Weather Records Shattered–180 Years Ago


By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness


Britain has been battered by floods and parched by drought in recent years – but our Victorian ancestors didn’t escape weather extremes.

A project digitising the Met Office’s weather archive has found that several records, particularly those for dry weather, were set much earlier than previously thought.

Scientists at the University of Reading asked the public for help digitally transcribing 130 year’s worth of handwritten rainfall observations from across the UK and Ireland.

Thousands of volunteers in the “Rainfall Rescue” project studied records from between 1677 and 1960, based on rain gauges located in almost every town and village across England and Wales.

Records go as far back as 1836

The project, launched in March 2020, has extended the rainfall data available in the official Met Office national record, meaning it now goes back to 1836 rather than 1862.

New records include England’s driest May, originally thought to be May 2020 but now believed to be May 1844, when the country saw just 8.3mm of rain.

The overall driest year on record, previously thought to be 1887, is now recorded as 1855.

November and December 1852 were also exceptionally wet months, with the year seeing the wettest November on record for many regions in southern England.

1852 was also the wettest year overall for parts of the UK including Oxfordshire, where there was significant flooding.

The year’s floods were known as the “Duke of Wellington floods” as they coincided with the military hero’s funeral in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Rainfall methodically recorded 

Victorian “observers” methodically chronicled the weather, with rainfall particularly important because of its impact on crops and food supplies.

Britain’s Victorian ancestors also endured weather extremes, with the Royal Suspension Chain Pier in Brighton destroyed during a storm in 1896 CREDIT: Digital Vision Vectors

Rainfall has been monitored systematically in the UK since the 1860s, when George Symons established the British Rainfall Organisation, later absorbed into the Met Office, but most records made before 1960 were still in paper form.

The 65,000 paper records held in the Met Office National Meteorological Archive were scanned during 2019 and many were written in ornate handwriting meaning humans were needed to transcribe.

Professor Ed Hawkins, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, said he had expected the project to take months but high levels of interest from the public meant it was completed in days.

He said: “A lot of the dry records that we’ve got have been rewritten, and that’s purely because our climate is getting wetter now.

“Just like all the cold records are back in the past, it’s the same with the dry records, because the climate’s got wetter.

“Most of the wet records are more recent – the exception to that was 1852 which was an extremely wet November, and I’m sure at the time they wondered what was going on.

“That would be a stand-out month for that period. Now it wouldn’t look so unusual.”

The UK’s average temperature is thought to have risen by 1.5C since the pre-industrial period, he said, and the extra data “helps us better understand the long-term trends towards the dramatic changes we’re seeing today”.

There is nothing surprising about any of this, because we see similar trends in the England & Wales Rainfall Series, which dates back to 1766.

However Hawkins is being extremely devious and dishonest, when he claims:

“A lot of the dry records that we’ve got have been rewritten, and that’s purely because our climate is getting wetter now.

“Just like all the cold records are back in the past, it’s the same with the dry records, because the climate’s got wetter”

It is true that the UK is wetter on average:

But this is largely due to Scotland. In England, the long term average has changed little since the 1870s:

The major change is that drought years are very much a thing of the past, which in turn pushes up the average. This does not mean England’s climate is becoming more extreme, quite the contrary.

Now consider this Hawkins claim:

 “Most of the wet records are more recent”

When we actually examine the data, we find it is not only baseless, but grossly misleading.

Since 2002, only one year, 2012, makes it into the ten wettest.

And in terms of wettest months, only two months occurred in the last decade, January 2014 and February 2020. Given that there have been 29 months over 150mm since 1836, this is close to average:


There certainly have been much more extreme interludes. For instance the 1860s, when three months made the list. Unquestionably the most extreme decade though was the 1910s, with five such months – 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915 and 1918.

1929 was also a remarkable year, with November and December receiving 173mm and 163mm of rainfall respectively.

The wettest month in recent years was November 2009, with 170mm. But that was only the sixth wettest month on record. By far the wettest was October 1903, with 191mm.

By every measure Hawkins claims don’t stand up to scrutiny, for England at least. It may be that rainfall is now more extreme in Scotland, but it is dishonest to pretend that the whole country is similarly affected.

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Tom Halla
March 27, 2022 6:31 am

Just wait until the records get revised.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 27, 2022 7:59 am

Are there also temperature records from 1830, or is it only rainfall records?
I would like to see the temperature records too.

Last edited 1 year ago by
Tom Abbott
March 27, 2022 9:53 am

Railroads recorded the temperatures at every railroad station.

Railroads have been around for a very long time.

If there are any written records perhaps the same could be done for this railroad temperature data.

I don’t know how it was done in the UK, but in the United States, the temperatures were recorded four times a day at midnight, 6am, 12 noon and 6pm at each railroad station and then the readings were communicated to the central dispatcher who wrote these numbers down on his trainsheet.

These readings would be written down on a trainsheet that the train dispatcher kept daily. There’s a possiblity these trainsheets are still in existence.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 27, 2022 9:13 am

Rulers were different back then (yes, you can read the double entendre for “rulers”). We must apply a correction factor to ensure the data fits the narrative. /sarc

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 27, 2022 9:41 am

Thank you to Mr. Homewood for providing the data link.
I had a look at the spectral response for the England data, a bit of a hochpoch below 20 or so years, but there are two higher periodicity of interest (see attached diagram)
The 65 or so years it could be the AMO (190 years of data, just about enough to identify 60+ years component), but I was intrigued by origin of the ~45 year periodicity.
I searched through dozens and dozens of spectral graphs on my desktop, and could not find any, but noticed something odd with the inversion of McCracken’s B10’s spectrum .
Sunspot cycle enthusiasts will recognise name of the Aussie NASA’s scientist who compiled B10 records.
B10 intensity  is inversely proportional to solar activity (here it’s inverted), so one could be tempted to say ‘it’s sun stupid’.
Sort of confirmation of the Svensmark’s hypothesis
(B10 is a metric for cosmic rays intensity. ‘When CR enter the atmosphere, their electric charge helps form clusters of molecules – aerosols – that in turn act as seeds, or nuclei, for water droplets to condense around, creating clouds’.)

Smart Rock
Reply to  Vuk
March 27, 2022 11:44 am

Thank you Vuk for another interesting parallel between two “unrelated” data sets that no one else seems to notice.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Vuk
March 27, 2022 4:58 pm


For Svensmark to be correct, the cosmic ray flux would have to be intense enough to fry us.

Reply to  Burl Henry
March 28, 2022 1:51 pm

Cosmic rays don’t make it through the upper atmosphere.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 29, 2022 5:58 am

Paging Jim Hansen. Paging Jim Hansen.

Burl Henry
March 27, 2022 6:37 am

What is all of the excitement about historical weather records? They can teach us nothing about current or future conditions, except that the weather changes (with the changes being driven by changing levels of Sulfur Dioxide aerosols in the atmosphere from random volcanic or Industrial emissions.

Reply to  Burl Henry
March 27, 2022 7:01 am

It’s not so much excitement as it is evidence that current conditions are not so unusual and future conditions can certainly behave similarly to past conditions.

Reply to  Burl Henry
March 27, 2022 7:40 am

What they tell us is that there is nothing unusual about current weather patterns. Which puts the lie to the oft repeated claims that CO2 is making weather more extreme.

Burl Henry
Reply to  MarkW
March 27, 2022 8:31 am


Good point!

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Burl Henry
March 27, 2022 9:24 am

The entire game of the climate Scientologists is to try and state that everything today is unprecedented.
This is no different from producing a hockey stick and stating it’s now the hottest time in human civilization, which is an obvious lie

Burl Henry
Reply to  Burl Henry
March 27, 2022 4:50 pm

Wow! 26 down votes (so far)

It must be largely because of my comments regarding SO2 aerosols regulating our weather (and climate).

It is a fact that SO2 aerosols from EVERY VEI4 or larger volcanic eruption results in a decrease in average anomalous global temperatures, with most causing enough of a temperature drop in ENSO temperatures to form a La Nina (on average, within in about 16 months).

And when their aerosols eventually settle out (within about 18-24 months), ENSO temperatures rise, often enough to form an El Nino.

The magnitude of those changes (in addition to changing SO2 aerosol levels from industrial activity) so closely matches actual temperatures that there is no room for any other source of warming or cooling, such as from greenhouse gasses, sunspot activity, cosmic rays, or other imagined cycles

March 27, 2022 6:38 am

Oh dear

Usually the BBC and the Met office say records began in 1910

The Met Office holds rainfall records going back to 1910. “

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Reply to  fretslider
March 27, 2022 7:06 am

I wonder why they chose 1910. Perhaps it was to hide the range of extremes from the latter part of the 19th century.

Usually their cherry picking begins or ends at some particular extreme.

Reply to  Scissor
March 27, 2022 7:54 am

It fits the narrative, or rather it did

Interestingly, now the BBC says…

“The UK now has a dense grid of rainfall readings stretching back to 1836. Previously, it was only to 1862”

So what happened to 1910?

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Leonard Weinstein
Reply to  fretslider
March 27, 2022 12:37 pm

1910 had an unusually low temperature (compared to both time before and time after) so picking it as a start point biased the trend since.-classic cherry picking.

Reply to  fretslider
March 27, 2022 10:33 pm

To be fair the Stevenson Screen weather station only came into fashion in the late 1860s and Australia only had a reasonable rollout by 1910. Presumably Britai’s rollout was earlier but of course rain gauges pre-dated them by many years out of interest in crop yields-
Stevenson Screen |
1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2005 (
Naturally it’s convenient for the climate changers to want to ignore any weather records before that in order to keep up their record panic meme when it’s really a pitifully short record anyway. The longer rain record isn’t good news for the weather worriers as it puts their hysterics into greater perspective.

Teddy Lee
March 27, 2022 7:03 am

Well done Jim lad,you have been awarded the March Wadhams prize.

March 27, 2022 7:04 am

Records back to 1677, now those should be interesting. They should have published those too, obviously stating provisos about the fewer number of records available. Only back to 1836 isn’t really that Earth shattering.

Ron Long
March 27, 2022 7:11 am

The Records don’t matter because I FEEL like we’re going to die in a burning hell on earth…wait a minute..I now know we’re going in floods, you know, a Noah’s Arc kind of deal.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Ron Long
March 27, 2022 1:01 pm

So to “die in a burning hell” would be a Joan of Ark kind of deal?

Reply to  Ron Long
March 27, 2022 6:21 pm

Get a grip.

Reply to  Ron Long
March 28, 2022 1:52 pm

How many degrees is Noah’s arc?

March 27, 2022 7:22 am

So, we push back weather data by 180 years and find that records were set. What would happen if we could push weather data back by 500 years. Of course there would be records.

All the evidence we have, other than Dr. Mann’s fraudulent* claims, is that natural variability prevails.

*Because Mann avoided presenting evidence under his control in his lawsuit against Tim Ball, we may infer that he does indeed belong in state pen, not Penn State.

Reply to  commieBob
March 27, 2022 7:45 am

Not so breaking news, Michael Mann will be joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania as, “Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science.”

Penn is the Ivy League university that can’t tell that a male swimmer is a male, even though he swam on their men’s team for 3 years. He was a good swimmer as a male, competing against females he’s a record setting swimmer that doesn’t lose.

You thought Mann was a liar at Penn State, you should prepare for whoppers of Ivy League proportions.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Scissor
March 27, 2022 8:14 am

And lest we forget, Mikey is the Jerry Sandusky of all things climate.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Scissor
March 27, 2022 10:09 am

Oklahoma just passed a law that bans males from competing in female sports.

I think a lot of States are passing laws like that.

It’s time for the NCAA to wake up and smell the coffee and also ban males from competing against females.

This stupidity is destroying women’s sports.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Abbott
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 27, 2022 10:30 am

On the other hand, feminists have been claiming for some time that there is no difference between men and women. Although, the creation of sports events excluding men has been an implied admission the claim was not true, at least with respect to physical abilities. One might reasonably claim that militant feminists bear some culpability for “destroying women’s sports.”

“Be careful what you wish for, because you might have your wish granted.”

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 27, 2022 12:32 pm

It gets stupider. I heard some benighted moron claiming that women’s sports were created to protect men from being out-competed. You have to protect our fragile egos dontchaknow.

Reply to  commieBob
March 27, 2022 6:10 pm


Janice Moore
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 27, 2022 12:42 pm

Some feminists may have. MOST are reasonably intelligent, thus, have not been claiming there is no biological difference between a woman and a man.

All a feminist (in many ways, I am one) wants is the opportunity to compete. If she is good enough to make the “boys team” and there is no corresponding “girls team,” she should be allowed to play.

MOSTLY, “feminists” urge that there should be a corresponding women’s league/team so that women can experience “the thrill of victory” (and “the agony of defeat”).

And, for one, this “feminist” is a woman who “enjoys being a ‘girl.'” (just so you don’t think that all “feminists” want to be like men)

“I Enjoy Being a Girl” performed by Nancy Kwan (pub. on youtube)

And we ALSO love to drive fast and play basketball! 😀

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 27, 2022 1:12 pm

Trying the embed code to get the youtube video publish as a control window.


Last edited 1 year ago by Janice Moore
Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 27, 2022 1:15 pm

What’s weird (this has happened to me before) is that this code (used by me at 12:42pm today) WORKS on the “Test” thread…

Edit: ! And now it works on THIS thread! (AFTER I put this line above the video link — thus, key = no text after video link — even if not on same line — I’m not deleting all this because it may help some other commenter)

Last edited 1 year ago by Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 27, 2022 6:26 pm


Janice Moore
Reply to  Denise
March 27, 2022 7:19 pm


Reply to  Janice Moore
March 27, 2022 6:13 pm


Janice Moore
Reply to  Denise
March 27, 2022 7:25 pm

This site isn’t only about “climate change.”

There are thread digressions on WUWT on nearly a daily basis.
Why did you choose to make a BIG DEAL (lol) out of Mr. Abbott’s?

Also, why do you think your age is relevant?

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 27, 2022 6:19 pm


Reply to  Janice Moore
March 27, 2022 8:32 pm

Yeah, everyone knows about the driving thing.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 27, 2022 6:16 pm


Reply to  Denise
March 28, 2022 1:56 pm

Why is it that some people can’t stand it when others do things they don’t like? I guess it comes from the urge to be in control.

Chuck no longer in Houston
Reply to  MarkW
March 31, 2022 2:38 pm

Could be vodka involved, MarkW.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Scissor
March 27, 2022 10:10 am

Poison Ivy League it’s known as today.

Bruce Cobb
March 27, 2022 7:31 am

Paging Griff.
Oh – here he comes.
“Nonsense. We hear about extreme weather happening all the time, everywhere now, with records being broken. But back then, it was just called weather, and people generally didn’t hear about it much. Grauniad Link

March 27, 2022 7:57 am

Britain has been battered by floods and parched by drought in recent years

Yes – frequently. And a couple of extreme records in the 19th century does not show frequent record weather this century is just weather

Robert B
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 8:26 am

When the only evidence that a weather event would not have happened if not for burning of fossil fuels is that it was “unprecedented” then, yes, that one event destroys what little logic to that assertion there appeared to be.

Reply to  Robert B
March 27, 2022 10:45 am

Einstein pretty much said the same –

just one observation of an effect that occurred without the hypothesised influence claimed absolutely delegitimizes that hypothesis.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Mr.
March 28, 2022 3:18 am

Pay attention to Einstein’s statement, Griff.

Just one observation, Griff.

michael hart
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 8:50 am

The Snowdrops came out very late this year. They need to get with the program.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 9:27 am


Matt Kiro
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 9:59 am

Griff, now that we have all these records, do you promise to never use the adjective “unprecedented” again when referencing weather events? Because all these events you mention seem to have precedent.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Matt Kiro
March 27, 2022 11:35 am

I’ve got this one griff.

ahem.. just because the precedented unprecedented events are now shown to be precedented, that doesn’t mean that the unprecedented precedented events are not now unprecedented. Clear?

Last edited 1 year ago by Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 12:53 pm

Oh dear. actual data that shows current UK weather is absolutely nothing unusual.

That must hurt griff’s little mind, as it tries all sorts of cognitive malfunctions in a vain attempt avoid and ignore that data.

griff, you do know that most of the last 10k years have been warmer than the current cool period we live in, don’t you !

Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 2:28 pm

Yes – frequently. And a couple of extreme records in the 19th century does not show frequent record weather this century is just weather

You just dont get it. Two relatively extreme events is weather. The trend is climate and the trend is more consistent rain and fewer droughts which is a good thing.

The UK climate is improving in terms of rainfall if improving means being manageable.

David Kamakaris
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 3:12 pm

Griff, how long is your record?

Reply to  griff
March 27, 2022 6:32 pm

Local councils have allowed cities to build in flood plains for the last 30 years ..surrprise they got floods, same thing happened in Germany and Belgium. Corrupt officials and climate change stories and greed for building land.

Pat from kerbob
March 27, 2022 9:22 am

Scotland is being punished for being too left wing, probably

Regardless, anybody with functioning brain cells that says to prefer a drought to 6% more rain should take those brain cells in for a check up

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
March 27, 2022 12:56 pm

Scotland have probably disrupted old weather patterns by erecting too many wind turbines.

Clarky of Oz
Reply to  b.nice
March 27, 2022 2:04 pm

Wind turbines cause extreme rainfall and floods!!!!
Now wouldn’t that be revelation?

March 27, 2022 9:23 am

My, my, my. Weather just being weather. Imagine that. Bet if they could find records from 2K years ago, they’d discover that was true back then. Amazing. With all the variations we have now caused by the planet being the planet.
Silly ass climate freaks trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Chris Nisbet
March 27, 2022 10:05 am

Characters like this Hawkins bloke get to use their deceptive language on us, and the media seem unable to find anybody else who might have a different way of interpreting this data.

I am so glad I found WUWT. I may not agree with 100% of the opinions expressed, and I certainly don’t understand 100% of what I read here, but I really enjoy reading explanations of what is so misleading, and downright wrong about what we’re fed from other sources.

March 27, 2022 12:03 pm

I know that adjustments are made to data for reasons that I don’t understand. It doesn’t matter to me why the adjustments were made nothing is more important to me than the raw data. If you have better equipment then by all means use it. If the more advanced equipment is giving a different reading than the old equipment that is not proof that the climate has changed. There are many reasons for differences in raw data, climate is getting warmer/colder, weather station has moved, environment around the station has changed and many other I am not aware of. Don’t fiddle with the numbers, note all physical changes and I will figure out for myself whether I should be concerned. If you change the readings then I am not seeing the historical record but an adjusted record. I have no faith in adjusted records.

Reply to  Bob
March 27, 2022 6:36 pm

Local councils have allowed cities to build in flood plains for the last 30 years ..surprise they got floods, same thing happened in Germany and Belgium. Corrupt officials and climate change stories and greed for building land.

March 27, 2022 12:38 pm

The average annual rainfall in Scotland from 1994 to 2021 was 1567.6mm. From 2002 to 2011 the average was 1581.9mm, 0.9% higher than the 1994-2021 average. In the decade 2012 to 2021 the average annual rainfall was 1577.1mm, 0.6% higher than the 1994-2021 average.
The average annual rainfall might be higher than it was in earlier decades but there has been no significant rise over the last twenty years. If there was a rise it now seems to have levelled off.

Ian Cooper
March 27, 2022 1:54 pm

It is interesting for me to compare my situation at latitude 40 South, here in Palmerston North, New Zealand. We live on the west coast of the Lower North Island with a mountain range at our backs to the east. Living in the ‘Roaring Forties’ means that the prevailing, moisture laden winds are westerlies. The long term mean annual rainfall is 986mm. Proper records started in June 1928. 150mm+/month events have occurred on 73 occasions since records began. The decadal totals show an interesting pattern.1930’s (including 1928.5-1930) = 10. 1940’s = 7. 1950’s = 12(also the calmest decade). 1960’s = 10. 1970’s = 5. 1980’s = 3. 1990’s = 7. 2000’s = 12. 2010’s = 6. 2020’s = 1.

Tombstone Gabby
March 27, 2022 5:05 pm

Floods in England in 1852. Also in Australia that year.

From “Weather.pdf” (1,100+ pages, culled reports from 4AD to 1900AD). Available at: (“Historical Weather”. “Chronological Listing …”)

“In 25 June 1852, there was an extreme flood on the Murrumbidgee River, which swept through most of Gundagai and the surrounding countryside in New South Wales, Australia. The flood destroyed 60 homes, leaving only three houses damaged but standing. Eighty-nine lives were lost. The death toll represented 36% of the town’s population of 250. The entire town was later relocated to a higher and safer location.” 99

99. Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department, Disaster Database, URL: [cited 5 April 2011]. (This looks like it’s been moved.)

I see in the Sydney Morning Herald that a number of recent NSW flood victims want to rebuild in the same locations. They’re called ‘flood plains’ for a reason. Shouldn’t be allowed.

March 27, 2022 7:04 pm

So it’s the Scots who are to blame?

March 27, 2022 8:21 pm

Hockey stick fraudster still has a job. Ponder that.

March 27, 2022 10:56 pm

Here’s one of the longest rainfall records in the Southern Hemisphere due to the first Radiata Pine forestry plantations in Australia and the interest in rainfall for tree growth-
Wirrabara Forest Climate Statistics (

You won’t see anything remarkable in the record from January 1879 to currently even though the Stevenson Screen was decommissioned with handover to Parks and Wildlife after the forests burned. There’s still automatic rain recording at the original site which hasn’t had any serious effect from urbanization over the collection period. I understand the original forestry temp records haven’t been transcribed from paper records due to resource constraints.

Ian Sloan
March 30, 2022 8:50 am

I must admit I laughed to myself when I saw the BBC highlight this story about all the data being digitised a few weeks ago. I said to my wife that we wont hear much about it if it doesn’t happen to follow the narrative … I was wrong, there will always be people who can spin the results to suit the narrative.

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