Why is it Always Cloudy in the UK?

a cloudy day in London

Everyone has the same old question: “Why is it always cloudy in the UK?” Because we hear about the rain and the gloomy weather but rarely about the sunny days in the UK. To be honest, bright sunny days are somewhat rare in the country. 

The United Kingdom is cloudy due to its geographical location. Moreover, the ocean currents impact Britain’s climate heavily, which causes the weather to remain gloomy or sunny. This article breaks down exactly how those factors lead to the UK being so cloudy and gloomy all year round. 

How Geographical Location Impact Britain

The main factor working toward cloud formation in Britain is its location in the Warm Gulfstream. Not sure what that means? Here are two explanations of the geographical impact on the UK’s climate.

1. The African-American Coast and Polar Regions Impact

The African–American coast absorbs the heat from the atmosphere and transports it through the water.

On the other hand, Britain receives cold air from the polar regions making the atmosphere colder. So, when the warm or heart-absorbed water flows from the north and the cold air flows from the south, they combine and form clouds over Britain. This process is continuous unless there are other influences.

2. The Five Different Air Mass Impact

One interesting thing to remember is as Britain is an island surrounded by ocean; thus, it receives five air masses from all sides. These air masses fight between themselves (not literally) to dominate the climate of the UK.

Air mass is mainly a large air body with similar condensation properties and temperatures throughout.

These air masses (Tropical Maritime, Polar Maritime, Arctic Maritime, Polar Continental, Tropical Continental) each have different properties and can lead to different types of weather. They can come into conflict and create a certain kind of weather front in a particular location. 

For instance, in the UK context, Polar Maritime and Tropical Maritime are more dominant than the others, which leads to Britain receiving more cloud coverage and rain.

But why? Because these air masses have properties that bring clouds, rain, mild weather, and cold air. 

Why Is the Cloudy Weather Ideal for Britain?

cloudy weather in Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

Although cloudy weather can sometimes be too gloomy and cause unpredictable rain, it has many advantages. 

For instance, the same properties that make the UK so cloudy all the time also make the country’s weather relatively mild, especially in the winter. Compared to many other Northern countries, the winters in the UK are not that harsh. But do you know why?

The North Atlantic Current and the Atlantic Ocean current, in general, transport warm water from the Gulf of Mexico around the island. This thermohaline circulation helps retain heat and provides warmth in the winters, which would otherwise result in temperatures dropping 10°C more than it does now. 

Moreover, the thermohaline circulation helps the growth of magnificent vineyards in England, even at such cold temperatures. Not only that, but the most humid regions of the UK also benefit from the warm ocean current as moisture infuses into the atmosphere.

Is the Weather the Same Everywhere in the UK?

According to Met Office Data (1991-2020), the average annual sunshine hours in the UK is 1,402. Although it may seem less, there are regions in the UK where you can experience plentiful sunshine.

The weather in the UK is different in different regions. The western and southern parts of the UK are the warmest, whereas the northern and the eastern parts have much colder weather.

1. Scotland

Scotland has the coolest climate in the UK since it’s located more in the northern part of Europe. The average annual sunshine it receives is only 1,200 hours. Moreover, Kinlochewe village in Scotland is the cloudiest place in Britain, according to Met Office Data.

2. Wales

Wales is the total opposite of Scotland. It has the warmest climate in Europe, and even the winters are not particularly cold. The country also experiences a record-breaking 1,700 hours of sunshine yearly on average.

3. Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s climate falls in between Scotland and Wales. It has warmer weather than Scotland but cooler than Wales. However, it is an arid region where rainfall hardly occurs.

The Best Month to Visit the UK

cloudy weather in Newcastle, England

The United Kingdom is actually a fantastic place for a vacation. The temperature doesn’t rise above 32℃ in the summer, and the winter isn’t that harsh either. 

Although the weather is sometimes unpredictable, it has some months when there is little possibility of rain.

You can enjoy the beautiful weather in the UK from May to early October. There is minimal rain during these months, and the weather is perfect for an amazing holiday and quirky sun-kissed pictures to bring back as mementos. 

However, July and August are the perfect mid-British summer months to travel to the UK as different organizations arrange many annual festivities at that time.

Make sure to book early; flights and hotels can fill up pretty quickly during these months.

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