Posted by: Sam Tanner | July 23, 2010

Do you think I’ll need my sunglasses? A guide to the British weather

Yes, the weather may have said that it will remain sunny all day, but as you take shelter under a tree praying that the driving rain won’t make your white t shirt see through, you can’t quite help thinking that you should have been better prepared.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone, the weather catches absolutely everybody out at one stage or another. Why do you think the tourist shops sell umbrellas alongside sunglasses and jumpers? The UK is a country of weather, we have a lot of it. We don’t just have sunny days or rainy days, we have windy days, snowy days, cloudy days, thundery days and my personal favourite ‘mild days’. We have descriptions for weather no one else knew existed, no wonder those visiting are so confused.

The position of the UK separated from Europe, the world’s largest land mass and in the Atlantic, allows convergence between moist sea air and dry continental air. This means that there is often large temperature variation which creates instability. This influences the unsettled weather experienced, where many different types of weather can be experienced in a single day.

Welcome to the UK!

So how do you keep yourself prepared? These are a few hints that should help you in understanding how weather shapes the country and the people. It should also help you to stay more prepared should the weather suddenly change.


Wherever you are in the UK and at whatever time of year, there is always a risk that it will rain. The images of a ‘great British summer’ are sometimes complete wishful thinking. Although we do have beautiful summer days lazing around and eating barbecued food, these are quite rare, which is why you will always find a rush on at the local supermarket if it turns out ‘quite nice’. You will need to carry an umbrella around with you at all times.


If it’s sunny, enjoy it. The UK is an absolutely beautiful country when the sun is out, full of shades of green. However, it is also quite deceptive in the summer so carry around sun cream as the sun will be stronger than you think. In the winter clear sunny days can actually make it feel much colder, so it is advisable to wrap up warm. Ignore those who put the top down on their convertibles at the slightest glimmer of sunshine – they are mad.


I’ll exclude Scotland for this one as they are far ahead of England for this aspect of weather delights. In England, if snow settles on the ground anything above an inch, absolutely everything will come to a halt. You won’t be able to get anywhere. Trains will be delayed or cancelled, buses won’t get up hills, motorways will come to a standstill, schools will be closed and businesses will complain that their staff can’t get in. If you are visiting from countries such as Canada or Switzerland, you are allowed to laugh, it’s fine we understand.

Heat waves

Drink lots of water and avoid the tube in London. Don’t worry it will rain in a couple of days.

Showery weather

Buy a waterproof mac and make a run for it. You can never predict showery weather, but office workers will tell you that showers are more prevalent between 12 and 1 on weekdays.

No weather

If you head outside and it’s a bit overcast, no wind, no rain and it appears that there’s no temperature this is one of the weird ‘no weather’ days. Sometimes it will just stay like that all day for no reason. We don’t know why it happens, it just does and gives those who love to chat about rain or sun absolutely nothing to go on.

So there you have it, the key to avoiding weird weather in the UK is to be prepared. Unfortunately we can’t offer guaranteed sunshine like the Med, but it is fun nonetheless!

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