Signs of Autumn and Weather Update September 2011

One of our walnut trees, suffering from drought

Despite the unseasonably hot weather and the persistent drought down here, there are signs that autumn is here:

  • There’s a perceptible nip in the air in the morning, sometimes accompanied by skeins of mist over the valley below.
  • The swimming pool can’t get above 22°C, despite afternoon temperatures in the low thirties.
  • It’s darker in the morning when we wake up and the nights are drawing in.
  • The walnuts are falling, although many of them are blighted by the dry spring and late summer.
  • The swallows have gone, lining up twittering on the telegraph wires before their departure.
  • Our cat’s fur is noticeably thicker as he prepares for winter nights outside.

Septembre emporte les ponts ou tarit les fonts’ – September carries away the bridges or dries up the fountains, so says a French dicton. In other words, it’s either one extreme or the other. That was certainly the case this year.

The temperatures could beguile you into thinking it was the middle of July. In our 14 years here, we have never experienced such a hot late September/early October. I have never swum in October before but we continue to do so as long as the pool temperature stays above 20°C. The SF, who is Swedish and is used to breaking the ice, normally swims longer anyway – the latest recorded date is 20th October – but this year is exceptional for me.    

Every month I post an update on how the weather has been, based on the statistics my husband – aka the Statistics Freak – has kept since 1998. To see the other weather posts, please click on ‘Weather’ under the Topics tab in the right-hand sidebar. Here are the figures.

Weather assessment for September

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 September, there were:

Pluses – 22
Zeros – 6
Minuses – 2

The chart shows the percentage of plus days each September for the past 12 years (the line is the trend). There was one September better than this and two equal. As always, there’s a lot of variation, but September is generally getting better, having started from a very low base in 1998.


September 2011 - percentage of plus days


We are desperate for rain. To look at our garden you would think it was the middle of the summer. There has been barely a drop for weeks. We are still having to water nearly every day. We haven’t mown the lawns since mid-August. Our citerne – water tank – is dangerously low and the pump has stopped working. The pump in our well, which is 12 metres deep, is still going but we wonder for how long.

Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. In September, we had 7.5 mm of rain; the average is 60.7 mm. It rained on four days against an average of 6.4. Only in March and July was the rainfall higher than the average. We have now had only 74% of the rainfall we should expect up to the end of September.

Rainfall Jan-Sept 2011

No doubt when the weather does turn, it will do so with a vengeance. People are already forecasting a tough winter. How do they know?

Copyright © 2011 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. We’re experiencing very similar things up here in northern Switzerland – not quite as hot, but just as extraordinary!! It’s due to break on Friday, so we’ll see what happens then – often we get the first snow in October…..I can’t get my head round that as right now it still feels like high summer!


    • The heatwave seems to be pretty widespread across Europe – even in England! Mind you, they are forecasting snow in the peaks of the Massif Central (around 1800 metres) later this week, so it’s going to be back to normal soon.


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