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Chapter 10. - Climate and Rainfall

By the climate of a district is meant its average weather. This is largely determined by its temperature and its rainfall, and very much depends on its altitude and its distance from, or proximity to, the sea. No British county is large enough to have a distinctive climate of its own: each shares in that of the geographical region to which it belongs.

The following table, compiled from the late Dr Buchan’s papers, shows the mean temperature over forty years ending 1895 of several stations in Forfarshire; and, when allowance has been made for local conditions, it illustrates how uniformly temperature varies with altitude.

The monthly details contained in the same papers prove that in Forfarshire July (570 F.) is the warmest, and January (37° F.) the coldest month, while the mean annual temperature is 46° F. They indicate also the marked differences of temperature at various periods of the year ; for example, after the equinoxes, or between May and June. Dundee is here chosen—it is typical of the others—and the monthly mean over the same forty years is given in degrees Fahrenheit.

The cultivation of a country does a great deal to modify its climate. The draining of bogland and the destruction of forest have made Forfarshire a much drier region. On the other hand, sheltering plantations have been fostered, which protect the land from the biting east winds so common in the spring and early summer months. Fogs and hoar frosts are not infrequent, and the latter do considerable damage to the root crops. Most of the lowland part of Forfarshire has a southern slope, a circumstance that contributes to the geniality of its climate.

The most recent rainfall map, published by the Scottish Meteorological Society in 1911, is here reproduced. It embodies investigations that have been made at 129 stations throughout the country during the forty years from 1871 to 1910, and at a very much larger number of stations for shorter periods within that time.

The isohyets, or lines separating districts that have approximately equal rainfall, divide Scotland into parts variously shaded according as their mean annual rainfall increases from 25 to over 100 inches. Study of the map shows that on the whole the rainfall of Forfarshire ranges from 30 to 35 inches per annum, and that this average is greatly exceeded as one proceeds westwards.

A few statistics regarding the rainfall of Forfarshire, more minute than can be shown on a general map of the country, may here be given.

From this table it appears that the average rainfall in Forfarshire is 30*29 inches, the highest mean being 43*17 and the lowest 23‘39- Between 1891 and 1900 the greatest average rainfall for Scotland was recorded at the Ben Nevis Observatory, viz. i68-98. From 1871 to 1880 the lowest average was at Cromarty, viz. 23*18. Maximum and minrmum quantities for any given year are also interesting. The maximum record for any year since 1871 is 240' 13 at Ben Nevis Observatory (1898); and the minimum 14^72 at Pentland Skerries Lighthouse (1895). The corresponding figures for Forfarshire are: maximum, 54-15 at Craigton Water Works (1872); minimum, 15^51 (1887) at Montrose Lighthouse. The year 1911, which the man in the street may have thought to be abnormally dry, the more exact meteorologist has pronounced to be very ordinary -n respect of rainfall. But in that case the rain must have been most unevenly distributed, for in that year the Dundee district—i.e. southern Forfarshire and the adjacent parts of Fife— received the smallest quantity of rain in the United Kingdom, viz. i7'o8 inches. The general conclusion then is that our county is one of the least rainy parts of Scotland.

The great storm of December 1879 that wrecked the first Tay Bridge gave Dundee an unenviable notoriety, and though almost equally violent winds have since occurred their effects have fortunately been less disastrous. Wind records kept at Dundee for the decade ending in 1910 show that the prevailing wind is from the southwest, the same quarter as sent us these tremendous visitants. Twenty-eight per cent, of the registered winds have come from that direction; 19 per cent, from the south-east ; 15 from the north-west; 14 from the west; and 13 from the north-east, one of the most biting experienced; while only 1'9 per cent, blow from the north and 1‘2 from the south. South-easters predominate in April, May, and June; when it frequently happens that a warm day with westerly breezes is succeeded towards evening by a cold blast that rolls up dense, chilly fogs—“the east haar ”—which envelop the eastern and southern parts of the county and penetrate to its mountain boundary. For the remaining nine months the southwest breezes attain the highest records.

The sun is above the horizon in Britain for about 44OO hours in a year, and of this possible number of hours of sunshine Forfarshire has enjoyed for the last ten years an average of 1374^ or more than 31 per cent., which if distributed equally over the year would allow 3§ hours to each day. The highest record is 1480 in 1905 and the lowest 1236 in 1902. Monthly averages range from 184'1 hours in June to 40'6 in December. May, June, and July are the brightest months; and November, December, and January the dreariest—a matter of common observation which scientific research corroborates.

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