Why is it raining so much? Why UK summer 2023 has been so wet explained, plus if rainy summers will continue

The Met Office has explained why the UK has seen so much rain while the rest of the world has experienced heatwaves

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There seems to be an unwritten rule in the UK that as soon as everyone has the time to go outside and enjoy nice sunny weather, the weather will turn bad and become rainy - be it for a weekend, a bank holiday or a school holiday.

Sadly, now the summer holidays have started, that unwritten rule has once again proven itself to be true as, so far, there have only been glimpses of the sun since the kids finished classes for the academic year. In fact, the whole of July has been a washout overall across the country and the last time we had any extended periods of sun was back in June. In fact, June 2023 was the hottest June on record for the UK.

July 2023 is likely to be the world's warmest month on record, but this is because of heatwaves globally. In the UK, it’s a different story and temperatures have been below average for the time of year. Everyone is wondering ‘when will it stop raining?’, and the Met Office has warned that we could be in for further days of unsettled weather during the remaining weeks of summer 2023. So, just why is it raining so much right now, and why does the UK get so much rain in general? Here’s what you need to know.

Why is it raining so much?

The amount of rain which falls across the globe is determined by two things; how warm the air is and the movement of weather patterns across the world, according to the Met Office. Hotter air can hold more moisture and if there is an unlimited water supply, such as an ocean, then warmer air draws up extra moisture. This then means that there are clouds containing a greater number of larger rain droplets and this can be why showers in summer are often heavier than in winter. Any shifts in weather patterns will lead to some regions becoming drier and others becoming wetter.

A Met Office spokesperson told The Metro: “A southern shift of the jet stream, which is a core of strong winds around five to seven miles above the earth’s surface, has pushed high pressure southwards across Europe, whereas I am sure you are aware, they are seeing some very warm temperatures at the moment. However, this has resulted in low-pressure systems being directed towards the UK, bringing more unsettled and cooler weather that we are currently experiencing here in the UK.”

The UK has experienced a very wet and rainy summer so far.The UK has experienced a very wet and rainy summer so far.
The UK has experienced a very wet and rainy summer so far.

They added: ‘It is not unusual for the UK to see unsettled weather in the summer months. For example we saw Storm Evert at the end of July 2021 and Storms Ellen and Francis in August 2020.” As the climate continues to warm, heavy rainfall events like storms are expected to become more common.

Why does it rain so much in the UK?

The jet stream is positioned near the UK and this influences a lot of our weather. The change in rainfall also depends on location. For example, Scotland has experienced the greatest increase in rainfall in recent years, while most southern and eastern areas of England have experienced the least change, according to Met Office data.

Met Office experts state that climate change is also having an impact on the amount of rain that falls, as well as how much other types of weather we will experience, such as sun, wind and thunder. A study using high-resolution climate models predicted, however, that the influence of human-caused climate change will likely not be seen clearly in short-duration extreme rainfall trends in the UK, which explore the hourly rates of rainfall, until at least the 2040s for winter and 2080s for summer.

The latest State of the UK Climate report shows that the UK has become wetter over the last few decades, although there is significant variation according to how much rain falls year on year. Overall, however, 2011 to 2020 was nine percent wetter than 1961 to 1990.

Will it continue to rain so much in the UK in the future?

Rainfall patterns in the UK vary by region and season and will continue to do so in the future, as predicted by the Met Office. The latest set of UK climate projections (UKCP18) reveal that, overall, the UK is expected to experience wetter winters and drier summers. In addition, however, the rain that does fall in summer will likely be more intense than we are currently used to.