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There's a well-known claim that weather is particularly rainy in England.

In the UK, a country known for its bad weather and lack of sunshine, there appears to be an ever increasing number of very tanned young people.

Sunbeds

Is it true that there are more rainy days in England with respect to the rest of Europe? What about with the rest of the (populated) world?

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    This might help for my fellow Australians: rain. I had to look it up. :-p – Oddthinking May 8 '12 at 8:25
  • @Oddthinking You know we get rain down here! The difference is that it stops, and that we know the sky is blue because the sky isn't forever blanketed in cloud. – jozzas May 8 '12 at 9:37
  • @jozzas I suppose this is really a question for English.SE, but is rain still the right term when it falls from the ground to the clouds? – Dan Neely May 8 '12 at 12:52
  • South england is currently experiencing drought and water companies have banned use of hosepipes and sprinklers to save water. But April 2012 was the wettest April ever recorded in english records. Does that make it bad? No, it just means there is a lot of it. – matt_black May 8 '12 at 22:26
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    most of those tanned young people are probably immigrants from (former) colonies and their descendants... – jwenting Mar 25 '13 at 7:24
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There are mixed claims in the question, "lack of sunshine" does not mean "above average rainfall" nor "more rainy days". It means more days with significant cloud coverage (some of which may be rainy).

As you can see on below map, insolation (average sunshine energy received) of UK is significantly lower than rest of Europe. enter image description here

There are two factors determining insolation, weather and latitude. Since insolation of UK is much lower than of other European countries at same latitude, and similar to countries much farther north, only factor responsible for that difference can be bad (cloudy) weather.

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    Actually, the insolation looks very comparable between (the East of) England and other countries of the same latitude. – Konrad Rudolph May 8 '12 at 12:01
  • @KonradRudolph I agree. London looks to be in the same situation as Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Brussels. But you never really hear about the poor weather in those areas. – Kris Harper May 8 '12 at 12:45
  • @KonradRudolph that's only true for the southern part. Once you get a bit north of London England's consistently a darker color than places to its east. – Dan Neely May 8 '12 at 12:54
  • @KonradRudolph: Only the southernmost part of England. But England extends to more than half of GB, northernmost part of England is at same insolation level as northern Norway, rather than like southern Denmark or southern Lithuania . – vartec May 8 '12 at 14:30
  • @root45: Benelux is not known for particularly great weather either. In fact it's total crap :-P A part of NL climate description "Rainfall is prevalent all year." – vartec May 8 '12 at 14:32
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It depends on where you are in the UK.

It rains more frequently in Western areas of the UK than in the east

UK - Days of Rain

(source - Met Office)

This map gives a European-wide comparison of annual rainfall.

Europe - average annual rainfall

(source - European Environment Agency)

Edit - here's a map of the annual rainfall for North America.

North America - average annual rainfall

(source - CEC)

  • I'd love to see a similar map for North America. – DJClayworth May 8 '12 at 12:57
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    You're comparing "Days of rain" to "total rainfall". This is not a valid comparison. – Russell Steen May 9 '12 at 0:59
  • Days of rain for UK, check! :-) What about Europe? I mean, is 110 rainy days a lot or a little? – Sklivvz May 9 '12 at 16:42
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Raninfall varies greatly in the UK, depending on the region. The map below illustrates this point better than words. It is interesting to note that London is actually in one of the driest regions of UK.

enter image description here

[ source ]

Quantity of yearly rainfall (mm) in various cities

As you can see from the above, you might be hard-pressed to find a city with less rainfall than London, although other regions ( the mountainous north-west ) do have high rainfall amounts.

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    Aha, but I am more interested in the number of rainy days, not in the amount of water that falls... – Sklivvz May 8 '12 at 11:01

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