Is It Raining More? (Expert Study)
The weather is an ingrained part of British culture. If it rains, we love nothing more than protesting for sunnier days. If the temperature edges above 20c, we grumble about just how inconsiderately hot the sun is. And if it snows… we close schools, roads and everyone loses their minds.
One topic that always gets us talking (whingeing) is rain. Whether it's the depths of winter or the middle of summer, a day or two of drizzle will have Brits swearing “it never rained this much when I was younger”.
As we endured the recent May washout, this small piece of nostalgia had us thinking, does it really rain more today than it did in the past? Or are we just looking back at our youth through rose-tinted glasses?
With this in mind, the data experts here at Anchor Pumps wanted to settle the argument once and for all - is it really raining more today than ever before?
Turning to the UK’s two meteorological offices, we analysed daily rainfall data dating back to 1900.
Find our results below - and yes, it really is raining more!
Our analysis showed that the average amount of rainfall has increased by 28% since the 1900s. The peak amount of rainfall was in the 2000s, where more than 1025mm fell on British soil.
Compare that to the 1900s, where only 739mm fell from British skies, you can conclusively say that it is raining more today than any other time in modern history. The data also shows a linear increase across the century with small peaks and troughs across each decade.
So, we know the total average annual rainfall is increasing, but how does that translate into rainy days? Is it just a case of heavier downpours inflating the figures or are we experiencing more days where it's often better to crawl up on the sofa with a movie instead of trying to brave the constant deluge?
Well, we analysed data from the Royal Meteorological Society, which conclusively shows a growing trend in the average number of rainy days, with an overall 7% increase since the 1960s.
The highest number of rainy days was recorded in 2020, with an average of 165 rainy days. Compare this to the period between 1961 and 1990, where the UK only experienced an average of 154 rainy days per year, you can, again, conclusively say that it is raining more in the UK.
Rain is only one part of the nation’s nostalgia. Ask any Brit, they are guaranteed to tell you that it was sunnier when they were a child. Fortunately, along with rain data, we were also able to analyse the number of sunshine hours in the UK. Sunshine hours are defined as the period of time where sunlight can shine unobstructed by clouds. This analysis does not include overcast days.
So, what does the data show? Well, the climate seems to be a tad capricious. The highest number of sunshine hours was documented in the 2010s, where 1518.22 hours of unobstructed sunlight were recorded. At the other end of the scale, the lowest number of sunshine hours was documented in the 1970s. During this decade, only 1365.25 sunshine hours were recorded on average each year.
The data does fail to provide an upward linear trend in sunshine hours. While we have experienced more sunshine since the turn of the century, the 1930s recorded the third-highest number of sunshine hours with 1481.01 hours of unobstructed sunlight.
Along with the sunshine, ask any Brit about their childhood summers and they are guaranteed to tell you that they remember them being warm 30c days throughout June, July and August. With the MET office’s data, we decided to put this last piece of nostalgia to our team for examination - is it really getting colder?
Our analysis revealed that Britain has actually never been warmer. Since the turn of the century, Britain has documented record average temperatures, with a 1.1c average increase since the 1900s. The lowest average temperature was recorded in the 1920s with a bitterly cold 8.32c, while the highest average temperature was recorded in the 2000s with a balmy 10.10c.
- Average annual rainfall has increased by 28% since the 1900s
- Average number of rainy days has increased by 7% since the 1960s
- Average temperature has increased by 1.1c since the 1900s
This analysis was conducted by using data from the MET Office and the Royal Meteorological Society. To see the raw data, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To reference this data, please link back to this page and credit ‘Anchor Pumps’.