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British Weather

The weather. It's always a talking-point in Britain. Why is that? Is it something odd about British people? Well it's nice to think that a lot of British people are eccentric, I mean, the place is famous for it. But really, it's the weather that's the point of note. The UK has some of the most interesting weather in the world.

"Britain does not have a Climate. It just has Weather"

In hot countries most of the indoor places that need to be comfortable are air-conditioned, and in cold countries most of the places that need to be comfortable are properly heated and insulated. The UK is the exception, since the weather is often interesting and no-one really takes heat and cold seriously. So although the weather can be very cold, very hot, very wet, or just wildly chaotic, it always takes people by surprise.

When it gets to winter and there is actually some Snow, it always takes the people by surprise. It is frontpage news, and even a few inches of nice fluffy white stuff brings the country to a standstill. But then, what happens next is even more surprising and catches the folk off guard completely. And who could possibly have predicted it?! It melts! Flooding! What a surprise!

Then in the summer, it gets very hot. If it had been Thailand or Australia there'd be no problem. It is supposed to be hot, so, there is air conditioning. But in the UK, just total bafflement at the sudden hot weather. Shock, health problems, and despite the fact that the country is considered to be where it always rains, summertime brings drought! But do people have cisterns and reserve water tanks? Wouldn't it make sense for people to stockpile rainwater in case of drought? Of course it would, but it is a dependency-culture where people have been trained to be dependent on the state, which then means that in emergency people are stuck!

Why is the British weather so odd? It is something to do with the combination of an almost Arctic latitude (Manchester is the same latitude as Moscow) combined with being an island and having the Gulf Stream bringing warm weather from the tropics on an intermittent basis.

Helpful people in the know on geographical meteorology have commented that the general situation with the UK weather is even more complex, as many different factors contribute to the changeable weather. As well as the North Atlantic drift, and the topography, there is the fact that the UK is affected by five major air masses: The tropical maritime Gulf Stream, the Polar Maritime air from the North, the Arctic Maritime, the Polar Continental (from Siberia), and the Tropical Continental (from Northern Africa). There's also fast flowing air in Jet Streams (which although shown in weather reports in the USA, are oddly kept secret in UK weather reports). Air goes around in convection currents in Hadley Cells and in Ferrel Cells. Because the British Isles can get weather coming from hot or cold zones, and from land or sea, a changeable hot/cold wet/dry weather is found.

More of this can be found at www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/eae/Climate/Older/British_Climate.html although now they say "This site is no longer available".

Meanwhile at Zyra's website, although it's not easy to cover everything, an attempt has been made and there is a diverse set of stuff about almost everything at the full site index