Friday 20 April 2018

Michael Hanlon: Will someone please tell us why it won’t stop raining even for a day?

Flooding last month in Blackpool, Cork City
Flooding last month in Blackpool, Cork City

AN old saying maintains that there is no such thing as bad weather, merely the wrong clothes. But the longer this damp, miserable, gloomy season continues, the harder it becomes to make excuses for the inglorious summer of 2012.

The year might have started with winter drought and talk of hosepipe bans in the UK, but at least that held out the promise of a suitably sunny season. Yet after a scorching March, things went downhill. April was damp and cold, and May followed suit (albeit with a warm and dry final week). June was a washout (both it and April were the wettest on record across the UK) and July has not been much better. In some areas, it has rained nearly every day for the past month. Is this just natural variation in the climate, or something more sinister?

The “cause” of the wet weather is the jet stream, a high-altitude river of air flowing from west to east that governs the passage of weather fronts, depressions, high pressure zones and prevailing winds. The existence of such streams was not confirmed until the 1940s, when pilots of America’s new high-altitude bomber, the B29, found themselves being blown across the Pacific by 150mph tailwinds after bombing sorties over Japan.

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