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Which English districts have the most unpredictable summer weather?

With the summer months rapidly approaching, individuals up and down England are eagerly anticipating warmer days, sunnier skies and less frequent downpours. However, British summertime is widely renowned for its unpredictability, leaving many of those seeking to enjoy the season typically disappointed. But which areas of England fare the worst when it comes to unpredictable weather during the summer months? Keen to find out, energy switching site SaveOnEnergy collected official data on various different weather conditions, including rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed, sunshine and temperature. We then analysed the data to find out which English districts suffer from the most unpredictable weather during summer overall and, from this, awarded each district an ‘unpredictability score’ out of 10.

The English districts with the most unpredictable summer weather

When it comes to all of the different weather elements combined, South West England doesn’t fare too well - despite being a popular staycation spot - with nine out of the top 10 districts situated in the region.

We can reveal Somerset West and Taunton have the most unpredictable summer weather in England and, as a result, has an average unpredictability score of 7.7 out of 10. Following closely behind in second is Teignbridge, another South-Western spot situated in Devon. The district has been awarded high unpredictability scores for rainfall and wind speed in our study, resulting in an average total unpredictability score of 7.59 out of 10.

Unsurprisingly West Devon also has the most unpredictable weather in England during summer months, scoring particularly high for unpredictable rainfall during summer. Overall, the district has been awarded an average unpredictability score of 7.35 out of 10 and ranks in third.

Fellow South Western Districts North Somerset and Torridge, based in North Devon, also have some of the most unpredictable summertime weather according to our analysis, recording scores of 7.26 and 7.22 and ranking in fourth and fifth, respectively.

The English districts with the most unpredictable rainfall in summer

According to our analysis, the Copeland District, situated in western Cumbria, has the most unpredictable rainfall in England during summer. The Copeland District has an incredibly high unpredictability score when it comes to rainfall, scoring 9.91 out of 10, suggesting that rainfall during the summer months in this area is highly volatile.

Also situated nearby in Cumbria is the South Lakeland District, which our study discovered to have the second highest unpredictability score when it came to rainfall during summer, scoring 9.83 out of 10. Despite South Lakeland being renowned for having astounding natural beauty that is enjoyed by many during the summer months, the district also falls victim to having the second most unpredictable rainfall in England during this period.

West Devon ranked as having the third most unpredictable summer downpours in England, and has been awarded an unpredictability score of 9.6 out of 10 in our study. It is followed shortly by the Allerdale District and the Eden District, with unpredictability scores of 9.55 and 9.52 out of 10.

The English districts with the most unpredictable relative humidity in summer

When it came down to relative humidity (how much water is in the air compared to how much it could hold at that temperature), East Devon experienced the most volatile conditions during summer and scored 10 out of 10 for unpredictability in the English district.

Somerset West and Taunton have a similarly high unpredictability score when it came to relative humidity, with our study finding that the district suffered the second most unpredictable humidity in England during summer, scoring 9.97 out of 10.

Unsurprisingly Devon featured once again as one of the districts with the most unpredictable summer humidity. Mid Devon has been awarded a relative humidity unpredictability score of 9.94 out of 10, followed closely behind by fellow South Western districts Exeter and the City of Plymouth, scoring 9.91 and 9.88, respectively.

The English districts with the most unpredictable wind speed in summer

The English District with the most unpredictable wind speed during summer months is Gosport, as the district has been awarded an unpredictability score of 10 out of 10. Neighbouring district, the City of Portsmouth, followed closely behind with a windspeed unpredictability score of 9.97.

The County of Herefordshire ranked as the English district with the third least predictable wind speed in summer, scoring 9.91 out of 10 when measured for unpredictability.

Fareham, a close neighbour of Gosport and Portsmouth, has the fourth most unpredictable wind speed during the summer season, with an unpredictability score of 9.85.

The English districts with the most unpredictable sunshine in summer

The sunshine, which is arguably one of the most highly anticipated parts of summer, is the most unpredictable in the Hastings District, situated in the South East of England. As a result, the district has been awarded a sunshine unpredictability score of 9.94 out of 10. Thanet in Kent, also situated in the South East, has a high sunshine unpredictability score (9.91), making it one of the least reliable places in England for sunshine throughout June, July, and August.

South Gloucestershire, based in the South West, is also among the English districts suffering from the most unpredictable sunshine during summer, generating an unpredictability score of 9.83. This means the district is home to the third least predictable sunshine in England from June through to August.

The English districts with the most unpredictable temperature in summer

Another aspect of summer that Brits eagerly anticipate are the warm temperatures, however, these temperatures are incredibly unpredictable in certain parts of England. Our analysis found the popular seaside destination Southend-On-Sea has the most unpredictable temperature in England during the summer months, scoring 10 out of 10 for unpredictability.

The English district with the second most unpredictable temperatures during summer is the Bassetlaw District, situated in Nottinghamshire. The district has been awarded a temperature unpredictability score of 9.97 out of 10 for its summertime temperatures, followed by Canterbury with a score of 9.94.

Methodology:

1. To begin the study, climate data from weather stations interpolated over the UK at a 5km resolution was collected from the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis. SaveOnEnergy collected monthly climate observations (2001 - 2016) alongside monthly long-term averages (1971 - 2000) from the UKCP09 Met Office datasets.

2. Climate variables collected include:

  • sunshine hours,

  • rainfall,

  • average temperature,

  • wind speed,

  • relative humidity

3. To only analyse weather for the summer months, the climate observation data was filtered to only include June, July, and August.

4. In order to reverse geocode the coordinates for the variables collected in step 1 we used the Boundary-Line dataset from the Ordnance Survey. District level boundaries were used as they offered the most granularity. A spatial join was performed to map the coordinates to the district boundaries.

5. The datasets were then aggregated by district and merged.

6. The difference between the long-term average and the observed values were used to calculate the root mean squared error (RMSE) for each variable. The RMSE helps us measure the volatility/unpredictability of the weather variables against their historical averages. Note that comparison to historical averages is more a reflection of volatility than it is of unpredictability. However, it could be argued that volatility is a potential cause of unpredictability. Therefore, this method is justified. A better approach may have involved comparing historical forecasts to observed values, but we were not able to source historical forecasts.

7. Each variable's RMSE was then ranked and totalled to give us a total unpredictability/volatility score out of 10 for each district. This was achieved by adding the score out of 10 for each together dividing it by five (to account for the five variables) to find an average score.