The UK is on track for its wettest May on record, with further heavy rain forecast as lockdown rules start to lift.

According to provisional figures from the Met Office’s national climate information centre, Wales has already recorded 129% (110.6mm) of its average rainfall for the whole of the month, while the UK as a whole has had 88% (61.1mm).

All countries in the UK are recording rainfall well above the amount usually expected at this point in May, with Scotland reporting 72% (60.9mm) of its average May total, Northern Ireland 77% (55.8mm) and England 92% (53.9mm).

Simon Partridge, a senior operational meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “After a very dry April, the UK has seen a very wet May with rainfall totals already exceeding the monthly average.

“This has primarily been as a result of the position of the jet stream. It is currently to the south of the UK which allows low-pressure systems (those which bring wind and rain) to cross the UK.

“This is currently the case, although there are signs of some drier and more settled weather towards the end of the week.”

Flood warnings were announced on Thursday in England and Wales along the River Ray in Wiltshire and its tributaries from Shipton Lee to and including Islip. The Severn Vyrnwy confluence at the Llanymynech river gauge was also affected.

On Friday, the UK will experience 91% of its expected rainfall for the entire month, with approximately 63.5mm having already fallen. The wettest May on record was in 1967, when 131.7mm of rain fell across the month. There have been five Mays since 2000 in which rainfall exceeded 100mm, with 2007 recording 114.2mm.

The Met Office has reported May to be a relatively cool month, despite average temperatures in the UK increasing due to climate change, with maximum, minimum, and mean temperatures all at least 2C lower than the May average for every part of the UK.

Unsettled conditions will continue through the weekend, but there is a sign of drier conditions to come from Tuesday, with some indications of temperatures starting to climb towards more typical figures for the time of year.

A woman walks her dog in the rain in Cardiff, south Wales.
A woman walks her dog in the rain in Cardiff, south Wales. Photograph: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans/Rex/Shutterstock

It is not the first time the UK has experienced unusual weather this year. According to the Met Office, April was the frostiest on record, with an average of 13 days of air frosts reported for the UK, topping the 11 days seen in April 1970.

Frosty conditions were replicated across the UK in April, with England (12 days), Wales (11 days) and Scotland (16 days) reporting their frostiest April since records began in 1960. Northern Ireland reported eight days of frost, not yet exceeding its current record of 11 days set in April 1983.

Last year, the UK experienced its sunniest spring and driest May since records began with 626 hours of bright sunshine recorded for the UK, exceeding the previous high (555 hours, set in 1948) by more than 70 hours.



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