This time last year a thin blanket of snow covered most of southern Britain as winter came along early. On Sunday the south east region of the UK continued in its dry, balmy and sunny conditions.
So long has the rain avoided the region that water companies are warning of a drought in the coming year unless winter starts to provide just its normal levels of precipitation. The reservoirs are low and rivers and underground aquifers are all struggling. The autumn conditions have now arrived in the region with leaves now falling at last and beginning to display that golden, red crispy tinge.
The area around Fairlands Valley Park has only received around 50 percent of the average rainfall in the first half of November
In the Guardian, South East Water said a drought order could not be ruled out by the time the winter season ends, and Thames Water expressed the company needed at least average rainfall this winter to avoid harsh restrictions such as hosepipe bans, car washes and watering football pitches.
The Hertfordshire valley lakes at Fairlands still held much of its autumnal beauty. Thick fog on Saturday night was eroded by a mild November sun burning through on Sunday. The fine water droplets within the fog provided enough water for the mushrooms, toadstools and small plants to get some refreshment. There was also a saturated grass despite a blue sky. An anti-cyclone positioned over the Scandinavian region has not moved in weeks and low pressure to the west of Ireland means warm air is being dragged up from southern Europe.
The temperature so far during 2011 has been 3 degrees Celsius above average.
Those in the West country will wonder what all the fuss is about as rainfall in Ireland, the West and Wales has been well above average for most of the year.
The short range forecast is for more unsettled conditions and rain for all (including the East). Veolia Water, who provide Hertfordshire with its water supply said:
We will need very wet weather for the rest of the winter for groundwater levels to recover by next spring. Continuing low rainfall means we could see drought conditions next summer.
Regardless of whatever weather affects the Valley floor, its beauty and charm always appears to be preserved.