I could sum up this winter’s weather in one word. But it’s not repeatable in polite company, so I’ll try to do it in a more measured way. The SF (Statistics Freak – my husband) is the brains behind the figures. In addition to his monthly analysis, he produces an annual assessment of the four months November to February.
Every month I post an update on how the weather has been in our corner of southwest France, based on the statistics we have kept since 1998. To see the other weather posts, please click on ‘Weather’ under the Topics tab in the right-hand sidebar.
Everyone is thoroughly fed up with this winter. Had it not been for a brief sunny truce towards the end of February, we would all have been slitting our wrists by now. It’s been grey, gloomy and damp – but not particularly cold, although it has snowed at least seven times since 1st January. Apparently the elderly country folk have been saying it would snow seven times and it appears they were right. Once we are into March, snow is a rare event, although not unknown.
Overall assessment of winter
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. This is the 15th year for which we have kept these statistics.
This winter (Nov-Feb) was definitely the worst over that period. Twenty-three percent of days were pluses, 27% were zeros and 50% were minuses. So, half the time it was miserable weather. The only year that comes close is 2009-10, which had fewer pluses (22%) but also fewer minuses (48%).
On the chart below, the bar marked 15 is this winter; the bar marked 16 is the average. The yellow part represents the minuses, the red the zeros and the purple the pluses (sorry, I can’t seem to get these charts to reproduce clearly on WordPress).
Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. Since January 1st, we have had above average rainfall: a total of 217.5 mm compared with the 138.6 mm we would normally expect on average (i.e. 57% more). It has rained on 34 days compared with the average of 21 days.
On the chart below, the purple bar is the actual, the red bar is the average.
For the four winter months, the totals are 384 mm compared with the average of 291.1 mm for that period, i.e. nearly a third more than average.
So it’s been a wet winter. And we needed the rain. But perhaps not all at once.
Because it has been damp and not very cold we have had fewer frost nights than we would expect. To date, we have had 35 frost nights; last year in total we had 45 and in 2011 and 2010 we had 57 and 58 respectively. We normally get a few in March but, even so, it’s unlikely to add up to the tally of recent years.
Here’s a dicton (saying) for March:
Février remplit les fossés, mars les vide. (February fills the ditches ; March empties them.)
Since rain is forecast later in the week until at least the middle of next week, this seems unlikely.
Despite all this, the signs of spring are there. Buds are appearing on trees and shrubs; the celandines were flowering in the warm sunshine on Sunday afternoon; and I saw the first violets of the year, demurely bending their necks near the hedge I was clearing and miraculously escaping being trampled upon. The cuckoo arrives in a few weeks’ time, with the rest of the summer visitors hot on its tail. They might regret it to start with but we don’t.
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