Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Drought - Yes or No

What a contrast Monday was as the sun failed to make an appearance. It was dull and cold with a strong cold breeze blowing. Still milder weather is forecast for the end of the week. 

Tuesday on the other hand was much better. It was brighter and produced the mildest day of the year so far with 12.9°C. Our snowdrops are now in full bloom.
Over the last few days there seemed to be plenty of news items about drought conditions in certain parts of the country. This is how the BBC reported covered the story on their web site.
Click here to read full BBC News report
So how do we match up locally. Well I’m not sure winter has been dry as both December and January were wet with more than expected rainfall. February has so far been dry with hardly any rainfall. Over the 3 winter months our average rainfall would be 165mm and so far with just a week of February to go we are up to 150mm, not far short of what we might expect.
However the previous 9 months up to December were dry with every month producing less than average rainfall. So December and January’s rainfall hasn't gone anyway to making up for those 9 dry months and a dry February has put us back to square one again.

Our location is south of Leeds located in the 60-69% of long term rainfall and at moderate drought risk. By my calculations and rainfall measurements over the last 12 months we’ve received 59% of our long term average rainfall in close agreement with the Met Office.
Strange then that down on the plot it’s wet and the soil needs to dry out a little before it’s dug. The wet months obviously replenished the soil moisture and whilst February has been dry the soil spent the first two weeks of the month frozen solid. Some of that rainfall needs to dry out before the ground is suitable for digging.

My weather station does a calculation to evaluate how much moisture is lost from the soil due to temperature, humidity and wind. Very little moisture has been lost during the last 3 months but once March arrives then the amount of moisture lost increases quickly drying out the soil. Without additional rain this summer it might well be that the true effects of last year’s very dry summer will start to kick in.


  1. The snowdrops look lovely. There's definitely no sign of drought here, everywhere is wet today, though the wind keeps pushing the rain clouds away.

  2. It's windy here too but so far not really any rain, just some squally drizzle.


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