Weatherwatch: Britain's wettest October on record

In October 1903 a relentless series of Atlantic lows brought rain almost every day and many crops rotted in the ground

We in Britain are used to variations in our weather from month to month and year to year. But few periods in history were quite so variable as the period around the turn of the twentieth century, which saw both the driest month on record (February 1891), and the wettest (October 1903), since reliable rainfall records began in 1766.

In October 1903, across most of Britain, it rained almost every day. The cause was a relentless series of Atlantic lows, sweeping rapidly across the country from the west, and dumping their contents over the land.

Individual records were not necessarily broken: for example, Seathwaite in the Lake District had less than two-thirds the rainfall it received in another very wet month, December 2015. But because the rain was so widespread, the average rainfall for the whole country was unparalleled, especially across western areas, from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides. Only East Anglia and Kent escaped the downpours.

For farmers, this was a disaster: the growing season had been as good or better than most, but the October deluge meant that many crops rotted in the ground.


Stephen Moss

The GuardianTramp

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