Weather in Wales
The Welsh Climate
The truth about the weather in Wales!
Wales shares with Manchester, England, a reputation for being wet. In Manchester's case the reputation is largely unjustified, but most of Wales gets an awful lot of rain.
Of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, Wales has the highest average rainfall. It boasts the wettest inhabited place in the UK, eight of the wettest towns, and the wettest city. The average yearly rainfall in the City of Swansea ranges from 43 inches at The Mumbles, and 48 inches in the city centre, to 56 inches in its northernmost suburbs such as Ynysforgan. The City of Cardiff is roughly 15 percent drier. In north Wales, Blaenau Ffestiniog, famous for its slate quarries and slate-grey skies, is second only to Fort William (Scotland) for rain amongst Britain's towns, with an annual average of 79 inches - more than twice what Manchester gets. The eastern flank of Snowdon is amongst the wettest places in the country, with a yearly average of at least 180 inches.
Given Wales's hilly character, and exposure to the prevailing south-westerly winds, which bring so much of the UK's rain, these statistics are hardly surprising. But to the lee of the hills - in what is known as a "rain shadow" region - there are some fairly small areas of markedly low rainfall. Less that 30 inches falls on average along the north Wales coast from Llandudno to the Dee estuary, throughout the Vale of Clwyd, and around Wrexham, Buckley and Shotton. At Rhyl the long-term mean is 25.8 inches, and at Hawarden Bridge (just across the river Dee from Chester) it is just 24.3 inches - about the same as London and Norwich.
This north-eastern quarter, remote from the tempering influences of the Atlantic Ocean, is also home to the most extreme temperature readings recorded in Wales. On December 13, 1981, the mercury sank to minus 23°C, while the blistering sunshine that saw records tumbling across most other parts of the UK in early August 1990 saw a record established for Wales, too: 35.2°C at Hawarden Bridge on August 2. The north Wales coast has also seen some extraordinary out-of-season heat waves, thanks to the föhn effect whereby warm moist air blowing across Snowdonia dries out and warms further as it descends the lee slope. Thus Aber, near Llandudno, has recorded 18.3°C in January and 21.3°C in November.
(Source: Philip Ebden in The Daily Telegraph 29 May 1999).