Weather in SW France: Verdict on Summer 2013

Mushroom season - this one is probably poisonous
Mushroom season – this one is probably poisonous

It was short. Autumn arrived early this year after a summer that lasted effectively only two months. September did not distinguish itself weather-wise. In fact, as you’ll see below, it was the second worst in 16 years.

Every month I post an update on how the weather has been in our corner of southwest France, 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.

Summer 2013

We were afraid we wouldn’t get a summer this year. The weather up to the end of June was dreadful – cool and damp – with just a few decent days here and there. On 1st July, it was as if someone had flicked a switch and it changed radically. Just as well, because at the end of the first week of September, autumn arrived suddenly.

The SF (Statistics Freak, who compiles all this) considers the five months May to September to be summer. We assign each fine day a plus, each bad day a minus and those in between a zero. This summer, we had:

Pluses – 82
Zeros – 45
Minuses – 26

This might not look too bad. More than half the days were pluses (thanks to July and August). But when you consider that the average over that period – and that conceals wide variation – is 96 pluses, then you realise we were cheated of two whole weeks of fine weather.

The only comparable summers were 2002 (83 pluses) and 2007 (84 pluses). They had more rainfall and therefore more minuses but 2013 must hold the record for the least pleasant summer period overall.

The chart shows the proportion of pluses, zeros and minuses over 15 years since 1999. The final bar is the average.

Summer 2013 - proportion of pluses, zeros & minuses
Summer 2013 – proportion of pluses, zeros & minuses

Weather assessment for September

For the past few years, September has been one of the finer and more reliable months. It’s often dry and warm, without the canicule (heatwave) of high summer, so it is pleasant for gardening or walking. We choose mid-end September to walk in the Auvergne, since the weather is usually good.

Thiézac - view from hotel under cloudless skies
Thiézac – view from hotel under cloudless skies

This year, the first and last weeks of September were fine. In between it was cool and damp. In fact, we lit the woodburner on several cool evenings. In September, we had:

Pluses – 13
Zeros – 11
Minuses – 6

The graph shows the proportion of plus days each September for the past 16 years (the line is the trend). 

Proportion of pluses in September
Proportion of pluses in September


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This September we had 63.5 mm of rain compared to the average of 57.6mm. It rained on 10 days as opposed to the seven you would normally expect. The chart shows actual rainfall against the average.

Rainfall 2013 to date
Rainfall 2013 to date

So far in 2013, we have had 762 mm of rain; this is 22.5% above the average of 622 mm. So I suppose the (only) good news is that the aquifers have filled up and hosepipe bans are unlikely.

Our French neighbours love their dictons (sayings). The local newspaper prints one for every day of the year. Here’s one that seems particularly fitting, give the amount of rain we have already had in October (47 mm already, most of it on Friday). Courtesy of Dicocitations.

Beaucoup de pluie en octobre, beaucoup de vent en décembre A lot of rain in October, very windy in December.

I hope this is wrong – I don’t like the wind.

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

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