an overview of the climate in Manchester UK

It’s one of those great British canards that it always rains in Manchester’. This truth’ is spread by Southerners who have never been here and Mancunians (as denizens of Manchester are known) who quite like having a reputation for something other than the greatest football (soccer) team in the world.

If there is an accepted myth, every time it rains, that myth is reinforced. The truth is a little different from the myth, but being a Southerner originally myself, it is undeniable that Manchester is duller and colder than London. But it is 200 miles to the North.

Climate facts

Greater Manchester’s annual rainfall is 806.6 millimetres (31.76 in). But the average for the United Kingdom is 1,125 millimetres or 44.29in.

The average number of days in which rain falls as precipitation is 140.4. The average for the UK is 154.4*.

The mean temperature is just about average for the UK.

In recent years we have had very little snow in winter, 2008-9 being the worse for 20 years, but it was much worse elsewhere in the UK.

Winters are mild and wet. Summers can be variable and unpredictable but temperatures do reach the mid 30’s C or 90’s F every year.

Moving from the city centre, in many directions the ground begins to rise so that it can be noticeably cooler in Bury, say, than in central Manchester or Salford.

It is true that Mancunians are quick to slip into summer dress when the air temperature rises from unbearably cold to shivering. Mancunians are optimists and believe if they dress for the weather they can convince themselves and everyone else that it really is quite warm. They are also a tough Northern breed and a few goose bumps are worth the show of bravado and an opportunity to show off the summer wardrobe.

Of course, statistics can lie. What does an average mean? You have to take into account that Manchester, despite being in the North of England, is pretty much in the centre of the UK. Most places North of Manchester are considerably wetter, especially the Lake District and most of Scotland. Most places to the South are drier, especially the southern coastal counties of England. So for the average person, as opposed to the average patch of land, maybe Manchester is wetter than most other cities.

Manchester lies in a natural depression with the East Pennines
separating it from Yorkshire, the West Pennines from parts of Lancashire and the Irish Sea beyond and to the South and South East the Peak District.

When the prevailing winds come from the East they encounter the Pennines rising to over 1700 feet which sometimes protect Manchester but can also be a source of precipitation. Anyone who has ever crossed this route either from Greater Manchester into West Yorkshire or the other way knows how different the climate can be: you can be stuck in fog and torrential rain on
Saddleworth Moor then as you come over the top’ you often see the wonderful sight of the entire Manchester plain in front of you bathed in bright sunshine.

Manchester is not that far from the sea and when the prevailing wind is from the West this can bring a lot of wet weather from the Atlantic. As there are few obstructions between Manchester and the sea, we can often get some pretty miserable weather, and when it comes it can also be prolonged.

The myth of a rainy Manchester grows out of those protracted periods when it seems the rain will never stop. But the figures show that isn’t as bad as many would lead you to believe.

So why not visit. There is plenty to see in an around Manchester. But whatever time of year you come, do remember to bring a raincoat and an umbrella.