Rain, rain, rain

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest it took awhile to come to terms with the perpetual grey skies and rain. I was used to the weather in the mid-west: really cold winters with feet of snow and really hot summers with tornadoes. There were even laws about shovelling your walk within 24 hours of a new snow fall. And, generally, lots and lots of sunshine. People really did go ‘snow blind’ in the winter because of the bright sunshine reflecting off fresh, clean snow. Eventually I acclimated to living in the Puget Sound region but I did still miss being really hot at least a few days out of the year. But I didn’t miss the snow. Been there, shovelled that, glad to ditch the tire chains.

Then I moved to England. It’s worse. Really. Like Seattle we only get a few days of snow a year, maybe. And like Seattle most people haven’t got a clue of how to drive in it. It’s seldom really cold for very long and it’s a rare day indeed when the temperature gets over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a temperate climate. Where it’s ‘worse’ than Seattle is how long the wet season lasts.

Let’s be honest, Seattle is pretty grey and wet overall but there is a ‘drier’ season. As I remember June, July and August (and sometimes May and September) were pretty good. Maybe not everyday but you could get lots of days without too much precipitation. I even remember some lawns going a bit brown in the summer.

In England it feels like the dry season barely exists. Some years are very wet and cold. It seems to be getting worse in fact. When my son was younger we actually had a fairly big swimming pool set up in the garden (back yard to you Yanks) for several years. It was big enough that it had a pump and we had to sterilise the water. But over the last few years we haven’t bothered. Seriously, some ‘summers’ we get barely a week of really nice, warm, sunny weather. According to Wikipedia the average high temperature in England in July is 69.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Less than 70 degrees!! All the other months are below that. I expect this year is going to be much lower than that. It’s early June as I write this and I’m still wearing a heavy gortex, lined jacket when taking the dog out for a walk (not that he or I enjoy it much).

And then there’s the humidity . . . sigh. It’s damp. Really damp. If I remember correctly the yearly average humidity is about 70%. Even if I wash my car (something I’m not good at remembering to do) mould grows in the areas where the big brushes don’t reach. In a forest you can’t tell which direction is north because lichen grows on all sides of the trees.

The perpetual high humidity means that the cold days feel colder and the hot days feel hotter but, to be honest, it’s all pretty tame compared to some places in America. I remember once being in Wisconsin when the temperature was 105 degrees. Even the mosquitoes called it a day. One time in Washington DC I went into an ice cream parlour and as I stepped outside with my cone the ice cream started melting so fast that I couldn’t keep up with it running down the sides. I really shouldn’t complain about the weather but doing so is something of an English national hobby and my participating is very encouraging to my British friends who are trying to ‘convert’ me. 🙂 But I do make a point when asked why I moved to England saying that it wasn’t for the weather.

If you want to come and visit England (and I highly encourage you to do so) then try and come during July, August or September. But no matter when you come bring rain gear. You’ll probably need it.