There’s no denying it. For the last two summers in this country we’ve been shortchanged by the weather and then some. We’ve stumbled into the meteorological kebab shop at quarter past three on a Friday night and handed over a twenty pound note for a chicken donner only to receive £2.50 in change. During July and August for both 2007 and 2008, as Southern Europe was getting Southern fried, in good old Blighty we were donning life jackets and learning how to swim (or not) as record floods swept the country.
This is not acceptable. The reason it’s such a slap in the face is that I’m a staunch defendant of the weather in this country and the constant cheap shots people take at it offend my blind patriotism. Not only that, but a lot of the time they’re talking utter rubbish. Is it really that much colder/wetter/windier here than ‘in my country’? Time for a quick stat attack.
“It always rains in England”
It does often rain in England (153 days a year on average). Compare this with Madrid (87), Rome (77) and Los Angeles (just 37 days). However, New York’s not too far behind us (125) and Paris is actually worse (164). Zurich is regularly voted the world’s best city, although it rains more there too (158 days). And in Bogota in Colombia it rains 177 days a year.
“When it rains it pours”
Our survey says no. The UK has a lower annual rainfall than Ibiza, Rome, LA, Canberra, Johannesburg and less than half as much as Buenos Aires.
“It’s always cold in this country”
In winter, temperatures tend to hover around five or six, although rarely dip below two degrees. Beijing, New York, Zurich and even Madrid experience regular sub-zero winter temperatures.
“There’s no summer here”
The last two years notwithstanding, May, June and July are usually fairly kind to us, with average temperatures around twenty degrees, peaking nearer thirty. 2006 was mainly bright and sunny and 2005 – the summer of The Ashes – was beautiful, prompting the UK Meteorological Office to declare a ‘sunfest’. The signs are good for 2009, with days in April hotter than Tenerife and Nice, and May often surpassing Ibiza and Rome.
“It’s really windy in England”
It does tend to get a little windy across the UK throughout the year and parts of the country are so flat you have to tie the grass down to stop it blowing away. Having said that, London’s average wind velocity in mps (metres per second) only strays into double figures in January, March and May (just above average). Spare a thought for the citizens of Bogota, where the mean wind speed is well over 15mps in all but 5 months of the year.
“It’s too cloudy”
Unfortunately, this one’s on the money. England has a high relative humidity and as many of you have probably noticed, lots of clouds. They’re not all grey though.
So next time you hear someone bashing the weather over here you can tell them: London is drier than Ibiza, hotter than Buenos Aires in the summer, warmer than Madrid in the winter and about half as windy as Bogota. But it can get very cloudy and does sometimes rain. Anyway, who wants blue skies and stifling heat all day every day? To quote Bill Hicks, “You guys have weather. Cool.”