The Predictability of the British Climate

The predictability of the English weather and that of the British Isles is in its unpredictability. I have read that residents of the British Isles are the only nation that consider the shipping weather forecast of serious and popular interest.

At sea I was amazed that anyone took the forecasts for the British Isles seriously. No disrespect to the forecasters, but they do have an impossible job.I pointed out to the Radio Operator that most of us listened to the forecast and then looked out of the window to decide what to wear.

Erratic weather is British. The one certainty is that there are four seasons that blend into each. This provides the opportunity for a large wardrobe and a huge range of plant life. Is it any wonder that England is known as a nation of gardens and gardeners?

As I write on July 4th south London has suffered a white-out from hailstones! The problem of the unpredictability of British weather is location,location, location and climate change. The British Isles are basically small offshore Islands. They are buffeted by Siberian weather traveling west, Arctic weather traveling south, Canadian weather traveling East and that dear old Mexican Gulf stream traveling across the Atlantic.

The Gulf stream is the one that keeps us warmer than Newfoundland despite a parallel Northern geography. Just think what happens when those four prevailing weather systems meet over and around the land mass of those Islands. The first Eastern traveling weather meets Ireland combined with a southern flow of Arctic weather and the north-eastern flow of the Gulf stream. It stops over the Ireland for a brief respite to combine and decide what is next.

Then it heads east across the Irish Sea, picking up moisture once more which is released over the mountains of Wales and the Pennines. By now the weather mass is even more confused because it has combined with south-western sweeping Siberian weather. Is it any wonder it all stops overhead? It has nowhere else to go.

The major benefit of this unpredictable weather, after essential huge wardrobes and gardens galore is conversation. Where would the people of the British Isles be without weather as a topic of conversation. They have more ways to describe rain than any other nation on earth. ‘A fine drop of rain’, ‘Raining cats and dogs’, ‘Sleet’, ‘Not fit to let a dog out in’, ‘Enough to please the farmers’ and Portia’s famous speech in the Merchant of Venice !It falleth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the earth beneath”. Even Shakespear was inspired by the weather.

Would the British have the character they have with predictable weather. I doubt it. Endless human eccentricities are tolerated as easily as the eccentric weather. On that topic I want to see more forests planted in Yorkshire to soak up the floods. I don’t want development to occur on the Thames Estuary or the Thames flood defenses will be over run. In short respect the weather and respect the need to respect the weather. It runs our lives.