Rest of the summer? Answers on a postcard

“It’s raining again.” You may have uttered those words quite a bit in recent days – the ’30-degree’ glow of early summer fading in the memory. While parts of southern Europe are suffering from serious drought, back home we appear to be getting far too much of a good thing – rain.

Of course – the arrival of the summer holidays has probably done the trick. What cruel irony that as we break up, the weather breaks down. Or so it seems.

You can blame the weatherman, but as a forecaster myself, I can vouch that there really is no conspiracy. If only we had the power to control it. Just predicting the weather is hard enough.

And summer is not the best of times for weather prediction either, particularly for the longer range – let’s say beyond a week ahead. At other times of year, meteorologists are aware of key ‘drivers’ in the atmosphere than can influence the behaviour of the jet stream – the high level wind that so strongly determines the character of our weather. As a result, longer range forecasts, particularly in winter, can sometimes quite reliably flag up changes in the weather, weeks in advance.

… spare a thought for the forecasters – it ain’t easy

But in summer, the atmosphere becomes rather more ‘disconnected’. There are fewer tell-tales from afar for forecasters to ‘get hold of’, as the jet stream wobbles around the globe  in a much more nebulous, unpredictable way. For this reason, changes in the weather can ‘sneak up’ on us without  much warning.

The heatwave conditions that sent temperatures into the June record books in some southern parts of the UK were not really on the horizon until a few days before. Then again in early July, the temperature soared at relatively short notice. Many computer models had hinted that further heat was on the way as the summer holidays approached.

Quite the opposite – it’s got cooler and wetter.

The next 10 days or so look decidedly showery, to say the least. Indeed rain and blustery winds will hamper many a sports event, beach party, country show and music festival along the way. There are now hints of an improvement on the horizon further into August. Right now though, as you plan yet another indoor distraction for the children, that might seem a long way off. Jam (or should I say, ice cream) tomorrow?

Well, as we’ve already seen this summer, the weather has a mind of its own. Keep the shades and suncream handy – they might be needed sooner than we think. Oh, and spare a thought for the forecasters – it ain’t easy.