Scotland weather: are summers getting wetter because of climate change?

It’s been a particularly rainy summer this year, with Scotland having suffered flooding, landslides, power cuts and road and rail closures due to heavy rain in July and August.

Friday, 23rd August 2019, 8:04 am
Updated Friday, 23rd August 2019, 9:04 am
Summer 2019 has been wetter than usual in Scotland. (Picture: Shutterstock)

But as climate change continues to wreak havoc with our weather, can we expect to see even wetter summers in the future?

How rainy has this summer been?

According to the Met Office, Scotland has experienced 108% of its average summer rainfall already, and we’ve not yet reached the end of August.

Summer 2019 has been wetter than usual in Scotland. (Picture: Shutterstock)

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Spectacular images show thunderstorms and flooding in Scotland

So far, this summer, we’ve had an average of 375.4mm of precipitation, which is well above the 305mm average, however, this amount of rain is unlikely to break any records - it’s still well behind the record of 1985, which saw 455.6mm of precipitation.

As usual, August has been the wettest summer month for Scotland, with an average of 116.7mm of rainfall, which is almost 40% of the total average for the summer months.

And we’ve had 125% of our average August rainfall already - with parts of eastern Scotland having seen 142% of its expected wet weather for the month.

Flash flooding is set to increase as rainfall patterns change in the future. (Picture: Shutterstock)

What damage has the rain done?

Torrential rain has caused problems across the country this year, with some notable examples such as the flooding of Winchburgh Tunnel, which connects Edinburgh and Glasgow with a railway line.

There were more rail disruptions as 200 passengers were rescued from three trains stranded near Bishopton after overhead power lines were damaged.

There was a landslide in Langholm, Dumfries & Galloway, which disrupted travel in the south of the country and in some areas in the north, such as Moray, enough rain fell in the space of just three hours to cover the average for the entire month of August, causing disruption to traffic.

In Inverness firefighters had to pump water out of flooded homes, while people were leaving vehicles on roads in Dunfermline and Fife, where two feet of water prevented them from driving any further.

And farmers are concerned that the quality of their crops has been affected by the bad weather this year.

Will Scotland get wetter summers in future?

While it seems like summers are getting wetter each year, the trend is actually the opposite.

Although annual rainfall may increase, rainfall in the summer is actually expected to reduce as experts predict hotter, drier summers in the future.

Met Office climate spokesman Grahame Madge, said: “By the end of the century, it is likely that most parts of Scotland will experience reduced rainfall in summer.

“This figure holds true even if there is a dramatic cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The size of the rainfall reduction depends strongly on region, with the largest reductions in the central areas of Scotland, and relatively small reductions over the western Islands.”

While the volume of rainfall is set to reduce, we’re also likely to see changes in the types of rainfall we get, according to Madge.

He says: “Rainfall during the summer is expected to become more intense and happen in more confined bursts.

“So less gentle summer rain but perhaps more intense bursts of rain – leading to flash flooding during the more intense episodes – but overall the average rainfall in summer is expected to be lower than now.”

He adds that in line with these projections for summer, we’re also likely to see hotter, but wetter winters in the future.