Expert comment: Driest February in almost 90 years
01 March 2023
Water restrictions are ‘almost inevitable’ in summer thanks to a lack of rain this winter, according to a meteorology expert.
Measurements from the University of Reading’s Atmospheric Observatory show last month was the driest February on record for almost 90 years.
Dr Stephen Burt of the University’s Department of Meteorology, found that only three Februarys were drier since records began in 1908.
Dr Burt said: “February's rainfall amounted to just 2.7 mm in all, only six per cent of the 1991-2020 normal, making it the driest February on our records since 1934 (which had 2.5 mm of rain). Since our records began in 1908, only three Februarys have recorded less than 4 mm of rain - in 1934, in 1932 with 3.7 mm and in 1993 with 3.2 mm.
“Since mid-January, we've received only 3.4 mm of rain, about the same as the driest six-week period last summer (2.8 mm, ending 14 August). February was dominated by anticyclonic conditions - the mean pressure (at 0900 UTC) was 1028.8 hPa, almost 14 hPa above normal. It's only been higher in one month within the last 30 years (February 2012, mean 1030.6 hPa). The dry and mild weather during the month was, undoubtedly, at least partially the result of persistent high pressure.
“If March remains dry, and March is on average the driest month of the year in Reading, the reimposition of last summer's water restrictions must be almost inevitable. But then again, that's what was said in early 2012 after a very dry winter - which was quickly followed by a very wet spring and summer."