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Was It Really The Wettest Day?

November 5, 2020

By Paul Homewood



Saturday 3 October was the wettest day for UK-wide rainfall since records began in 1891, Met Office researchers have said.

The downpour followed in the wake of Storm Alex and saw an average of 31.7mm (1.24ins) of rain across the entire UK.

The deluge was enough to exceed the capacity of Loch Ness – the largest lake in the UK by volume – the researchers added.

The previous record wettest day was 29 August 1986.


No doubt this will be wheeled out at the end of the year by the Met Office to bolster its “extreme weather” propaganda. But was it really the wettest day? How do we know?

Quite simply, we don’t, because the Met Office have never published a database of UK daily rainfall. Instead we are expected to take their word for it. Would you trust a company claiming that it had just made record profits, when it had never published any accounts? Of course not.

We also know that the Met Office has recently included several high altitude sites in its rainfall database, which have inevitably skewed upwards rainfall totals.

However, although they do not publish UK daily rainfall data, we do have daily data from the England & Wales Precipitation Series back to 1931. This series categorically shows that October 3rd was not a record, nor anywhere close.

Rainfall totalled 28.48mm on that day, well below the record of 43.23mm which fell in August 1986. Last month’s “record” was in fact only the tenth wettest day.



Even the England & Wales series is of limited value, as it still only has 90 years of data. There will undoubtedly have been many other extremely wet days earlier.

In fact, as the Met Office admits, the rainfall on 3rd October was not particularly intense anywhere, simply widespread across the whole country.

For instance, Oxfordshire was one of the wettest spots in England, and they had about 60mm that day:

UK rainfall map 3 October 2020

However, even at Oxford, such a total was far from being unprecedented:



To be fair, Scotland got a real drenching that day, which may have tilted the UK figures up from the England & Wales ones. However, as I have frequently pointed out, Scotland has become wetter in recent decades, but that does not mean that the rest of the UK has.


The Met Office’s Mark McCarthy gives us the usual weasel words:

"We can’t make any definitive statements specifically about the attribution of this particular event on October 3," said Dr McCarthy.

"There’s a general expectation that under our warming climate, we would expect to see increases in some types of extreme rainfall and rainfall events and we’re expecting to have wetter winters overall, we could expect increases in these types of extremes."

If what he says is true, we would expect to see a pattern of increasingly extreme wet weather in England & Wales, and not just Scotland. The fact is that there is no such pattern, either in these intense daily events, or for that matter monthly totals.

Clearly therefore his theory holds no water.

  1. Phillip Bratby permalink
    November 5, 2020 11:40 am

    Typical totally meaningless data from the Wet Office. You only have to look at that map to see that rainfall was next to nothing in Cornwall and over 50mm in parts of Scotland. Averaging such data and drawing conclusions about the climate is scientifically illiterate. In any proper organisation Dr Mark McCarthy would be sacked for incompetence. He will probably soon be promoted and given a pay rise.

  2. Mack permalink
    November 5, 2020 11:48 am

    Indeed, under the Met Office’s simple logic that a warmer world will see more extreme rainfall events, why has a cooler Scotland been wetter than a warmer England in recent years?

  3. Philip Mulholland permalink
    November 5, 2020 12:17 pm

    “the Wet Office”
    Love it.

    “The deluge was enough to exceed the capacity of Loch Ness – the largest lake in the UK by volume – the researchers added.”

    So what? Was Loch Ness empty at the time?
    Meaningless propaganda.
    BTW The body of fresh water in question is a Loch not a Lake, cultural fail as well.

    • November 5, 2020 1:34 pm

      Philip, it is the language of “shock and awe” for the uneducated masses and I am highly suspicious of its origin and the motivation for it’s use. It is not the language of science but junk journalism and activism. It is meant to sound BIG and that means an agenda focussing on “big” therefore exception is behind the use if it. It is a meaningless observation and is proffered totally out of context without reference to a standard. Of course I am being frivolous but I would ask is this a new scientific measure? If so ,what IS the standard that is being exceeded with reference to the “Locherithmic scale? Is the “norm” a Loch Lochy or a Loch Awe?

  4. Broadlands permalink
    November 5, 2020 12:55 pm

    Although a different part of the world, some rainfall trivia from the US, NOAA:

    In Texas, the driest year on record was 1917. It was followed two years later by the wettest year on record, 1919.

    Precipitation in the US went from a near-record driest in 1956 to a near record wettest in 1957. Total annual rainfall went up 8.5 inches.

    In 1978-79 the Northeast region of the US experienced the wettest average winter on record. One year later, 1979-80 was the driest average winter on record. Dramatic change in one year!

    Cherry picking?

    • November 5, 2020 1:40 pm

      I like cherries but need to make pies out of the sour ones….errrrr I think we both know what is going on. What is shocking for me is how many people paid by the tax payer in specific roles which should automatically be non-partisan are adopting an activism stance That is not their job and they should be censured for exceeding the remit of their jobs.

  5. Gerry, England permalink
    November 5, 2020 3:03 pm

    I did a Zoom training session on soils for foresters this morning and of course moisture is important for tree growth so there was on one slide the statement that is rains more at altitude. So the MetO are relying on the media and the public not to notice when they make extreme weather claims based on rainfall stations at altitude. And apart from our savvy Paul and a few others, successfully too.

  6. cajwbroomhill permalink
    November 5, 2020 4:46 pm

    Why no response or counter argument from Met Office spokesman,?

  7. Ian Simpson permalink
    November 5, 2020 7:03 pm

    Might it be politic to register a complaint to the BBC putting the counter POV and request a public clarification or even..retraction?

    On second thoughts I complained about the total lack of BBC News coverage of Blair’s evident breach of CV19 quarantine regs on his return from the US and got a weasel reply saying it had to be – in effect – certain of the facts before publishing a News item…so, they were not able to corroborate reports in the printed press and elsewhere??…..doesn’t hold water IMHO, and just one more nail in their broadcasting cabinet coffin.

    Have a go Paul – give them another chance to “hang” themselves?

  8. November 5, 2020 9:17 pm

    I actually went the extra mile and found out the “robust” method they used.

    The result depends on “objective interpolation” so why would anyone doubt such a thing1

  9. November 6, 2020 2:11 am

    One can’t be too careful in these matters when what we are up against is the end of the world by climate change

  10. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 6, 2020 10:14 am

    So the “record” was by a small amount caused by a well-defined one-off weather event. That’s not climate change. That’s randomness. The UK is geographically small so the chances of all the necessary variables lining up to have this much rain is quite low – a touch north or south and lots of rain falls on sea for example. So let’s say it will happen once every hundred years or so. About right then.

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