If the weather myth of St Swithin’s Day is to be believed, England and Wales are set for a glorious, dry summer, but Scotland and Northern Ireland may not be so lucky.
The legend states that if it rains on 15 July, wet weather will persist for 40 days and 40 nights.
England and Wales enjoyed a warm and dry St Swithin’s Day with temperatures soaring to as high as 32C, though heavy rain fell in parts of Scotland and much of Northern Ireland.
But Met Officer forecaster Rachael West allayed fears as she said people who have enjoyed a dry Sunday will probably see some showers over the next week, and vice versa.
“Certainly some changes in forecast over the next week, never mind the next coming 40 days. But if people want to believe in St Swithin’s Day then that’s up to them,” she said.
A band of showery rain will move slowly east across the country today, with hot sunshine in eastern and south east England and isolated thundery showers possible. The pattern is due to hold until at least Friday.
St Swithin was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester, who died in AD862.
When he was made a saint in 971, his body was dug up and moved to an indoor shrine in the city’s cathedral.
Some writers claimed this outraged the heavens, causing rain to pour on the church and continue uninterrupted for 40 days.
But the Met Office said there had not been a run of 40 dry or 40 wet days following St Swithin’s Day since records began in 1861.
West said some people will probably be pleased to see the rain, especially those in Northern Ireland where there is a hosepipe ban.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes believe there is a 100/1 outside chance that rain will fall consecutively for 40 days and 40 nights, and Jessica Bridge from the bookie said: “We’re hoping and praying that the odds are on the money.
“While the heatwave may not last all summer, it looks like moderate temperatures and sunshine will instead of rainfall.”
Temperatures could potentially soar to 31C or 32C on Monday, most likely in the London area, but as the week goes on, it is expected to get a little cooler.