Weather in southwest France: April 2011 update

Early Cistus

Every month I post an update on how the weather has been, based on the statistics we have kept since 1998. To see the other weather posts, please click on ‘Weather’ under the Topics tab in the right-hand sidebar.

Last week I had a very weighty responsibility: keeping the daily weather statistics while the Statistics Freak was away and entering them into his spreadsheet. I think I carried out this task to his satisfaction. There haven’t been any complaints, anyway.

April this year was astonishingly fine and dry. The SF had his first swim in April (I didn’t, but then it has to be a minimum of 22ºC in the pool before I venture in). We had several barbecues, including at the beginning of the month, when we are normally still sitting in front of the fire.

Because of the warmth, the plants are much further advanced than usual. The roses started flowering in mid-April, the passion flower is blooming, along with the cistus, and the plums are already thumbnail sized. The summer jasmine is poised to flower, at least three weeks in advance.

However, the lack of rainfall is making itself felt. The lawns are turning brown in places and the lane is as dusty as in August. We have had to water, which is unheard of in April – normally a wet month here.

Here are the figures for April.

1. Weather assessment for April

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide.

In April, there were:

Pluses – 23
Zeros – 7
Minuses – 0

No other April since we have lived here has had 0 minuses. The graph below shows the percentage of plus days each April for the past 13 years (the line is the trend). The trend is improving, although it’s interesting to note that Aprils seem to go in pairs. This year and last year were both good, while the two previous ones were pretty grim.

2. Rainfall

Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This April we had 11 mm against an average of 82.5 mm for the month. It rained on 2 days compared with an average of 9.4 days. So far, it has been a dry year. We have had around 2/3 of the average rainfall.

3. Frost nights

This April, there were no frost nights. The graph shows the number of frost nights per winter for the past 12 years (sorry about the peculiar legend on the RH side – the SF needs to tidy up his spreadsheet). The trend seems to be upwards, although there is no discernible pattern and there are some notable peaks and troughs.

May is notorious for having very variable weather. Last year, the beginning of May was very cold (around 2ºC one day); this year, it’s been warm so far (24ºC on 1st May). But we haven’t yet got past the Saints de Glace, 11th-13th May, when there’s often a coup de froid.

Finally, a dicton for today (3rd May):

Qui n’a pas semé à la sainte-Croix, au lieu d’un grain en mettra trois. He who hasn’t seeded by Saint Croix’s day will have to sow three seeds instead of one.

I presume this means that the weather gets drier and the chances of one seed germinating are accordingly less. Well, I haven’t yet sown my basil, so maybe I will have to follow this advice.

Copyright © 2011 A writer’s lot in France, all rights reserved


    • We’ve now had some rain -hurray! The next few days are forecast to be dry and fine so no doubt the combination of warmth and damp will get the garden going like a jungle again.


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