Bleak forecast as wind and rain hit on St Swithin’s Day


Rain across much of the UK on Saturday does not bode well for the rest of the summer, according to the folklore of St Swithin’s Day.

Tradition dictates the weather through the second half of July and August is determined by conditions on July 15, the saints day for the ninth-century bishop of Winchester.

The proverb of St Swithin says: “St Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain, for forty days it will remain, St Swithin’s Day if thou be fair, for forty days will rain na mair.”

Which is bad news for those hoping for a hot, dry summer with rain and strong wind forecast across much of the country and a yellow warning for high winds in place across southern England and Wales from 9am until midnight on Saturday.

BBC weather forecaster Louise Lear said the “unseasonably windy” conditions, with gusts of 50-55mph along the South Coast, was due to low pressure over the UK.

She said: “There’ll be plenty of sharp showers, some of them heavy, some of them quite thundery as well and temperatures a little bit subdued for July.

“There will be some brighter, quieter interludes but those temperatures are really struggling, 16-20C at the very best.”

The forecasts for strong wind have seen summer events across the country cancelled or postponed on Saturday, while tennis fans without the shelter of a roof at Wimbledon are braced for thundery showers at 1pm on Ladies Singles final day.

The Met Office says Sunday is expected to be less windy, but rain and showers will continue for the north of the UK with a risk of thunder, while further south will see a mix of sunny spells and showers.

There will be a mix of sunny spells and showers – some of which could be heavy with a risk of thunder – for most parts at the start of the week.

The unsettled theme looks set to continue through next week, although with more in the way of dry weather.

Little is known about St Swithin, who legend suggests was a tutor to a young King Alfred the Great.

Summer weather June 20th 2019
Winchester Cathedral (PA)

It is believed he requested to be buried outside Winchester Cathedral so his grave would be exposed to both the footsteps of worshippers and the elements.

But in the 10th Century, priests moved his tomb inside coinciding with a major storm which was taken as a sign of St Swithin’s displeasure and sparked the folklore.

The good news is St Swithin’s Day has not been a reliable long-term forecaster.

A 15-hour rainstorm on July 15 1913 was followed by 30 days of sunshine, while a day of glorious sunshine 11 years later ushered in 30 days of rain out of the next 40.