenomenon known as the “European monsoon” – when westerly winds return strongly from the Atlantic in June, after a weakening in the late spring.
The Met Office says this is an ill-defined phenomenon, and does not really apply at the moment. “This spring saw the wettest April for 100 years and a May that was pretty unsettled too,” said a Met Office spokesman. “Therefore it is quite difficult to say that the ‘westerly winds are returning’ this year as they never really left us to start with
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