The real reason Britain has a bad weather reputation

Beach in summer with heavy grey clouds covering the whole sky

When people think of Britain, they think of somewhere where it rains all the time. Often they are surprised when they come to live here. Yes, there are times when there is a lot of rain, but also weeks where it is completely dry.

For example, central and eastern parts get an average of only 600-800mm rain a year. This is similar to Rome, Italy – not a place with a reputation for terrible weather. In south-east England, there is sometimes no rain for 1 or 2 months at a time. Combined with a very high population, it means drinking water is actually fairly scarce. Water shortages (hosepipe bans) and wildfires can happen, even at cooler times of the year.

On the western side of Britain, it is different. Here a reputation for rain is well deserved. On average, the west has at least 1,000mm of rain each year. Parts of western Scotland, north Wales and the Lake District can have over 3,000mm (3 metres!) of rain a year. Unfortunately, transferring water from one side of the country to the other is not easy.

However the real reason is for the bad reputation is not rain – it is because it is not very sunny. Completely white or pale grey skies are very normal here. While they don’t inspire joy like blue skies, the lack of shadows is great for photography.

The sunshine average across even the driest parts of Britain is only 4 hours a day. If that sounds bad, the dullest month ever recorded was November 2015 when there were only 34 hours of sunshine in the whole month. We have learned to find something good about the lack of sun – the amazing clouds. The Cloud Appreciation Society website is a group of people who love watching the changing patterns on our skies.

Rain rarely stops leisure activities in Britain. Even when it is wet, you will see people out walking and running or at open-air theatre/music performances. Most rain is very light and there is rarely any real danger (from lightning or cold, for example) – you just need to get a coat and try to enjoy life as much as possible.

Oh, and here’s a good tip: If you don’t like clouds and want as much sun as possible, the best places to live are Kent and Essex.

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