Mixed weather set to continue in June

The public take advantage of the sun in the Peace Gardens, Sheffield
The public take advantage of the sun in the Peace Gardens, Sheffield
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It feels like a long time since we had a proper summer - and that doesn’t look like changing in 2013.

While the forecast for this month doesn’t look as bad as last year - which, according to Sheffield’s Weston Park weather station, was the fourth wettest June since records began in 1882 - forecasters are predicting the current trend of unsettled weather to continue.

That, experts say, is largely down to the jet stream, the band of wind that usually travels across the Atlantic from west to east, which is perched over the UK in a lower than usual position, and which is bringing often rather cool and wet weather.

Edward Hanna, professor in climate change in the Geography department at Sheffield University, said the re-positioning of the jet stream had caused a run of wetter than usual summers in the UK since 2007.

“Since our short-term weather is tremendously variable, you can’t look at climate change over a week or even a month - you’ve got to look at it over a number of years,” he said.

“In the last six years we’ve been experiencing a run of rather cool, wetter than normal summers, because the jet stream has tended to become stuck in a rut.”

One theory is that the jet stream is being pushed south by melting ice from the Arctic, caused by climate change.

Global warming, which Professor Hanna says has been ‘strong’ in Sheffield over the last century, also means warmer seas, which in turn mean more water evaporating causing heavier rainfall when it does come.

The jet stream is also to blame for a cold start to the year, which has impacted on seasonal businesses.

Mark Collins, owner of the Dore Moor Garden Centre on Hathersage Road, Sheffield, said sales had been hit by the cold snap.

“We bought the business in June 2011, and then 2012 was the wettest on record!” he said.

“The start to this year has been bad too with the cold weather. People just don’t want to be out in their garden when it’s freezing.

“But we’re starting to recover now. All the weather has done really is delay things slightly.”

Rosita Hunt, owner of Sheffield ice cream firm Granelli’s, said her industry had suffered.

“We had the miracle of two nice bank holiday weekends in May, but last week the schools were off and only Friday was nice,” she said.

“Last year was horrendous too. It’s the rain rather than the cold weather that affects us.

“One can only hope for better weather this summer.”

This week will see the continuation of a mix of sunshine and cloud.

Dandelions thrive in ‘unusual’ weather

The common dandelion is one of many plants currently prospering thanks to the late arrival of spring-like weather, according to an expert.

Sheffield-based Professor Ian Rotherham says the plant, which is often the scourge of gardeners across the region, is currently taking top billing after being delayed due to the cold weather.

“What appears to have happened because of the cold weather in the early part of the year is that woodland plants have been delayed and they’re all coming out at once,” said Ian, who also blogs about environmental issues.

“The dandelions look absolutely terrific at the moment and so do the bluebells.”

Ian believes that the next few weeks will see plants at their best.

“It’s only just kicked off over a few weeks,” he said.

“The next thing people will notice is when the seed heads blow off and start swirling around to create a blanket effect,” he said.

“Now though, for a few glorious weeks, they provide a spectacle that we often simply overlook - the beauty of the commonplace.”