October 3rd, 2018
Rain, rain and more rain. After a glorious summer full of sunshine and heat waves, it’s inevitable really that the autumn and winter months here in Wales bring a little more than their fair share of the wet stuff. Wales is synonymous with rainy weather, and it’s not difficult to see why. It does seem to rain here a lot of the time! For example, the summer of 2012 was the wettest for 100 years and the autumn and winter didn’t fare much better either, with floods, gales and downpours casting heavy grey shadows across the country.
Britain is renowned for its wet and rainy climate; the weather is often the butt of jokes and gags and the British are stereotyped in their fondness for talking about the unpredictable weather of their island. But, when the heavens open and the rain starts to pour, the nation famously carries on regardless. The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in 2012 continued with cheery faces despite a chilly downpour, and it was only four years ago in 2009 that a roof was built over the country’s most famous tennis court so that rain no longer stops play for cheerful singing interludes.
Apparently, our wet weather is mostly due to the fact that our prevailing wind is south-westerly and with the Atlantic to the west these winds pick up plenty of moisture. This brings areas of low pressure and plenty of cloud and rain towards the UK.
And not far from us here in the Oakeley Arms, in the foothills of Snowdonia is Capel Curig, which is officially recorded as being the wettest place in Britain. Its yearly average rainfall well exceeds the national average, largely thanks to its position high up among the mountains on Snowdonia. With most of our weather coming from the west, Wales tends to see a lot of the wettest conditions. Hills and mountains will accentuate rainfall too because they help to push air upwards, which cools and condenses it faster giving more intense rainfall. And Capel Curig is ideal for these conditions.
The wettest month in Capel Curig is December, where the average rainfall is 309mm; a colossal amount compared to the UK average of 120mm for the same month.
Much of Britain’s weather forecasts and records come from the Met Office, the country’s national weather service. Initially set up in the mid nineteenth century as an aid to mariners and sea captains, the services offered by the Met Office were greatly expanded after the tragic sinking of the Royal Charter yacht and the loss of over 450 lives off the coast of Anglesey in 1859 during a great storm.
By 1861, fifteen weather stations were dotted along the coast, providing storm and gale warnings for ships at sea. By the twentieth century and during WWI and WWII, the Met Office worked closely with the Ministry of Defence, giving essential meteorological information to the troops at sea, on land and in the air.
The Met Office now produces weather forecasts for a huge range of channels; the most well known is perhaps the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4. The Met Office is also responsible for issuing weather and flood warnings when extreme weather conditions are on the way.
The Met Office gathers its data from a huge range of weather stations, satellites, aircraft and weather balloons around the world. In a day, over half a million observations on weather and atmospheric conditions are received and processed by the Met Office. There are weather stations dotted across the country, each sending vital statistics on wind, rain and temperature back to the central office for experts to collate into the information that is then used to create and predict our Great British weather.