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BBC’s Oxford Soggy Month Claims Undermined By The Actual Data!

November 3, 2020

By Paul Homewood


There have already been attempts to present last month’s rainfall as being some exceptional.

This attempt from the BBC rather shoots itself in the foot!!



Last month was a particularly mucky and murky one amongst the "dreaming spires" of Oxford, as the city experienced its wettest October in 145 years.

Data collected at the Radcliffe Observatory recorded 185.3mm of rain.

Not only was that the highest monthly total observed on the site since 1875, it was also the fourth wettest of all months since records began in 1767.

"We had an intense start to the month which was driven by Storm Alex, which saw 60mm falling on one day, the 3rd. That was quite something," he told BBC News.

"But we also had 27 rainy days in the month. A rainy day is when rainfall is equal to or greater than 0.2mm per day, and those 27 rainy days are a record for an October."


Prof Richard Washington, the director of the Radcliffe Meteorological Station, told BBC News: "The UK Climate Projections note that the decade 2009-2018 was on average 1% wetter than 1981- 2010 and 5% wetter than 1961-1990 for the UK overall.

"Winters have followed a similar but more marked trend, such that the decade 2009-2018 was 5% wetter than 1981-2010 and 12% wetter than 1961-1990.

"Those are stark numbers. For many of us, though, they are hard to imagine. It is the union of weather and climate instead that turns out to be more tangible and interesting.

"What we witnessed on a day to day basis in October 2020, complete with its 27 rain days in Oxford, is how we might expect a wetter future to look. The weather has been unrelenting and the climate promises more."


Unfortunately the table shown in the same BBC report totally undermines everything that Mr Washington says:




Far from wetter weather increasing, the reverse is true. You have to go back to 1940 to find any entry in the Top 10 before last month, and the top three wettest months are all pre 20thC.

It is indisputable that monthly rainfall in Oxford has become much less extreme.


I am also intrigued by this statement:

 What we witnessed on a day to day basis in October 2020, complete with its 27 rain days in Oxford, is how we might expect a wetter future to look. The weather has been unrelenting and the climate promises more.

The wet weather last month was primarily due to the persistence of wet weather, not the severity of it. I have seen no claims nor evidence that global warming will lead to increasing persistence. Normally, of course, the claim concerns heavier rainfall events.

Which brings us to October 3rd, when 60mm of rain is said to have fallen. That is certainly an unusually high total, but nowhere near a record:





Between 1922 and 1973, there were five days with considerable more rainfall. So again we find that this year was simply an outlier, which went against the long term trend.


Finally we might as well check that claim about winter rainfall:

Winters have followed a similar but more marked trend, such that the decade 2009-2018 was 5% wetter than 1981-2010 and 12% wetter than 1961-1990.

"Those are stark numbers. For many of us, though, they are hard to imagine. It is the union of weather and climate instead that turns out to be more tangible and interesting.

Unfortunately the good Professor is talking through his hat again:




There has been no change in winter rainfall trends since the 1910s. The cherry picked baseline he uses, 1961 to 1990, was a relatively dry period in relation to the rest of that century.

It is a pity he does not pay more attention to the unique database he has at his hands, and less to the mumbo jumbo propagated by the Met Office.

  1. A C Osborn permalink
    November 3, 2020 2:26 pm

    Are you going to bother challenging them Paul?
    It seems a waste of your time to do so, as we know they will come back some BS answers.

  2. Geoff B permalink
    November 3, 2020 2:53 pm

    Professor is just a pay grade at University, it just means over promoted in this case. Its worrying when the professor can be so wrong in his interpretation, a classic example of group think.

  3. Mack permalink
    November 3, 2020 3:03 pm

    Nicely done Paul. It seems most professors in meteorology these days only study journalism not history and certainly not science as most of us here understand it.

  4. Curious George permalink
    November 3, 2020 3:44 pm

    Get ready for 40 days and 40 nights of rain. The University deserves it.

    • Gary Kerkin permalink
      November 3, 2020 6:27 pm

      Ark!Ark!Ark — as in the sound made by a C-Gull: a person gulled by the alarm of climate propaganda.

  5. StephenP permalink
    November 3, 2020 4:27 pm

    For comparison with Oxford, here are some rainfall figures in millimeters for mid Somerset from 1983 to 2015.
    The wettest month average was for October and the driest average for March.
    October was also remarkable for never having less than 45 mm rainfall, not a great help to farmers trying to sow winter wheat unless the previous months had been very dry..

    Month Month Month
    Month Average Max Min
    Jan 73 199.0 8.5
    Feb 53 145.0 0.5
    Mar 44 108.5 15.0
    Apr 52 165.5 2.0
    May 53 108.0 3.5
    Jun 56 154.0 13.0
    Jul 60 179.0 16.0
    Aug 65 152.0 11.5
    Sep 55 165.5 8.5
    Oct 89 174.5 45.0
    Nov 79 191.0 22.0
    Dec 77 161.0 16.5

    Total Max Min
    756 1167.5 531.0

    The wettest year was 2012 and the driest 1987

    • Slingshot permalink
      November 4, 2020 8:11 pm

      Could we please have rainfall shown in inches – so much easier to detect trends, discrepancies and outright errors?

  6. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    November 3, 2020 5:06 pm

    One of the most amazing things about klimate kultests is their propensity to just make carp up. I’m shocked!

    • November 4, 2020 2:01 pm

      Every outlier is a trend, or a future trend, in their blinkered world. More than a touch of climate derangement syndrome?

      • dave permalink
        November 5, 2020 7:44 am


        Even on “a rainy day,” rain-fall is extremely local and patchy.

        Professor A.J. Henry, of the U.S.A. Weather Bureau, said, in 1929, that you would need a separate rain gauge for every 160 acres to make an accurate picture.

  7. jack broughton permalink
    November 3, 2020 5:49 pm

    The last graph shows an interesting split between the 19th and 20th centuries. Maybe showing the effect of the LIA?

    I remember when professors were either over cautious or eccentrics like Meredith Thring. We now have over 20,000 professors few of whom could really profess anything useful.

    The Covid issue has shown how the media love it when the good professors decry a policy even if they were part of forming the policy in the first place: they then become experts of course, as they are with any doomsday predictions they make. Vice Chancellors seem even worse!

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 3, 2020 6:59 pm

      At least partly explained by inadequate rain gauges/human factors failing to fully record heavy rainfalls historically. If you have a small fixed capacity rain gauge, and no one noticed when it was nearly full, all the excess went unrecorded.

      “During the second half of the nineteenth century progress in gauge design, installation and observer practice in Britain was largely shaped by Symons.”

      There’s a lot of issues comparing long term weather records, be it rain, temperature, even sunshine – as there have been dramatic changes in instruments and methods.

      Of course the scientists say careful comparisons are done, but published research can’t even agree if PRT over or under read compared to LIG thermometers.

    • Victor Hanby permalink
      November 4, 2020 7:55 pm

      I started my PhD in 1963 under Med. Thring, to see if you could burn pulverised coal in a stationary V1 engine. He was a polymath and a visionary and so was subject to both admiration and criticism. In the context of fossil fuel use, he widely advocated a concept which was reinvented under the title of ‘contraction and convergence’. He was a real professor. Nowadays we have a proliferation of them (including myself). I had a PhD student, a graduate of an American university, who insisted on referring to me as ‘Dr’, as from his background every academic was a professor. Don’t get me started on VC’s salaries.

  8. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 3, 2020 6:07 pm

    Anything about prolonged periods of rain reminds me of this song by Runrig.

    Since I was young I’ve faced this pill
    I’ve worked this land and I always will
    Through life and death I’ve learnt the hill
    A worker for the wind
    I fake my sheep and cattle days
    The endless storm, the months of rain
    But this land holds me ball and chain
    A worker for the wind
    You need heart, you need dreams
    Laughter, joy, you need beliefs
    But without love you sow an empty field
    A worker for the wind
    In the night the light grows thinner
    The lust for love cuts like shiver
    I need to hold you through the winter
    A worker for the wind
    Mary, I’ll wait for you
    Mary, I’ll wait for you
    Calum Macdonald, Rory Macdonald

  9. bobn permalink
    November 3, 2020 6:13 pm

    ‘A rainy day is when rainfall is equal to or greater than 0.2mm per day,’ says the nutty Professor.
    Who dreamt up that ludicrous definition of a ‘rainy day’. Thats about the width of a human hair! Any day with fog or frost or dew or humidity will likely deposit more moisture than that stupidly small amount. So i guess this Prof just invented that definition? A sunny dry day that has a 1 minute moisture event is now defined as ‘rainy’. Its not a rainy day in my book.

  10. Phillip Bratby permalink
    November 3, 2020 7:45 pm

    The professor should be sent on Ark Ship B where he would be at home amongst the telephone sanitisers.

    October was quite a dry month where I live. The river never rose more than a few inches,

  11. Jackington permalink
    November 3, 2020 8:23 pm

    I don’t get it; over a long life I was always told the climate of individual counties or regions within a country was determined by the recording of weather patterns in that region over a number of years. Like, UK has always been and still is called a temperate climate i.e not too hot nor too cold not too dry not too wet.
    Here we have Washington et al telling me that climate will determine the weather. These guys have got it arse about face surely. But, of course, they must emphasise the narrative of climate change, climate change, climate change, lest we forget!

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      November 4, 2020 12:50 am

      “Climate” for the “climate science” types came from the global warming framing of the issue, and simply means an average temperature from chest high thermometers.

      “Climate” has historically meant the sort of weather a place can expect seasonally. Thus, native vegetation was the way Wladimir Köppen approached the problem in the late 1800s.
      The plants I see locally are Ponderosa Pines and small drought tolerant shrubs. Very different from what one finds along a wet coast.
      Examples given are central Washington State and the coast of British Columbia. Not much change since the last glacial advance ended, the ocean came up, and the Westerly Winds became established.

  12. Pancho Plail permalink
    November 3, 2020 8:23 pm

    Now I know I am getting old and forgetful, but wasn’t it only a few years ago that we were told to start planting drought resistant plants to cope with the new Mediterranean climate that Britain was going to get.

    • richardw permalink
      November 5, 2020 8:50 am

      Yes, I also remember probably back in the 80s there were big rows over where to site a new reservoir in Oxfordshire to handle reduced rainfall as well as increased demand.

  13. Tym fern permalink
    November 3, 2020 10:47 pm

    But but but…..I thought we were supposed to be having droughts!

  14. Paul H permalink
    November 3, 2020 10:50 pm

    The wife and I were staying in Wallingford first to the fourth of October (down from Lankey sheer), and spent the second, Friday. in Oxford. Not the third admittedly, but we became abso flippin lutely drenched trudging around that day. Haven’t been so soaked to the skin, literally, for many a year. Happy now we didn’t choose Saturday!

  15. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 4, 2020 9:30 am

    So it was a record by maybe 10mm but they had a single weather event that dropped 60mm. That sort of weather event in Oxford happens once every 150 years (say). So that explains it then. Without a single, rare occurrence it’s nowhere near a record.

    • dave permalink
      November 4, 2020 12:55 pm

      Three times, he said what a rainy day is. Each time he was wrong. 0.01 in or 0.02 mm within 24 hours is the standard definition of “a rain day,” i.e. a day on which there is, objectively, SOME rain; not the definition of “a rainy day” which is SUBJECTIVELY a day with a LOT of rain.

      Modern Academics are such muppets.

  16. Gerry, England permalink
    November 4, 2020 10:34 am

    The GWPF have a post on National Grid issuing a ‘margin notice’ for today as there is expected to be a supply crunch between 4.30 and 6.30pm as the wind is not blowing enough. Coal-fired plants are being warmed up but by 2024 they will all be closed. But it will be OK as we will have lots more windmills by then….oh, hang on how will they help with no wind.

    • Tym fern permalink
      November 4, 2020 5:57 pm

      Correct, just looked COAL 5% WIND 6.6% Even fired up a GAS OPEN CYCLE!
      18:00 hours

  17. Coeur de Lion permalink
    November 4, 2020 12:27 pm

    As of right now 12.24 November 4, the electrical demand is 40GW because there’s a slight nip in the air- 2degsC in Hampshire this dawn. Our gold-plated windmills are producing 7.0%. Above post re grid tensions understandable

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 4, 2020 7:09 pm

      42.5GW evening demand, coal fired up supplying 5.1%, wind 6.8%.

  18. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 4, 2020 6:41 pm

    Here’s the MO summary for October 2020. What’s notable really is the wettest areas are different from the usual distribution of rain in the UK. As I mentioned before my spot on the South Coast got 195.4mm 223% of ‘normal’.

  19. November 5, 2020 7:14 am

    Harrabin is at it again today – showing his lack of knowledge ‘Heat pumps are electrical devices that work like a fridge in reverse, sucking warmth out of the air on the ground. Unlike gas boilers they don’t emit gases that overheat the planet.’

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