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Record February Rainfall? Pretty Meaningless Actually.

March 2, 2020

By Paul Homewood



As usual, you don’t get the whole story from the BBC/Met Office:



Rainfall data from the Met Office has shown that last month was the wettest February since records began.

An average of 202.1mm rainfall fell, surpassing records for February 1990, when 193.4mm fell.


Their subliminal message is clear – record rainfall = record floods. However what they don’t tell you is that February tends to be a drier month, Although rainfall last month was extremely high, it was far from being unprecedented when all months are considered.

But first, back one step!


As the map shows, virtually all of the country had at least double the average rainfall, other than the eastern tips, which would inevitably be relatively dry when the UK has been targeted all month with Atlantic storms:

To look at the impact on floods in England and Wales, we obviously need to ignore rainfall in Scotland and N Ireland.

And when we do that we see that the amount of rainfall last month was not unusual, when all months of the year are considered, either in England or Wales:




In England, February 2020 was only the 24th wettest months since 1862, Wetter months have occurred roughly every seven years on average.

In Wales, it was the 14th wettest.

The wettest month in England was all the way back in 1903, whilst in Wales it was during that notorious winter of 1929. Clearly a “record February” has nothing to do with “global warming”.

It is true that February is a shorter month, but this has been mitigated by the fact that it is a leap year this year. But for that, Storm Jorge would have fallen on 1st March, probably reducing the February rainfall by 10mm or more.

As I noted, February tends to be a dry month, but meteorologically there is no reason why it should not be very wet some years.

In both England and Wales, the previous record for February rainfall was set in 1923, and neither show much in the way of long term trends for the month. This year, just as in 1923, meteorological conditions set up heavy rainfall throughout the month – translation- jet stream:



In simple terms, when you get a dominating influence of low pressure from the Atlantic in winter, you are going to get lots and lots of rain. And it does not matter whether this happens in February or any other month. You do not need a global warming theory to work that one out (unless your grant money depends on it).






I will be doing a full analysis of the February floods in due course, once the Met Office have published their daily data. But from what we have seen so far, the Environment Agency does not have a leg to stand on, when it blames “unprecedented floods” on climate change.

  1. john cooknell permalink
    March 2, 2020 10:18 pm

    Overall rainfall amounts for the full year from Feb 19 is just above average, waiting for the updated report.

    Click to access Rainfall_and_river_flow_summary_19_to_25_February_2020.pdf

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 2, 2020 11:04 pm

    For the whole country, for any record claim to be meaningful they would have to be using only stations that have consistently supplied reliable rainfall data between 1862-2020 and not had any issues with inadequate volume/automation of the rain gauges in the older part of the record. As soon as the station composition changes, and especially if they have been adding in upland areas in the latter period, it’s meaningless. I would love to see all their raw data, meta data, and number crunching method, subjected to expert third party scrutiny.

  3. Pancho Plail permalink
    March 2, 2020 11:27 pm

    Some years ago, when warned that droughts would be a regular occurrence as England moved towards a Mediterranean climate, I dug up my lawn and reconstituted it with moisture retaining compost worked into the topsoil. A couple of days ago I spent an afternoon clearing a record crop of moss from my sodden back garden.
    I have also consulted my records for our bit of N Cheshire. 2019 was nearly twice as wet as 2018 (1180mm v 630mm). Feb 2019 was 34mm, Feb 2020 was 158mm.
    Weather is a funny old thing, but the one thing I have learnt over over 70 years is that it changes often but climate drifts on pretty much the same.

  4. March 3, 2020 6:39 am

    Although we had many rainy days in February, it was noticeable here in Devon that the rain was well spread out over the month, with very few heavy downpours. The ground was rarely saturated, my river never rose very high and there was no flooding.

  5. George Herraghty permalink
    March 3, 2020 7:53 am

    Hello Paul,

    Do you have a direct email or Postal address so I can send you important information. For example the attachment above.

    Keep up the good work,



  6. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 3, 2020 8:11 am

    So in say 170 Februaries we are supposed to have had all possible “non-Climate Change” rain patterns?

    Where’s the evidence for that? There must thousands of natural patterns of February rainfall for the UK some with much higher rainfall than this February. For this to be Climate Change you have to prove that no natural variation could be this wet.

    And this record is by just 9mm and that just beats what happened thirty years ago. So for twenty nine years of Clinate Chage this didn’t happen, we had lower rainfall than the record. But now one year beats the record and its Climate Change?

    This is all illogical nonsense.

    • dave permalink
      March 3, 2020 9:09 am

      When “climatology” was firmly a part of “meteorology,” a hundred years ago, the weather-men had a clear conception of what “climate of a place” signified – and it WASN’T the meaningless term “average weather.”

      “Climate” was a characterization, for each location, of the TYPES of weather and their causative processes, that might be expected as the year developed. “Averages” merely fleshed out the characterizations.

      To say that the “climate in Central England in late winter [better than the merely conventional period, February]” had changed you would need either

      a SUCCESSION of “record or near-record wets or drys or winds or…”

      OR a sort of weather that was never seen before.

      In other words – if we are concentrating on rain – 2021 must have a wet late-winter, and 2022 must have a wet late-winter and…


      Late winter must surprise us – with a tropical hurricane, or with a dose of the typical weather of Montreal, or…

  7. March 3, 2020 9:11 am

    Remember to celebrate world obesity day tomorrow. it’s a problem in every country in the world effecting a third of the world’s population and increasing.

    Only 12 years left to save the planet and in the meantime we are all getting fatter – some climate change.

    Weird that. In the past climate change killed civilisations from lack of food.

  8. Ian Miller permalink
    March 3, 2020 9:21 am

    I seem to remember that when I was in Junior School frequent references to “February Fill-dyke” which suggests to me that the month was historically a wet one.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      March 3, 2020 9:49 am


      February fills dykes, overflows fields
      and streams, turns paths to slippery ooze.
      Petulant winds crease the surface of the lake
      and agitate the fast flowing river.
      Hail and sunshine play follow-my-leader
      across a shifting sky where lazy seagulls swing.

      Gorse brags bright yellow flowers.
      On hawthorn hedgerows, buds swell with red tips
      and tight clusters of dark green leaves.
      Daffodils force green shoots through layers of leaf mould.
      Moss creeps and bark rots on fallen trees.
      New stems and shoots glow red in the setting sun.

    • dave permalink
      March 3, 2020 10:04 am

      As a very approximate notion, in England it only takes half as much rain to cause a flood in late winter as in late summer because the soil is usually much wetter.

    • March 3, 2020 11:15 am

      The media (BBC etc) do not do history and so probably never heard “February fill dyke” or wouldn’t know why the saying arose.

  9. Arthur Clapham permalink
    March 3, 2020 9:30 am

    In the Cambrideshire Fens Febuary has always been known has been known fill dyke either black or else white!! It’s not climate change its Weather.

  10. March 3, 2020 10:13 am

    The BBC also announced that there would be no crop of Eiswein (Ice Wine) in Germany this year. A similar report in The Times stated “Climate change is blamed for the first break in a wine-making tradition….” However what wasn’t mentioned was the following:

  11. March 3, 2020 10:38 am

    It rather depends which set of figures you choose, so the England and Wales winter figures [ dec- jan – feb ], not UK, show that the wettest year since 1716 was 1915 and they haven’t updated feb so far but I’m guessing it isn’t going to be exceptional as Dec had lowish rainfall and January was similar to many previous years. I guess the Met office is following the ‘scare them all’ agenda by cherry picking. Need to update this sometime.

  12. March 3, 2020 10:40 am

    I feel so sorry for those who have flooded but I notice from the news reports, many are new homes, so surely it is time to call a halt from building on flood plains?

  13. Philip Mulholland permalink
    March 3, 2020 10:27 pm

    Britain’s flooding crisis ‘made worse by the EU’: Green Brussels bureaucrats have ‘banned’ river dredging that allows water to drain faster, say farmers.
    Mail Online 03 March 2020

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