Spring 2023 in the United Kingdom: a disparity in the distribution of rainfall

Spring 2023 in the United Kingdom: a disparity in the distribution of rainfall

While some areas, such as the South of England, experienced periods of heavy rainfall, other regions, such as Scotland, experienced significantly less rainfall. Discover our climatological assessment for spring 2023.

Rainfall in Scotland vs England

The last few months have been characterized by abundant rainfall, particularly in England. March was the wettest month, with rainfall as much as 60% more recorded than the seasonal norm. This was the case in the county of Cambridgeshire. The opposite was true for other areas, particularly in the northern regions of Scotland. Some were drier than others, notably Inverness and Sutherland, with an average rainfall deficit of 36%. On the Sencrop network, the rainfall with the highest consistency was recorded in the southern regions, particularly in the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

Legend: total rainfall recorded, spring 2023 © Sencrop

Averaged over the 3 months of spring, rainfall was slightly above normal. Around 6% increase in rainfall according to data from the Met Office, the UK's official meteorological body. This observation has also been verified by the Sencrop network.

The lack of rainfall is a cause for concern in Scotland

It's essential to refer to previous years and indicate whether the lack of water is a cause for concern. Particularly in the depths of winter, which is an essential period of water recharge in Europe, with the return of the major disturbances coming straight from the Atlantic Ocean. During the winter of 2022/2023, the United Kingdom saw much less rainfall than average norm, with a deficit of around 17% across the whole country. This is not an encouraging record for certain regions, particularly Scotland, where spring was often drier than normal. In a press release, a spokesman for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said that he had already "issued warnings of water shortages in the north-west and South-central regions".

Temperatures within the seasonal average

Care must be taken not to let the average spring temperature obscure all the data, and the major disparities recorded over the last few weeks. 8.36°C is the average temperature recorded during the spring of 2023, which started out cold... before continuing often under mild temperatures. Even so, this temperature (8.36°C) was slightly above seasonal normals. On average, temperatures were mildest in the south of England on the Sencrop network. Just a few hours before the arrival of summer weather, some stations reached 25°C. Since 2000, eight previous springs have already seen temperatures reach or exceed 25°C before the onset of meteorological summer.

Legend: average temperature recorded, spring 2023 © Sencrop

May was characterized by both lack of moisture and mild temperatures.

While May 2020 exhibited less rainfall throughout the UK compared to May 2023, the average rainfall deficit reached 45% when comparing the total rainfall recorded over the period 1991-2020. Consequently, May 2023 emerges as one of the driest months in recent times. In terms of temperature, some regions recorded values between 1 and 1.4°C above seasonal normals, particularly in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Legend: average rainfall totals, May 2023 © Sencrop

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