Tuesday, July 6

From one extreme to another

Watching Wimbledon on a large outdoor screen

The Met Office announced today that the first six month of 2010 have been the nation's driest for more than 80 years, and the second driest for at least a century. Not since 1929 has Britain seen less rainfall during the same period. The relatively rain-free weather has resulted in some very unseasonal events. For example, last weekend Wimbledon, for the first time in 15 years, completed its tournament without rain ever interupting play. However, the events of June 1976 weren't repeated. That was the year Centre Court temperatures rose so high the balls at Wimbledon swelled to bursting.

June has been a particularly dry month. According to the Met Office, it was the third sunniest since 1929 with maximum daytime temperatures above normal by about 2.5 °C. Asda, the national discount supermarket, says its already sold 165,000 bikinis this season, up 47% on this time last year. Conversely, rainfall was well below average with the Southeast of England reported rainfall 50% lower than average. The dry weather meant that Glastonbury, an annual Summer music festival in Devon, ended last week without its usual sea of knee-deep mud.

As for the week ahead, we're in for another week of sunshine, with temperatures rising to a daytime peak of 27 °C on Friday. The Met Office says the same high pressure responsible for last winter's long, bitter cold spell is still blocking the westerly winds that traditionally bring wet weather to Britain. It seems that last winter's depressing weather has an unexpected silver lining. Who would have thought?

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