Never mind the rain, forecasters say this was really a dry, sunny summer

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The Independent Online

Forget the pouring rain, the mini-tornadoes, the hailstones as big as golfballs and thunderstorms we all endured in August. According to the weather forecasters, Britain has just enjoyed one of the best summers of the past 100 years.

Forget the pouring rain, the mini-tornadoes, the hailstones as big as golfballs and thunderstorms we all endured in August. According to the weather forecasters, Britain has just enjoyed one of the best summers of the past 100 years.

Meteorologists claim that last month, the weather simply had a "bad press", and anyone who thinks otherwise is whingeing. According to PA WeatherCentre, last month was the driest and sunniest August for five years. And, they added, the past four weeks rank as the 24th best summer month for the past 100 years.

Sun-worshippers had 195 hours of tanning time to enjoy, which is 111 per cent of the sunshine normally expected during August.

"August 2000, like June and July, had an incomprehensibly bad press," said Philip Eden, a weather forecaster. "In nearly all regions it was warmer, drier and sunnier than average and during the past 100 years it would have ranked 24th.

"If it were possible to dig it up and transplant it to an earlier year, it would have been regarded as a stunner, for it was better than any August between 1959 and 1975."

The average temperature nationwide was 16.8C (62.2F), a degree higher than usual, making the past month the hottest August since 1997. The highest officially recorded temperature was at St Helier on the Channel Island of Jersey, which reached 31C (88F) on 25 August.

Yet just four days earlier,the lowest temperature of the month - 2C (36F) - was recorded at Shap in Cumbria.

For holidaymakers the best place to be was Heathrow airport, which had temperatures of 22C (72F) or more for 24 days in a row. But the dreariest was Belfast airport, which was officially the wettest place in the British Isles, recording 135mm or 5.32in of rainfall, nearly twice the normal amount.

England and Wales were, on average, drier than in most Augusts with just 79 per cent or 68mm (2.68in) of rainfall. Meanwhile Scotland had 97 per cent of its expected downpours, making 76mm or 3in of rain, while Northern Ireland clocked up 100mm (3.94in), which is 136 per cent of the normal average.

The south coast seaside resort of Eastbourne took the title of driest place in Britain when its rainfall totalled just a quarter of the monthly average for August, at 17mm (0.68in).

Scotland had 104 per cent of its expected sunshine while Northern Ireland scored 129 per cent. The sunniest spots in the country were Cromer in Norfolk and Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, which both had 40 per cent more sunshine than normal.

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