Cumbria & the Lake District Weather & Climate
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We have a LOT of weather in the Lake District and Cumbria, sometimes all seasons in the same day.
Forecasts are pretty good but if they say it’s going to rain, it may just mean at some point in the day so don’t be downhearted. Check the right forecast for your altitude, if necessary pack some good waterproofs, some stout boots, read the safety advice page, and head out to enjoy our fantastic landscape.
Lake District Weather Forecasts
- Lake District National Park Weatherline
- Mountain Weather Information Service – Lake District
- BBC weather forecast
- Met. Office
Lake District Weather Stations
Lake District weather tips
- For kids, particularly, adding a pair of waterproof trousers will make the day so much more enjoyable. They also keep out the wind and you can sit on the ground which is usually not dry.
- The absolute “set in stone” rule to observe regarding Cumbrian weather is that the conditions on the fell tops WILL be different to those in the valleys.
- Similarly conditions on the lakes will be affected by winds being funneled by the fells and around islands, so take advice from your place of embarkation if going out on the water.
Lake District lakes winter advice
In a cold winter a frozen lake is breathtakingly beautiful. Those lucky enough to live on a Lake District lake shore can see the patches that freeze first, and those areas that are affected by currents and remain thin ice. Once the lake is frozen there is no way of knowing where the ice is safe and where it is dangerous – it all looks the same! Don’t be foolish taking risks – and don’t let dogs out on the ice, many lives have been lost in the UK rescuing dogs.
Lake District sun
Cumbria and the Lake District weather is in general a little cooler than the south of England but the risk of sunburn is just as real. Use sun cream, particularly on children.
Lake District Flooding
Despite having had the highest ever recorded UK 24 hour total rainfall in November 2009 at Seathwaite in Borrowdale, conditions which caused the floods at Cockermouth, Keswick, Workington etc, Cumbria and the Lake District is actually quite flood resilient.
While no region of the UK is really completely safe from all flooding, Cumbria and the Lake District is used to heavy rainfall periods and the fells and valleys drain swiftly through the well established river courses. Unlike some other areas building on flood plains is not common. In the years since the 2009 and 2015 floods extensive flood defence work has been carried out by the local authorities. Individual properties previously at risk have added to this with their own alterations to satisfy the insurance companies stringent conditions.
In February 2020 storm Ciara led to localised flooding across the UK. Appleby-in-Westmorland in Cumbria suffered flooding to parts of the town.
Lake District Climate
Cumbria and its Lake District are on the north west coast of England. This is affected by the North Atlantic Drift which, together with the mountainous landscape, makes it the wettest part of England. Average annual rainfall is reported by the Met Office to be in excess of 2,000 millimetres (80 in), but this varies hugely by location. Although the whole county has above average rainfall, there is a wide disparity between the amount of rainfall in the Eastern and Western Lakes and the Coastal area.
Seathwaite in Borrowdale (the wettest inhabited place in England) averages some 3,300 millimetres (130 in) of rain a year. Sprinkling Tarn is even wetter, recording over 5,000 millimetres (196 in) per year.
Sample average annual rainfall figures in the Lake District and Cumbria
- Keswick- 1,470 mm (58 in)
- Penrith – 929 mm (36 in)
- Carlisle – 827 mm (33 in)
- Barrow-in-Furness – 860 mm (34 in)
- Kendal – 1,676 mm (66 in)
- Sedbergh – 1,680 mm (66 in)
March to June tend to be the driest months, with October to January the wettest, but at low levels there is relatively little difference between months.
Although sheltered valleys only experience gales about 5 days of the year, the coastal areas are generally very windy having 20 days of gales per year, and the fell tops considerably more with gales on around 100 days of the year.
Cumbria’s maritime climate means that it has relatively moderate annual temperature variations, however the lowest temperature on record was -21.1c at Ambleside (21st January 1940) while the highest was 33.3c at Newton Reigny, nr Penrith (20th July 1901).
The Cumbrian fells are relatively low, meaning that although snow is common on the tops in winter (November to April) , they are also often entirely free of winter snow. Helvellyn averages 67 days snowfall per year, with the valleys typically experiencing 20 days annual snow fall. In 1888 snow fell on the higher Cumbrian fells on the 10th of July, and Skiddaw was white the next morning.