Met Office explains why NI's unsettled weather is set to continue

The Met Office forecast for Wednesday, July 10 2024 at 1pm
-Credit: (Image: Met Office)

With Northern Ireland set for a largely wet few days after Monday afternoon's burst of sunshine, we asked the Met Office why we are getting so much rain. According to the national forecast service both the jet stream and climate change can both play a part in conditions, with former having a prominent impact of late.

Their provisional June figures found last month started the meteorological summer on a cool note, despite a late warm spell. Looking to the first week of July, the cool theme continued with frequent cloud cover and rain subduing the weather for many.

Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist David Hayter says the jet stream is playing a prominent role in the underlying patterns behind this trend. He added: "The position of the jet stream, which is a ribbon of air high up in the atmosphere, is often the driving force behind the weather we experience in the UK.

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"Just small shifts in the position of the jet stream can lead to big differences in the weather we experience on the ground. In recent weeks, the jet stream has been either directed towards the UK, or shifted further south, which has predominantly brought cooler air over the UK, with frequent incursions of some unseasonable winds and rain.

"For warm weather in the UK in summer, you'd tend to see the jet stream shifted further north, which allows the possibility of warmer air to drift over the UK from the south, though this isn't always the case. Unfortunately for those who like the warmth, we have only had brief periods where this pattern has been present in summer so far."

We asked the Met Office if climate change is also playing a part when it comes to recent, intense rainfall in some areas.

Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said: "With a warming climate we can expect to see more frequent and heavier downpours in summer as a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. The UK does have a variable climate so it is not unusual to have wet and cooler spells during summer and although climate projections show that summers in the UK will generally become hotter and drier, this doesn’t mean every summer will be hotter and drier, there will always be natural variability.

"This spell of weather is being driven by the position of the jet stream, exposing us to more unsettled weather as it has either been over the UK or to the south. This allows cooler air with influence of low pressure bringing wind and rain at times."

He also said the wet start to July "is not particularly notable compared to the past".

"When looking at the summer, the UK has actually had below average rainfall so far, though there are regional differences for example in north western Scotland."

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