Memories of 1976!

It suddenly occurred to me that this summer in my area of Surrey has been remarkably dry. Its impact though has been reduced by the very wet 2012 and an adequate supply of rain during the winter and spring. But I thought that it would be interesting to compare it with the infamous hot, dry summer of 1976 and if we take the period June 1st to August 16th I have recorded 64.7mm of rain this year. Perhaps rather surprisingly a nearby weather station measured 65mm in 1976 during the same time span.

Back in 1976 both the previous winter and spring had been much drier than average and the lack of rain had been compounded by a sustained spell of high temperatures and almost unbroken sunshine in late June and the first half of July. About this time in August 1976 an emergency Drought Act was passed and soon after Denis Howell was made Minister of Drought and he revealed a potent weapon in beating the drought—a brick in the cistern. His appointment worked too as the heavens opened in late August and the autumn was one of the wettest on record and he became known as Minister for Rain.

Two years later in February 1978 after an epic snowstorm that paralysed the West Country Denis Howell was again allotted the task of battling with the elements and made Minister of Snow. It did the trick once more and a thaw ensued a few days later.