Fact-Checking a 1947 British Weather Report

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In June of 1947, British Pathé visited brothers John and Dennis Bartlett, professional weather predictors who claimed to be "80 percent accurate" and to have known all about the famously cold winter of 1947. Here, they are enlisted to find Britain's "proverbial one-week summer."

There's something decidingly un-British about their cockiness, but mamma Bartlett didn't raise any fools.

Or did she?

You talk a big game, Bartlett brothers—but can you back it up? You're about to get fact-checked, 67 years into the future.

Bet you didn't see this coming, chaps.


Bartlett Brothers Prediction: "The first week of July, thunderstorms. The middle two weeks, fine and sunny. Two thunderstorms. And the last week will be bright and fairly decent again."

Actual Weather: "July 1947—A rather warm month, with a cool spell 5th-11th; frequent, and at times severe, thunderstorms...Thunderstorms occurred rather frequently, mainly on the 1st, 8th-9th, 11th, 14th-19th, 22nd-23rd and 28th-29th. Those on the 15th-16th and 28th were widespread and severe locally." (Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office)

Those middle two weeks were anything but "fine and sunny," Bartlett bros. You blew it. I'm sure there are some sopping wet holiday-goers on Brighton Beach who'd like to have a word with you (assuming they are still alive, which is unlikely).


Bartlett Brothers Prediction: "Well, it's going to be very very disappointing. Heavy downpours of rain. Thunderstorms. It's going to be typical for this month. I don't think it's going to be a very good month at all, August. Very disappointing. That's the best way to sum it up."

Actual Weather: "August 1947—An exceptionally hot, dry and sunny month....In England and Wales it was the driest August on record." (Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office)

"The month was unprecedented (for fine weather) for over 75 years over practically the whole of the British Isles — only surpassed by August 1995." ('Weather,' February 2013)

It's easy to sit in a sunny meadow and draw ovals on maps for the camera, Bartlett bros., but when the storm of truth comes rolling in, it rains all over your parade. Doubt you brought an umbrella. Sorry to steal your thunder. When it rains it pours, huh? Maybe you should've kept your heads out of the clouds. And so on and so forth.