More on the ‘Unprecedented’ Rainfall Causing UK Flooding

In response to me linking to my latest blog post on Twitter, BBC weatherman and meteorologist Simon King pointed me to this graph of UK annual rainfall  since 1910 which shows a significant increase in trend since 1980 – a point which he made when being interviewed on BBC FiveLive apparently.


Aside from the fact that the UK series is very much shorter than the EWP which goes back to 1766, there is indeed a marked positive trend in UK annual rainfall, starting around 1973, and exceeding that of 1910. Here is the corresponding graph for England:


And for Wales:


Though the same trend exists, it is not very pronounced. It is more pronounced for Northern Ireland:


It is a lot more pronounced for Scotland:


Thus, it would appear that the overall increase in annual UK precipitation from 1973 is due in large measure to an increase in rainfall in Scotland, with a lesser contribution from Northern Ireland and only very minor contributions from England and Wales.

Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire are of course in England and the Environment Agency is of course responsible only for flood defences in England. So pointing out that rainfall in the UK has increased significantly, when much of that increase has been in Scotland and Northern Ireland, is not that relevant, particularly when the flooding in England has provoked sharp criticism of England’s freshwater flood preparedness measures as managed (badly, it seems) by the Environment Agency. It is even more irrelevant in that even the UK annual rainfall data shows there has been no really significant increase in Winter precipitation since 1910, the issue at present being winter rainfall causing flooding.


2014 again stands out but there is very little overall increase in trend since 1910. Given the fact that winter 2015/16 still has 2 more months to go, it may or may not turn out out to be a particularly wet winter overall.

The lesson here (if there is one) is, don’t listen to BBC Radio FiveLive if you want all the facts about current severe flooding and what may be contributing to it.



  1. The increase in winter rainfall in percentage terms is larger than for the annual increase since 1970. Still only 2.5″ though. What the alarmists say is that the pattern has changed, with more localised heavy rainfall. This may be true for the last 5 decades or so, but in the ’50s there were some serious floods too, as the re were in the late ’20s.

    Memories are short in alalalarmist land.


    1. Hi Rog. Yes indeed, Honister Pass apparently set a new UK record for the most rainfall in a 24 hour period and I believe further regional rainfall records have been broken at various weather stations. Alarmists would have us believe that extreme rainfall events are on the increase because of ‘simple physics’ associated with global warming. Alas, this must apply to 24 hour events only as if we look at even shorter timescales, all of the intense rainfall records – were set in 1975 or earlier, going back to 1953 (a 5 min rainfall record apparently was set in 1893, but is approximate only). The 09-09 GMT record for 24 hour rainfall has still not been broken since it was set at Martinstown, Dorset in July 1955. The Wales, Scotland and NI 09-09 records remain intact as well, as far as I can see – so far. I’ll be doing another post on this very soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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