We spent the first six months of this year complaining that we had too much rain. Now we’re complaining that we are having too little. It has barely rained for about six weeks and the weather has been dry, hot, sunny and windy. The picture above shows our lawn, which crackles when you walk across it. Even the weeds aren’t growing. I haven’t mown for well over a month.
We are fortunate to have a well 12 metres deep and a large citerne with a capacity of around 60 cubic metres. Even so, we have run the well dry by pumping up water for watering our plants. The level in the citerne is quite low, too – not least because we forgot to switch off the pump one day.
This is nothing compared with 2003, when it hardly rained between June and September and temperatures were in the upper thirties centigrade for three months. We always had running water, but certain villages had to get theirs from standpipes. Nonetheless, the vegetation is now showing obvious signs of distress, some of our trees are losing their leaves and the hillsides are looking decidedly autumnal.
As I drove through our village this afternoon, I had to stop for a convoy of fire engines which were heading for the causse, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring. I wondered if there was a brush fire, which are bound to flare up when the scrub is so dry.
We have noticed a weather pattern emerging. The first six months of the year are often gloomy and damp, while the latter six are regularly dry and sunny. There was no rain at all in December last year, right up to New Year’s Eve.
I haven’t posted the weather stats for a couple of months, so I’m in trouble with the SF, the resident statistician. To mollify him, here they are.
Weather in July and August
We give each day a subjective ranking: plus, zero or minus, equating to good, indifferent or bad. In July, we had:
August was pretty similar, with:
We’ve been doing this for 19 years, so we now have quite a body of data about weather patterns over time. The charts show the proportion of pluses each July and August since 1998.
This July was one of the better ones: only six have been better and one the same. August was definitely in the upper league, with only three better and one the same.
In July, in keeping with the rest of the year to date, the rainfall was higher than average, with 63 mm as opposed to the 49.5 mm we would normally expect.
In August, however, the picture changed completely. We would normally expect 65.8 mm, since it’s usually a month with a lot of thunder storms. This year we had only 13 mm – no thunderstorms.
The total rainfall for the year so far is still above the average: 712.5 mm compared with the average of 590 mm. So we have a bit of margin. But if it goes on like this with unseasonably hot and dry weather, which is quite possible, we could have water supply problems. We have to remember, though, that before the wells were sunk, the inhabitants of this house had to walk more than a kilometre to a stream for water – and then lug it back.
French weather lore
Let’s see what French people said about a dry August in bygone days:
Août sans pluie fait maigrir la vache (An August without rain makes a skinny cow).
Judging by what the cows have to eat in the field behind us, this prophecy may well come to pass.
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