The east of England, including Cambridge, is officially in a drought. This comes as incredible news to those many people who imagine the UK as trapped in a perpetual rainstorm. For the record, here are mean annual rainfall amounts (mm) for some cities. Cambridge is shown first for the average of 1996-2011 and then for 2011 alone. It has barely rained in 2012 and in most of this region there will be a ban on the use of hosepipes from 5 April. Cambridge, for historic reasons, has its own small water company, set up in 1853. It gets almost all of its water from deep chalk aquifers and is less vulnerable to a drought. But even Cambridge is at medium risk of future water restrictions.
The impression of the UK as very wet seems to come from the fact that the rain is unpredictable and may fall at any time of the year. The higher rainfall in Rome is more predictably concentrated in October-January. Last year we had the warmest April on record. We’ve just had the third warmest March. But overall the last few years have not delivered good, hot summers for the UK. This year a hot summer will seriously stretch the country’s water supplies, but I’m still hoping it will be sunny.