What a grey, grim and grisly start to 2013 it is! Much of France has been languishing under low, grey cloud for almost a week and it’s accompanied by a raw cold that eats into you. The few that ventured to the market this morning were unanimous: “Y en a marre” (I’m cheesed off with it). We find it hard to believe that we can ever have plunged into that water-filled pit in the garden. Those lucky enough to live around Perpignan, however, have been enjoying temperatures in the low 20s C.
Météo France claims that 2012 was an average year for weather in France. In some respects, we’d agree. But our impression is that it rained when it shouldn’t and didn’t rain when it should. Our rainfall stats below bear this out.
The Statistics Freak (SF, aka my husband) has been slaving over a hot computer to bring you the figures. I’ll give you those for December first and then provide the verdict on how 2012 as a whole compares with previous years.
Weather assessment for December
A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In December 2012, there were:
Pluses – 8
Zeros – 10
Minuses – 13
In the scheme of things, this made it an average sort of December. The chart below shows the percentage of plus days for this December and the preceding 14 (the line is the trend, which is definitely getting worse). We have had two worse Decembers, five the same and seven better.
Following a mild autumn, December continued the trend. We had only six frost nights in the month, making 13 in total for the winter so far (including one in October). Only 2000, 2002 and 2011 have had fewer frost nights up to the same point in the winter. We should not be lulled into a false sense of security, though. February 2012 was bitterly cold with 24 frost nights.
Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. December’s rainfall was above average, with 104 mm (83.4 mm average) and it rained on 19 days as opposed to the average of 12.
Verdict on 2012 as a whole
2012 was neither particularly good nor particularly bad, except for an especially cold snap in February. The overall number of pluses was 182, compared with an average of 181. This is obviously a very subjective measure and conceals considerable variation within years. But when we look back at certain years we can see that it is a reasonable overview of how it actually was. For example, 2003 was blisteringly hot for several months and had 190 pluses; 2007 was pretty gloomy and had 167. I’m not attributing any scientific rigour to this system; just indicating that you can draw certain general conclusions from it.
We have complete rainfall data for eight years, which is a bit more scientific since we collect the rain in a rain gauge. In 2012, it rained a little more than in the two previous years but still less than the average: 776.5 mm compared with 843.3 mm. A very dry winter was followed by a very wet spring. Over the summer it rained about as much as you’d expect but this was followed by a dry autumn again.
I love reading French dictons (sayings) about the weather and have found a website that supplies one for every day of the year. Sometimes they are wonderfully contradictory. But everyone seems to agree that if it’s fine in January we’ll pay for it later. So here’s my chosen one:
Dieu te garde d’un bon janvier – God protect you from a good January.
He’s doing pretty well so far.
Whatever the weather, may you have a peaceful, prosperous and healthy 2013.
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