People in driest places in England tell of challenges amid rain shortage

People in some of England’s driest areas have explained how the sweltering weather and a shortage of rainfall is impacting their daily lives.

08 August 2022

People living in some of the driest places in England have spoken of the challenges they are facing amid scorching weather and a scarcity of rainfall.

Sizzling heat, exceeding 40C for the first time on record in the UK in July, combined with England’s driest eight months from November to June since 1976, has turned green spaces tinder-dry.

Odiham, a village in Hampshire, had no rain last month, according to the Met Office – with farmers, florists and the local cricket club forced to adapt to the parched conditions.

The Met Office has also identified 10 locations that have experienced less than 250mm of rain since November 2021.

WEATHER Heat Rainfall
(PA Graphics)

They are Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, Wisley, Surrey, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Shoeburyness, Essex, Manston, Kent, Writtle, Essex, Oxford and Kew Gardens, London.

In contrast, on a county level, the average annual rain fall in West Sussex is 891mm, Gloucestershire 839mm and Surrey 780mm, according to the Met Office,

Elsewhere, Oxfordshire averages 702mm, Cambridgeshire 583mm, Essex 594mm, Kent 719mm and Greater London 650mm.

Cara Evans, bar and events manager for the Odiham and Greywell Cricket Club, said grounds officials have had to water the wicket at least once a day to ensure it is safe to play on the hardened ground.

She told the PA news agency: “The drought has meant that we’ve had to water that wicket so much more often than we would normally have to do, and to try and keep it green and safe to play on.”

A local farmer, who did not wish to be named, estimated he has had to spend 50% more on food for his cattle this year compared to 2021.

His cows normally graze on the grass in his fields, but this has been unable to grow in the arid conditions.

Summer weather Aug 8th 2022
Parched grass at the cricket green in the village of Odiham in Hampshire (Ben Birchall/PA)

Elsewhere, Branching Out, a family run florist in Wallingford has been inundated with orders for summer weddings as the nation’s couples rush to get married following the coronavirus backlog.

However, florist Fliss, who gave her age as in her 40s, told the PA that the shop has had to buy smaller deliveries to deal with the heat.

“We usually get quite large deliveries of flowers, but because of the heat we have had to get smaller,” she said.

“(The heat) affects what we buy, we have to be super careful with stock.

“We probably get quarter the amount of flowers, but more regularly than normal.

“We have been very cautious with what we’re buying, so buying things that last longer.”

The shop had several fans running simultaneously amid the 29C heat on Monday afternoon.

“This is for the flowers, not necessarily for us,” Fliss said.

In Writtle, a 65-year-old woman, who declined to be named, added: “I’m worried about wildfires because my son is high up in the fire service… he’s out there in the thick of it.

“He’s been very busy into the night.

“They’re doing the harvesting and everything aren’t they, at the moment?

“So we’re a bit like a tinderbox.”

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