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Climate in England

The English themselves joke that when two Englishmen meet, the first thing they’ll talk about and at great length, is how bad the weather is for the time of year! It’s true that few visitors head to England for its weather. Whatever you believe about global warming, in centuries past England’s climate was much warmer than it is today and the country was a major wine producer in the earlier mediaeval period. Today the climate is a typical north-Atlantic one, offering highly unpredictable weather for most of the year. Grey, wet, windy and distinctly chilly days here can happen at almost any time of the year. Summers are therefore unreliable and can be regularly “washed out” as the locals say. In London and the south, harsh winters in terms of lots of snow and ice are rare, though it can be very cold. It’s not unknown for the odd hot week or two in summer (called a ‘heatwave’) but that too is rare. More commonly in summer, a couple of good days will be followed by two cloudy and cooler ones and then another nice day – and so on. In northern England, winters can be much more severe and particularly over higher ground, conditions can be appalling. Weather forecasts are widely held in contempt by most English people as being “a complete waste of time” due to their regular inaccuracy. Whenever you’re visiting, it would be prudent to bring a variety of clothing to cope with the highly variable weather and particularly a waterproof jacket and umbrella. A Withlocals local tour guide can offer further season-specific advice.

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Seasons and temperatures in England

In summer in and around London and southern England, temperatures are highly unpredictable. Some days might touch 30celsius or a little higher then two days later it can be 15celsius (say 86F/59F). Those swings can continue for weeks, changing every few days.

Hot days in London often come with higher humidity and after a few such days, a storm is commonplace, though they are rarely severe.

In southern England, spring is often slightly more reliable and gentle warmth starts to return in early April, though numerous rainy days are predictable and English flowers are regularly hit by late frosts – to the outrage of English gardeners through the centuries! Autumn (fall) is also sometimes slightly more predictable again than summer and September is often one of the better months of the year for temperatures and sunshine.

Winters in southern England rarely see heavy and long-lasting snowfall these days. When it does snow, it tends to last only for a few days before a thaw arrives and it goes. As touched on above, the position in northern England can be significantly different where heavy snow can fall and stay for weeks. Temperatures can fall to -15Celsius (5F). Do be exceptionally careful in the wild hills, valleys and higher ground of northern England. The countryside is beautiful and fantastic for hiking but the weather from October to May (and even outside that period) can change dramatically and very quickly. It can be highly dangerous for those who are not equipped with appropriate clothing and expertise. Fatalities arise every year as a result, so don’t go hill walking in late fall, winter or early spring, without expert local advice.

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