August Bank Holiday Mondays – how often does it rain?

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  • MeteoGroup's forecast chart for Saturday, showing a cool north-westerly wind flow. Lengthy dry spells in the west and south, but low pressure over Scandinavia will bring some sharp showers to the east.

    MeteoGroup's forecast chart for Sunday, showing a ridge of high pressure across the UK bringing dry and settled conditions.

    MeteoGroup's forecast chart for Monday, with an area of low pressure and active fronts pushing heavy rain north-eastwards. Driest in northern Scotland.

    Reading and Leeds Music Festivals are this weekend. While muddy scenes cannot be ruled out (especially in Leeds where there is a risk of heavy downpours on Saturday), there will be plenty of dry weather for both festivals but it will remain cool for late August. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • August Bank Holiday Mondays – how often does it rain?
    21.08.2014 14:37

    As we approach the last public holiday across England and Wales before Christmas, there is always interest on what the weather will be up to. An opportunity to take a late summer camping trip, visit the beach or perhaps walking or cycling, many people opt to get away for a few days to enjoy the long weekend.

    And when discussing plans for the Bank Holiday, the inevitable question on people’s lips is: “Is it going to rain?” Those of a more cynical nature may muse that it always rains on Bank Holidays, their views perhaps clouded by the recent six summers in a row (between 2007 and 2012) that were wetter than normal. Let’s take a look at the evidence for 30 years of Bank Holiday Mondays between 1984 and 2013.

    It rained widely across the UK on approximately 10 of these years (1 in 3). In 1986, following a fine day on the Sunday, the Monday 25th August was marred by the passage of ex-Hurricane Charley. This produced the wettest August Bank Holiday on record, with 135mm of rain falling in Aber, Wales, and more than 50mm of rain falling widely across Wales, Midlands and Northern England. It was almost as bad in 1992, when an unusually deep summer low pressure system swept heavy rain across much of the UK. There were westerly gales in southern England.

    Nine of the last 30 years saw dry weather across approximately half of the UK, but with rain or showers either clearing away in the morning or arriving in the evening across remaining areas. For example, in 2011 the Bank Holiday saw fresh north-westerly winds and showers across northern and eastern areas, while most southern and western parts stayed dry.

    Finally, 11 out of the last 30 years experienced a predominantly dry Bank Holiday Monday! As recently as last year, much of the UK enjoyed a fine day, with warm sunny spells and gentle winds. Just a few isolated showers developed in the far south, while rain clipped the far north-west of Scotland in the afternoon. Therefore, based on the last 30 year’s climate, a soaking is likely just slight more than one year in every three. North-western parts of the UK are most likely to experience rain.

    Which begs the question, what is this year’s Bank Holiday weekend going to be like? As is traditional with UK weather, a real mixture. The weekend will be rather cool, with sunny spells and scattered showers on Saturday. The showers will be few and far between in the south, but heavy and thundery in the north-east. Many places dry and fine on Sunday after a chilly start. Monday is looking cloudy, wet and breezy for many, but staying dry in the far north and east.

    By: Matthew Dobson