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Top 10 driest Springs in the South London area since 1900
In this part of London it has been notably dry so far this Spring, although one heavy thunderstorm could quickly change that. March proved to be the 16th driest in South London since 1900, not exceptional when taken alone, but with April days running out, the 2 month total is begiinning to look on the low side.
The first 2 months of Spring

A very dry March is a  fairly common feature of Spring weather. and on 10 occasions since 1900 there have been monthly totals under 10mm. Perhaps surprisingly, 5 of these very dry Marches have gone on to feature in the top 10 driest Springs. The 5 that didn't make it were 1926 (40th driest), spoilt by a dull and wet April; 1931 (83rd driest) ruined by the 2nd wettest April since 1900; 1935 (33rd driest), another dull and wet April; 1943 (12th driest), had a dry April but although May was fairly warm and sunny, a total of 17mm of rain fell on the 10th to take that year out of the top 10. The other year that had a dry March yet failed to reach the top 10 was 1961 (14th driest). A warm, but dull and wet, April, spoilt the sequence, but May was dry.   

Since 1900 there have been 7 Aprils with monthly rainfall totals below 10mm. Only 3 of these very dry Aprils featured in the top 10 dry Springs. The 4 other dry Aprils were 1912 (29th driest Spring), this was preceded by a wet March; 1955 (52nd) marred by a very wet May; 1984 (89th) sandwiched between a wet March and a very wet May; and finally 2007 (55th). Although April 2007 was a very dry (and warm) month, rainfall during March was above average and May was distinctly wet.

May, the wild card of Spring

There have been many Mays that have been essentially dry but with the odd thundery downpour to soak the parched ground. Of course, 20 or 30mm of rain  in a short space of time will quickly muddy the statistics, and the continued warming of both the air and the ground produces an environment more conducive to heavy thunderstorms/showers than during the early Spring months. There have only been 4 very dry Mays since 1900 but 2 of these have featured in the top 10 driest Springs. The 2 very dry Mays that were part of wetter Springs were 1919 (70th driest Spring) and  1991 (19th). March was a dry month in 1991 but over 30mm of rain fell on the 29th April in an otherwise fairly dry month.

10th driest Spring.....1900    73mm

All 3 Spring months in this year had rainfall around 50% below average. There were no heavy downpours in a year totally lacking in high rainfall totals. The wettest day was in December with a figure of just 13mm. Although this was a dry Spring,  it was cold, especially in March and May. The temperature reached 23C on the 21st April, but April also had below average temperatures. To add to the poor weather, sunshine totals fell a long way short of the normal. March was a very dull month, and whilst April was slightly sunnier than average, there were many gloomy days to follow during May.  

9th  driest Spring.... 1974    65mm

March was a fairly dry month with winds predominantly blowing from the east. It was rather cold at times early in the month but often sunny. There was heavy rain on the 10th with the 12mm that fell accounting for 40% of the monthly total. Strong westerly winds around mid month were accompanied by rain although amounts were small. The latter part of the month brought a return of the easterly winds, plenty of dry weather, and days of warm sunshine or cold low cloud. April was dominated by high pressure and the low rainfall (10mm) made it the 8th driest April since 1900. The first 10 days were dry and mostly warm and sunny, but then a cold front from the north introduced much cooler northeast winds, and although largely sunny at first, it became increasingly cloudy and damp, with most of the significant rain during April falling during the last week of the month. May was a changeable and rather cool month overall, but there were several warm and sunny days, especially later. Weather systems often flirted with London,  or weakened as they crossed the Capital so rainfall was only just over 50% of normal.  

8th driest Spring .... 1957    62mm

There was an exceptonally mild start to Spring with March the mildest of the whole series (1900-2011). Sunshine amounts were below average, but although rain fell on 11 days, the highest reading was only 7mm,  and the monthly total was 30% below average.  The mild weather continued into the early part of April but the second week was cool . Generally, though, it was a rather sunny month, and a late recovery of temperatures kept April on the mild side of average. Rainfall was well below average, and the 9mm that was recorded made it the 7th driest since 1900. May was a cool and changeable month , although the last week produced some warm sunny weather. Despite the lack of a prolonged dry spell, rainfall for the month was over 40% below average with the wettest day receiving less than 8mm of rain.

7th driest Spring.... 1929    60mm 

Measurable rain only fell on 1 day during March, the 25th, and with less than 1mm falling, it stands as the driest March since rainfall records began. Some parts of central and north London had a completely dry month. Although it was  very sunny and day-time temperatures were above normal,  nights were frequently cold and frosty. April was a cool ,rather dull and changeable month although some fine and warm days occurred after the 15th. Measurable rain fell on 12 days during the month, but the largest amount was only 5mm and the total was more than 40% below average. There was a frost on the first morning of May, and the opening few days of the month were cool and changeable.  On the 5th, nearly 12mm of rain fell, but after mid month there was some warm and sunny weather. The temperature exceeded 27C on the 23rd and May ended with a rainfall deficit of 30%.

6th driest Spring....1944   53mm

Although rain was recorded on 5 days during March, no daily total exceeded 0.5mm and the month stands as the 2nd driest since 1900. Generally the month was cool and fairly cloudy, although clear skies led to some sharp frosts early on. The last week of March had some warm and sunny weather. April was a mild, frost-free month. It was the 5th mildest since 1900. It was often cloudy, although warm and sunny weather occurred during the last week. Rainfall was nearly 30% below average with the 16mm that fell on the 3rd accounting for almost 50% of the monthly total.   May was sunny and dry and although temperatures were close to average overall, there was some very warm weather late in the month. On the 29th, the temperature rose above 30C. Rain only fell on 5 days during May. The amount for the month was over 60% below average with the 7mm on the 13th amountring to nearly half the total. 

5th driest Spring .... 1956   50mm

March was a sunny and fairly mild month. Rainfall was slightly over 50% of the average with the 9mm of rain that fell on the 3rd accounting for nearly half the  total. April was much colder than average and it was also a rather dull month. However, rainfall was again close to 50% of the average with a third of the total, 8mm, falling on the 13th. There were several warm days in a very sunny May, and although measurable rain fell on 6 days, no daily fall exceeded 2mm. The total for the month, 6mm, ranked it as the 2nd driest May since 1900.

4th driest Spring .... 1997  49mm

There were only 2 wet days during March, the 3rd and 4th, and the total rain for the month was over 60% below average. In this frost-free, anticyclonic  March  there were several pleasantly mild days.  The mild weather continued into April and it was very dry. No measurable rain fell between 25th March and 17th April (24 days) and between 6th March and 24th April (50 days) a mere 2.4mm of rain were recorded. Over 11mm of rain fell during the 25th and 26th April, but from 3rd to the 20th May unsettled weather prevailed and the 27mm of rain that fell contributed to a monthly total that was less than 30% below average. Following on from this dry Spring, June was exceptionally wet with well over 3 times the monthly average rainfall.

3rd driest Spring .... 1938   42mm

After a very dry February, the first 2 months of Spring 1938 produced only 9mm , the lowest March/April total from 1900 until the present day.  The weather in March and April contrasted markedly. March was the 2nd mildest  between 1900 and 2011; and it was also extremely sunny, The 7mm of rain that fell on 3 days included 4mm on the 25th. No measurable rain fell bwetween 2nd and 24th (23 days). It ranked as the 6th driest March in the 112 year series. April was colder than March. It was also a rather dull month. However, similar to March, rain only fell on 3 days. The total of 2mm is the lowest since 1900, and no measurable rain fell between 4th and 23rd (20 days). May was a cool, dull and changeable month. Nevertheless, rainfall was nearly 30% below average.

2nd driest Spring .... 1990    41mm

The first 18 days of this very anticyclonic March produced less than 1mm of rain, and the total for the month was only 7mm. This made it the 6th driest March since 1900. April was a very sunny and rather warm month but the second and third week were particularly unsettled with rain falling on wach day between the 12th and 23rd. Nevertheless, the total for the month was around 40% below average, although the showery nature of the rain (there were 5 days with thunderstorms!) meant that rainfall across the Capital varied considerably. Measurable rain only fell on 2 days during May, the 9th and 10th, with the dry spell (21 days) ending on 1st June. The 4mm of rain that fell made it the driest may since 1900, although for some parts of London May 1989 was drier. Not only was May dry, it was also sunny and warm. It was the 4th warmest since 1900 and included 15 days when the temperature reached, or exceeded,  20C.

The driest Spring .... 1976  40mm

High pressure across the country helped to produce a dry, sunny and mild start to March,, although it became very cold at the end of the first week as winds became easterly. The weather turned unsettled during the middle of the second week and 4mm of rain fell on the 16th. However, pressure was relatively high for the remainder of the month, and although cold easterlies were replaced by mild southwesterlies amounts of rain were small. and it ranked as the 8th driest March since 1900.  The beginning of April was changeable as weak fronts crossed the country from the northwest.. The 14th was wet with 7mm of rain falling but then high pressure became established again to give a warm and sunny Easter. The end of the month was cooler but dry, and the total rain for the month (9mm) made it the 6th driest April in the series. May was a warm and sunny month but  there were some changeable spells. The 20th was a particularly showery day, and the 8mm of rain that fell was the main contribution to a monthly total that was about 50% below average.

.....and what of the Summer?

It is impossible to predict with any accuracy the weather for more than a few days ahead and many a reputation has foundered on fanciful assertions. On a broader scale, it can be said that extremes of dryness (and often wetness) are caused by blocking weather patterns when the cross-Atlantic flow is weaker than normal or deflected north or south of its usual course. It is not unusual for these blocked weather patterns to persist for some while, but it only needs a blocked pattern to shift a few degrees east in longitude to turn a dry and warm summer into a cool and wet one. For the record, this is what happened to the summers following the very dry Springs.

1900
June      - Rather disappointing but some hot weather during the second week.   
July       -  Very sunny, warm and dry.
August -  Fairly cool and changeable.

1974
June      - Rather cool and wet. a few warm days mid month.
July       -  No hot weather. Generally cool and dry, but quite sunny.
August - Plenty of sunshine, but some heavy rain too. No hot days.

1957
June    -  Dry, sunny and warm.
July       - Hot  at  first . otherwise rather warm, cloudy and sometimes wet.
August - Mostly cool, and often dull and wet.

1929
June     - Dry and rather cool but a few warm days.
July       - Sunny. Some hot days around mid month followed by thundery downpours.
August - Mostly on the cool side, but a warm and sunny end to the month.

1944
June     - Cool and cloudy but dry.
July       - A very dull month but not especially cool or wet.
August - Pleasantly warm and sunny first fortnight. Weather deteriorating during the third week.

1956
June     - Dull, cool and often wet.
July       - Very wet, frequently cool, cloudy and breezy.
August - Very cool, wet and cloudy.

1997
June     - Very wet and dull. No hot days.
July       - Dry and sunny but temperatures not particularly high.
August - Very warm and sunny but several thundery downpours.

1938
June     - Very dry but often cloudy and breezy.
July       - Dry, dull and cool but a warm end to the month.
August - Very warm on the 1st, otherwise plenty of cloudy and wet weather.

1990
June     - Dull and often cool.
July       - Very dry and sunny with many warm day, but cool nights.
August - Very warm, dry and sunny. Rcord-breaking heat early in the month.

1976
June     - A cool start, otherwise dry, sunny and warm with a hot end to the month.
July       - Very sunny and dry. Hot at first then many very warm days.
August - Dry, sunny and very warm.

........and what of  Summer 2011?.........Who knows!


 

 

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