Monthly Météo: Guest Post on SW France Weather March 2012

By popular request – well, one anyway – I have commissioned a guest post from the SF (Statistics Freak, my husband) on March’s weather. The SF is the brains behind our extensive weather statistics, gathered over nearly 14 years. I don’t want the fame going to his head but I know I can count on my readers to provide their usual balanced and judicious comments. There’s a surprise for you at the end of the post. Over to you, SF.

I will give you our normal monthly weather report and then talk about my weather statistics in general.

Weather assessment for March

First as usual 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 March, there were:

Pluses – 20
Zeros – 7
Minuses – 4

March has been a sunny month and the latter part has also been unseasonably warm. We had a barbecue on the 25th, the first day of summertime, and that is a record in our 15 years. The cuckoo arrived on the 26th, also a record.

The graph shows the percentage of plus days each March for the past 15 years (the line is the trend). This is the second best March only beaten by March 2003.


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. The average for March since then is 72.4mm but this March only gave 19mm. It rained 4 days against the average 10.9.

The deficit is worrying. Since last (wet) July the only month when rainfall has exceeded the average is December. So far this year we have had 40% of normal rainfall.   

Frost nights

We had 3 nights of frost. March normally varies between 2 and 12.

General Comments

The most interesting graph in my statistics is the “Running 12 month rainfall”. At the end of every month I put down the rainfall over the previous 12 months so it is the annual precipitation measured on a monthly basis. The first point on the graph is July 2005. As you can see it starts at 650 mm and rises up to around 900 mm and going above 1000 mm on several occasions. Today it is down to 560 mm. I find astounding the almost 100% difference between the highest and the lowest.

Generally speaking it rains quite a lot down here. As a comparison I can mention that at Stockholm in Sweden the average annual rainfall over 100 years is 650 mm and it has never over the 100 years rained more than 800 mm in any one year.

I think the difference lies in the number of rainy days per year. As you can see from the graph above it is around 100 – 130 rainy days per year. I cannot get hold of the corresponding figure for Stockholm but I suspect it to be much higher. One’s opinion about a rainy climate is formed more by the number of rainy days than the actual annual rainfall.

Another surprise for people (especially Swedes) who think we swim in our pool all the year, is how cold it is here in the winter. This graph shows the number of frost nights per winter. The average is 44 which makes this winter quite normal in spite of the cold spell in February (I have anticipated 2 frost nights for April this year).

As you have seen from our plus/minus/zero graphs we have made the Excel spreadsheet put in a trend line. The general trend seems to be that the winter months are getting worse and the autumn months September/October and April are getting better. 

We do these statistics for fun and it is very interesting to see the reactions of friends whom we occasionally ask to fill in for us in our absence. They have no problems with writing down the reading of the rain gauge but to subjectively decide if it is a plus or a minus or a zero seems to create all sorts of mental contortions. We have to tell them “Just ask yourself if it was a nice day or not.”

Thanks very much, SF. Now, here’s the surprise – a photo of the SF, just in case you were all wondering what he looks like. Now you can picture him slaving over a hot computer to bring you the monthly weather stats.

The SF enjoying the sunshine


    • The information about Stockholm was easily found. I myself am a Gothenburger and there it rains more than in Stockholm but I don’t know how much more. Gothenburg is level with Scotland and that says it all, I suppose.


  1. I have had my chainsaw out this week! Nicer to see a log pile all ready for next winter and know I don’t have to do it any more.
    Love your statistics, so painstaking, so thoughtful, full of thought. As I very boringly reiterated earlier in the year, I think the Finistère must be the warmest place to be in France in the winter. We had none of your bitter weather, hardly a frost in fact. But funnily enough, this week we have had three ground frosts. But it has fined up to hot afternoons. We had 26° here last week which is almost more than we get in summer usually! But very much lacking in rainfall, despite our reputation. I’m going to have to water my terrace plants today, I’ve been putting it off for too long.
    Love the photo too, now why is that face so essentially Scandinavian? Why could you not be French or English? I have a photo of my grandfather which looks so much like you, but he was Norwegian…
    And as to men, husbands, doing our blogs, wish I had one to hand sometimes…


    • We do cut up wood but we actually buy it in metre lengths and cut each piece in three to fit the wood burner, which is Norwegian by the way. So it is an August/September job.

      I don’t know what it is that makes faces geographically traceable. My late father, who was a lumberjack in Alaska in his youth, told me that Scandinavians were called “square heads”. Maybe that is a thought.


  2. I wondered what SF stood for! Now I can put a passion for statistics with a face! Nice photo. We’re having a bit of gentle rain here in the Lot River valley this morning. Hope you guys are as well. The ground is getting pretty dry and the farmer’s are already pumping water from the river to irrigate. Joyeux Paques!


    • It can stand for more than the “Statistics Freak” but let’s leave it at that. We had 5 mm of gentle rain today and I can already see that the cowslips are perking up. We are far from streams and rivers and we always wonder where small animals get their water. Wild boar and deer can get it from the cow troughs but what about hares and squirrels, not to mention the birds?


  3. Really interesting that despite thinking the winters are so flipping cold – that in reality there are only about 2 actual recorded frosts in the month. Should we start a comparative study with the north of france I wonder.


    • Sorry, the two nights of frost are what I anticipated for this April that has just started, since all the other years’ figures include October to April. In February this year we had 24 frost nights. I think north of France by the Channel is warmer than here but around Alsace it is probably colder.


  4. I came back since I forgot to say how nice it is to see a photo of you, SF, and I must now agree with Susan. Guests posts from husbands are a good idea. I had one from Chris earlier this year. I think it’s time he did another!


    • Yes Steph, it is always nice to see a face behind the words.
      Be careful, we might take over.


  5. SF-you can blame me for having to do the post, hope you enjoyed it though. Great to see your post and put a face to a legend! I’d always thought the start of Summer was 21 June but you state 25 March-can you clarify. Your weather stats are in keeping with what we are experiencing in UK-I got sunburnt in March for the first time ever this year. Hope the fame doesn’t go to your head and Vanessa lets you out again.


    • Hi David, You are quite right, summer starts on 21th June but I was referring to the start of summertime on the clocks.
      It is 35 years since I left Sweden and people often ask if I could imagine to go back. The answer is No! but the main reason for that is that now I wouldn’t be able to cope with the darkness in the winters. In Stockholm around Christmas daylight starts at around 10 o’clock and by 3 o’clock p.m. it is already pitch dark.
      At least she will let me out to read the rain gauge.


  6. It seems to be a Europe -wide tendency that springs and autumns are nicer than summers. I wonder if this will happen again this year? It was glorious here in Amsterdam last week, but although still sunny today, it’s bitterly cold.
    Thanks SF for putting those stats together! I will try and get my hubby to contribute to my blog at some stage!


    • Yes, get him going. Today I talked to somebody in the south of Sweden and was informed that it was snowing so we are alright down here.


  7. Thanks for the weather report, SF! I always find them fascinating. It’s definitely worrying about the lack of rain, and interesting that winters are getting worse. We will have to chop more wood in readiness!


    • I do enjoy doing the statistics and as far as wood is concerned this is the first winter we are almost running out of wood for the woodburner. So chainsaw out again in August/September.


      • Hej Per! Av en händelse hittade jag dig. Sitter o kikar på TV om husletande i Dordogne …då kom tankarna på dig.
        Hur lever livet med dig? Allt väl hoppas jag. Fotot på dig är något år förstår jag…men det är en fräsch man som jag ser!
        Minns jag rätt….du var rätt “statistiknördig” när vi knegade tillsammans?

        Ha d gott.
        En rad vore kul.

        Torbjörn Vall


I'd love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.