East Anglian counties—Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, and Norfolk in particular—are among the driest, having the least rainfall and fewest rainy days per year. The average annual rainfall varies across the counties, from around 50 inches (1,250 mm) in Norfolk to almost 70 inches (1,800 mm) in Essex.
These counties were also the most affected by the drought that devastated Britain in 2007. Some areas didn't receive any rain at all for long periods of time, while other parts of the country flooded due to high levels of water in the River Thames and other rivers.
The dry conditions caused serious problems for farmers who relied on rainfall to irrigate their crops. Had this drought happened in another part of the world, it might have been considered a disaster but in Europe and America people used it to their advantage by watering their gardens and selling the water back to the national grid.
Cambridge University's Department of Plant Sciences has conducted research which shows that plants grown without water for several days will not die but will recover if given more water later. This demonstrates that continuous dryness isn't necessarily fatal for plants.
However, if water is not available then plants will start to suffer damage from both heat and cold.
London is the driest city in the UK, and demand for brollies is similarly low in Essex, Kent, and Cambridgeshire. St Osyth, a 4,000-person community near Clacton-on-Sea, receives just 513mm of rain every year, making it a contender for Britain's driest spot. The average rainfall is so low that it uses up all its opportunities to be dry.
Around 15 million people live in the UK, and about one in five people are employed in tourism. So although travel industry professionals might think otherwise, brollies aren't really that popular here.
However, because London is such a large city with a high population density, this doesn't mean that it isn't possible to find some small towns where brollies are a big deal. In fact, there are several spots across England where you can find virtually no rain for six months of the year straight.
These include parts of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset. The British Isles as a whole have very damp weather, so it's not surprising that most of these regions are flat and coastal. This means that they're not exposed to the wind or snow, which helps retain heat during cold seasons and prevent floods during hot ones.
However, although they may seem like good places for brollies, urban areas that never see rain use up their opportunity to be dry long before they see six months without any precipitation.
For several decades, the officially acknowledged wettest and driest sites on the planet (with at least 30 years of data) have been Mawsynram, India, with an annual average precipitation of 11872 millimetres (467.4") and Arica, Chile, with. 9150 millimetres (3561.3"). These sites are part of the International Water Balance Array, a long-term network of rain gauges around the world.
However, recent studies have challenged these results, suggesting that another site may be both wettest and also has recorded more rainfall over a longer period of time: McArthurGlen, Australia. This site has recorded almost 4500 mm of precipitation in 70 years, which makes it by far the most water rich region on earth!
McArthurGlen is part of the MacDonnell Ranges, which stretch for hundreds of miles from south-western Victoria across South Australia to the southern tip of the Australian continent. This region experiences some of the heaviest seasonal rainfall on earth; it receives on average more than $100 million dollars worth of rain every year. The mountains act as a reservoir, storing winter rains so they can be released into the dry summer months when the need for water is greatest.
The highest peak within the ranges is Mount William, which at 2353 metres above sea level is not only the highest mountain but also the coolest location in South Australia.
There are a few smaller dry cities worth mentioning as well. Yuma, Arizona, with only 3.3 inches (84 mm) of rain each year, is one of the driest areas in the United States. El Paso is even more remote, located as it is in West Texas and also experiencing only 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain per year.
But by far the most remote city in the United States is Dyea, Alaska. This small town is located on Bennett Island, which at 1.9 miles (3 km) long is the shortest island off the coast of Alaska. The average rainfall is less than 2 inches (50 mm), and there has never been any recorded flooding here.
Bennett Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, but since there is no road connection to the rest of the world, all the water that falls on it drains into the ocean through small streams and creeks. There are some areas on the island that receive more rain than others, but for the most part it stays dry. In fact, according to NASA data, between 1871 and 2009, no more than 2 inches (50 mm) of rain fell on the entire island during any given year.
This makes Bennett Island the driest place in the United States.
It was the seventh driest spring in the UK overall, although counties in north-east England and eastern Scotland saw the driest spring in a rainfall dataset dating from 1862 to 2020.
|Provisional Spring 2020 climate statistics||UK|
The driest localities in Australia, based on average rainfall
|Ranking||Place Name||Annual Mean Rainfall (mm)|
|1||Coober Pedy, SA||159.1 mm|
|2||Lyndhurst, SA||163.6 mm|
|3||Woomera, SA||188.2 mm|
|4||Andamooka, SA||199.2 mm|
The driest location on Earth is in Antarctica, in a region known as the Dry Valleys, where there hasn't been rain in almost 2 million years. This region receives little precipitation and covers an area of 4800 square kilometers with nearly no water, ice, or snow. Vegetation is limited to grasses and shrubs around hot springs and small lakes.
Some locations on Earth get more rain than others, but only three areas are completely dry: deserts, glaciers, and arctic tundra. Deserts are areas where there is not enough water for plants to grow, so animals must find other sources of moisture. Glacial soils and pans are areas where the land was covered by ice sheets until very recently when humans started making changes that led to global warming. Arctic tundra is land that starts out frozen over most of the year and becomes covered in vegetation such as moss and wild flowers during summer months.
Dry valleys have things in common with deserts and glaciated areas including poor soil, little if any vegetation, and little or no animal life. Hot springs are one type of natural source of heat in deserts and dry valleys. They can be found anywhere there is rock with high temperatures on either side of it. As water flows under pressure down into these holes in the rock, it gets heated up and emerges at lower temperatures.
Christchurch, located on the east coast, receives 640 mm (25 in) of rain each year and is the driest of New Zealand's main cities, despite the fact that rain is still relatively often. Auckland, which lies south of Christchurch, is by far the most humid with about 520 mm (20 in) of rain falling annually.
The average temperature near Christchurch is 7.4 °C (45.5 °F). During winter months, temperatures can go below 0 °C (32 °F), but summer days are usually warm with maximum temperatures around 10 °C (50 °F). Rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year with neither seasons being particularly wet or dry.
New Zealand's South Island is home to two cities that are worth mentioning: Dunedin on the eastern side of the island has an annual average rainfall of 940 mm (37 inches). Wellington, on the western side, receives about 580 mm (23 inches) of rain per year. Both cities are well known for their university culture and each has three universities within their boundaries.
In contrast, North Island contains all of New Zealand's major cities including Auckland, Hamilton, and Wellington. This region gets much more wind and weather activity than the South Island with frequent storms and high winds being common. Wellington has the best climate with mild winters and no extreme heat or cold.