Busting the myth of London being a Rainy city

If there is one thing that tourists ask me when I’m out with them it is Brexit or Donald Trump.  If there is a second thing they ask me it is about the weather.    For some reason, people have the idea that it always rains in London and really it couldn’t be further from the truth.

It ‘rarely’ rains in London.  Whilst areas of the Western Highlands in Scotland, Snowdonia in Wales and the Lake District in NW England have high levels of rain fall by any level of expectation, London does not.  What’s more as the map below shows, London is far from being the driest part of the U.K.

I blame it on Hollywood movies who for some reason think rain it is a signature of London.  Perhaps it is a relic of the old Victorian and 1950’s smogs but I can honestly say out of the 300 or so days I am giving tours each day, I perhaps get wet on no more than a handful of occassions and even less so am I drenched.

My tourists often remark upon how unexpectedly dry the weather is and yet seem to insist that the climate is wet.  Yet when I ask how many of their previous 10 or 12 days in London have they seen any rain, most of them struggle to rememember more than an hour or so in their entire trip.

 

avgRAin1-2

Judging London by the rain of the Highlands or Lake District makes as little sense as saying to someone who lives in Arizona or Texas that they thought it would be wet all the time as everyone knows Seattle is rainy.

Much of my life we’ve been under water restrictions or hose-pipe bans and everyone knows not to waste water.  What London does get more than even most of the UK is overcast days.  London sits in a big basin and the cloud/fog can sit there for days if there is no wind.  But journey just a 120 miles NE of London to Norfolk, you get 30% more sunny days and even less rain than parched London.

Thinking about it logically, it makes no sense that it would rain so much in England.  Our summer sports of Lawn Tennis and Cricket need to be played on the grass and in the dry. Cricket takes 5 days to play out a full game and it can’t take place even under a light shower; so why would people create such a long game, dependent on a lack of rain if it rains all the time?

What we do get is unpredictablilty. It can be mild in winter and freezing in summer.  One day it can be in the 30’s or 90’s in the summer and then it can be 14 degrees C (high 50’s) the next day before flipping back again or indeed getting stuck in a rut.  Similarly in mid December it can easily be 14-16 degrees in London (60 degrees F) or a little under freezing.  This means that often I can wear the same clothing on mid winters day as mid-summers day!  However that doesn’t have much to do with rain.

In fact London is the 33rd least wettest capital city in Europe as you can see from the list below.   No-one thinks of wet Paris and yet it gets much more rain than London.  Look at Rome, it must be like living in a waterfall with a third more rainfall each year than London.  It’s not like people go to Lisbon for the rain either?

1st Wettest Podgorica (Montenegro) 1658mm
2nd wettest Ljubljana (Slovenia) 1368mm
3rd wettest Andorra la Vella (Andorra) 1329mm
4th wettest Tirana (Albania) 1265mm
5th wettest Bern (Switzerland) 1028mm
6th wettest Vaduz (Liechtenstein) 970mm
7th wettest Amsterdam (The Netherlands) 915mm
8th wettest Luxembourg (Luxembourg) 876mm
9th wettest Zagreb (Croatia) 856mm
10th wettest Brussels (Belgium) 852mm
11th wettest Reykjavik (Iceland) 842mm
12th wettest Rome (Italy) 804mm
13th wettest Lisbon (Portugal) 774mm
14th wettest Monaco (Monaco) 769mm
15th wettest Oslo (Norway) 763mm
16th wettest Dublin (Ireland) = 714mm

24th wettest Paris (France) = 650mm
33rd wettest London (United Kingdom) = 592mm
34th wettest Berlin (Germany) = 570mm

How wet is London compared to Europe?

How wet is London compared to Europe?

Or to see a more scientific map….  London is actually drier than mos of Europe and parts of North Africa.  In fact we get less rain than much of Syria, nearly all of Lebanon and are almost identical to Jerusalem and when was the last time you saw a Hollywood film there where everyone is under umbrellas or driving cars with their wipers on?  It rains almost twice as much in Dallas as it does in London and I don’t ever remember JR getting wet when out on his ranch at Southfork.

 

30nbLGf

It’s not just the quantity of rain but the number of rainy days.  Without going through a lengthy list, there are many more rainy days elsewhere in the world such as Miami, New York, Washington DC, Sydney, Mexico City and the list could go on.

But basically, unless you live somewhere where you get less rain than Jerusalem then you live somewhere wetter than London.  Our weather is complicated,   unpredictable but not exactly wet.   And if you want to know why (partiually due to the weather) Britons have the second largest brains in the world after Scandinavians then check out this post.

 

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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9 Responses to Busting the myth of London being a Rainy city

  1. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    Interesting

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marilyn Allan says:

    When we were there it never rained, and I was surprised too! Had always heard how it always rains there!! Glad it didn’t! Marilyn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    • Who’d think London has only about 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch more rain than Jerusalem! I’m glad it didn’t rain for you either. The proof of the pudding is in the eating as the saying goes.

      Like

  3. Graham says:

    It may rain little but a kiwi once said to me that while in London he hadn’t seen the sun for 11 days in a row…so I guess there are trade-offs eh? 😄 Looks like it might be less rainy in Yorkshire…head north, that man!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Francis says:

    A really good “talk about the weather”. So right and so sad now about Paris.
    .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Our Winter Weather (so far…) – From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Three

  6. ChrisH says:

    For what people remember, I think the number of days it rains is more the issue than the total amount of rain in a given period. If someone has a fortnight away and has a deluge of 21mm on one day and 13 dry ones they will have a very different view of the place than someone who has 7 dry days and 7 days with 3mm on each day.
    But the essence of your post is of course absolutely correct. Growing up in the 60s when standard city child care consisted of mainly of being left to play in the street till tea time; a few years of cycling to and from work; a job for a while that included a good deal of site work; and a general tendency to wander round London from time to time all confirm that it doesn’t rain vary often.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Talking about the Weather in the Lucchesia – From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Three

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