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Comparisons With 1940 & 1965

January 10, 2016

By Paul Homewood  


Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank certainly brought an awful lot of rain to some parts of the country last month. But what is just as remarkable is how small an area was affected by them, something borne out by the daily data from the England & Wales Precipitation Series.

As this data is only available from 1931, we cannot make comparisons with some of the wettest months on record, such as Dec 1876, Dec 1914 or Nov 1852. But we can compare with Nov 1940, the 3rd wettest November, and Dec 1965, 8th wettest. Both months recorded much more rainfall than last month. 




Nov 1940





We can see that there were five days with more rainfall in 1940 than the wettest day last month, and four were considerably wetter.

The big difference was that the rainfall in 1940 was distributed across most, if not all, of the country, as the Met Office Monthly Report indicates:




In contrast, because of the way the jet stream was set up, depression after depression targeted in on the same part of the country, the North West, for the whole of the month. To make matters worse, Storms like Desmond tended to get stuck over the same area, instead of quickly passing through.

Because this area is mainly upland/mountainous, the rainfall figures recorded were naturally higher than would have been the case elsewhere in the country.


One other difference worth noting is that there was very little rainfall in the last 10 days of Nov 1940, whereas it was fairly continuous all last month.



Dec 1945





Again, in 1965, we find heavier days of rainfall than last month.

As with 1940, we find that the rainfall in 1965 was widely spread across the country.










It has been claimed that a warmer atmosphere, means more moisture and therefore more rain. But the evidence from 1940 and 1965 does not support this theory.

Much more rain fell, albeit over a wider area, in those years, both in the month as a whole, and on the wettest days.

  1. Janeane Wilbur permalink
    January 10, 2016 4:58 pm

    I don’t even know how I got this in my email and why I even read it I have so much junk mail. Yet I do.
    I was born at the end of November in 1965.
    All my life I loved as much rain as God’s earth can handle.
    The more the better. Bring it on.
    Finally moved to Oregon, to get all the rain and all the trees that go with it!

  2. January 10, 2016 9:35 pm

    The North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures were similar to those of today from 1935-1965:

    so that may be behind the total rainfall rates then and now, it may just be bad luck to get most of the total in one place.

  3. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 10, 2016 9:50 pm

    An interesting post. Thanks. These historical looks are very useful.

    It has been claimed that a warmer atmosphere, means more moisture and therefore more rain.

    This is a claim I have never understood. The transition from vapor to liquid is a mostly temperature dependent process. Thus, if the average atmospheric temperature (Global + warming) is greater there ought to be more H2O vapor floating as part of the atmosphere. It does not follow that there should be more rain.
    There are changes as weather systems (think ENSO) progress but the data seem not to support this hypothesis. That there really hasn’t been a strong warming trend makes this issue untestable, or so I think.

    • January 11, 2016 10:54 am

      You have to watch the pea as the argument goes from warmer air holding more water vapour, to more precipitation, i.e. less holding of water vapour.

      The WATER temperature is the fundamental driver of evaporation, and humidity the driver of precipitation. No humidity gives no rain, some humidity gives some rain, more humidity must give more rain, but how much more, and where will it fall?

  4. January 11, 2016 11:19 am

    Piers Corbyn expects these ‘stuck jet stream’ events to repeat.

    ‘These persistent ‘Long Jet Stream stuck’ situations are a feature of the of the new weather era (Wild-Jet-Stream / Mini-Ice-Age) the world is in, and where they locate to within a hundred miles is of crucial importance.’

    Also: ‘These natural weather and climate changes are of course nothing whatsoever to do with the failed delusional CO2 hypothesis which can predict nothing because CO2 has no influence on what the sun does.’

  5. January 11, 2016 7:17 pm

    Interesting post! More than that, I admit that I read it especially since I have an issue with what happened with the weather during the two World Wars and how human activities on the seas and oceans (including naval activities) interfered with the climate. And, since you mentioned one of the years that are part of this change, meaning 1940, I would like to come with a different perspective on the resultant rain due to war, which you can read here: You could also read many articles, on that site, about the way that war affected the weather in many other countries, from all around the world.

    • YIPPIY permalink
      January 12, 2016 7:43 am

      Interesting comment, smamarver. I remember my mother telling us kids in the mid 1940’s that rumour had it that WW1 was much wetter because the Germans were using those Big Bertha guns…..

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