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“Wettest Ever” Winter Update

February 21, 2014

By Paul Homewood


I have now had the chance to fully analyse the latest rainfall numbers put up by the Met Office. Let’s start by looking at the actual numbers up to 19th Feb, and an estimate of where we are likely to be by the end of February. (I do not like to do this sort of speculation, and would much rather wait till the actual numbers are confirmed, However, as the Met Office have set the ball rolling, I have little choice.)

The forecast for the rest of the month is nothing scientific! It just assumes average rainfall, which does not seem particularly out of line with Met forecast. Also, I would point out that the Met Office have not issued any figures for the England & Wales series for February so far – consequently my guesstimate is less certain.

UK England England & Wales
December 184.7 116.7 133.2
January 183.8 158.2 184.6
Feb 1st – 19th 118.3 95.5
Feb 20th – 28th Estimate 30.0 20.0 120.0 (Full month)
TOTAL 516.8 390.4 437.8

United Kingdom

Taking the UK as a whole, how do the above numbers compare with other 3-month periods? Since 1910, we find periods in the winters of 1929/30 and 2001/01 which were wetter than my estimate.

Oct – Dec 1929 553
Nov 1929– Jan 1930 554
Oct – Dec 2000 520

Note that the wet period of the winter of 1929/30 extended over four months, and not three as is the case this year.


In England, we find a similar pattern, but also with the introduction into the mix of 1914/15

Dec 1914 – Feb 1915 392
Oct  – Dec 1929 452
Nov 1929 – Jan 1930 455
Oct  – Dec 2000 442

England & Wales Series

Again, I must make the proviso here that no figures for this month have been published by the Met Office, so there is a degree of uncertainty. Nevertheless:

Oct – Dec 1852 450
Nov 1876 – Jan 1877 449
Oct – Dec 1929 499
Nov 1929 – Jan 1930 500
Oct – Dec 2000 512
Oct – Dec 2002 467


Based on the Met Office’s provisional numbers, it is true that, for the UK as a whole, this has been the wettest Dec – Feb period on record since 1910. For England, the outcome looks to be close to 1914/15.

However, the Met Office’s claims only tell half the story. Unless there is a Noah like deluge in the next week, the 3-month periods of Oct – Dec, and Nov – Jan, during the winter of 1929/30 will remain as by far the wettest on record.

It is also possible that, on the England & Wales Series, this last three months may be no wetter than periods in the winters of 1852/3 and 1876/7.

  1. Caddy permalink
    February 21, 2014 4:34 pm

    Er…so what?

  2. February 21, 2014 4:43 pm

    Reblogged this on CraigM350.

  3. February 21, 2014 5:22 pm

    Paul, can you help me out please with the UK rain figures for monthly July 2013 to date (I assume Jan). The Met Office as normal for them is withholding and playing games.

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    February 21, 2014 5:53 pm

    Paul, what values do you get when you do a Direct Comparison, ie Jan to Feb in prior Years?
    The Met Office obviously chose that period to fit their narrative.

    I must admit I couldn’t even find the damned Annual Rainfall stats at their site.

  5. John F. Hultquist permalink
    February 21, 2014 5:55 pm

    It appears that high rainfall for the reporting units occurs about once every 30 years or so. That seems like no big deal. When roads, bridges, or other structures are planned, what is the intended life span? Shouldn’t the concept be that knowing what the average “high xyz” is, the design ought to be able to handle that plus at least 50% (or some such number) more. Otherwise, just paint a lot of signs that say “Danger! Go Back.”

  6. February 21, 2014 11:05 pm

    The problem with any data set you look at, is that it only looks at one type of data set and not an holistic set of facts, monthly rainfall, and not daily or even the intensity of a given period which effects the ability for the land to retain water like a sponge and the rivers to transport water out to sea.

    While you’ve been presenting the rainfall in times when it’s been historically wetter than the recent periods when we’ve had these floods in the UK, would it not be wise to suggest that climate change does have an effect, just because one gov body might not be measuring other criteria like the things I’ve touched on, like the intensity of rain rather than just how many mm fell in a month.

    Perhaps there should be other data available in order to look at the weather as a whole, or does have to catch up with climate change.

  7. February 21, 2014 11:10 pm

    The initial results of my analysis of the UK data partially agrees with you but I am looking at it in a novel way. My interest is more in absolutely unusual than absolute amount of water. Doubt that is clear.

    The first step reason for the prolonged deluge is I think explained in a blog post on my own site: the stuck weather pattern over North America and the North Atlantic at a time when the central rain machine is still hot. We get the result here as a train instead of the more usual a few of them.

    Why the stuck northern rotation is another matter. Pass.

    Probably worth a blog post, not decided when or which blog.

    (the data you pointed at was what I was trying to find)

  8. February 22, 2014 1:10 pm

    Reblogged this on Earth Changing Extremities.

  9. Brian H permalink
    February 22, 2014 9:33 pm

    Paul, you need a new handle. “Digger” comes to mind. 😉


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