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Weather Question

Hello everyone, here's another weather question. My family and I will be in Edinburgh early October. I read that the weather is chilly which we are preparing for, but doesn't really bother us, but how's the rain during that time of year? Is it mandatory rain coat weather? Thanks

Posted by
5828 posts

Our first hand experience is limited to May. We picked May because it is one of the drier months according to climatic statistics. In our week plus, we experienced precipitation several days and getting drenched on one day. And that's a dry month. October is one of the statistically wet months. Definitely bring rain gear and boots with waterproof but breathable membranes and surfaced treated for water resistance. Outer shell for rain/wind, mid-layer for thermal, wicking layer for moisture control, rain hat etc.

Rainfall is generally well-distributed throughout the year but there
is a marked seasonal variation. The frequency of Atlantic depressions
is normally greatest during the winter but, unlike other areas of the
UK, Scotland tends to remain under their influence for much of the
summer too. Autumn and early winter are the wettest seasons,
especially from October to January, and spring and early summer is
normally the driest part of the year, especially from April to June.

Rainfall is generally well-distributed throughout the year.... is the UK euphemism meaning it will rain year round. No dry season in Scotland.

Posted by
1599 posts

There is a joke that the weather forecast in the newspapers could be 'sunny with chances of rain' and be accurate for six months of the year. The rest of the year 'cloudy with chances of rain.'

October is in Autumn and that is when the rain kicks off more. Yes, I would expect you to be needing rain wear of some description.

Posted by
1068 posts

I always prepare for rain in Great Britain.

Posted by
5828 posts

Saying attributed to many cultures including Norwegian, German, Scottish and everywhere where rain and wind are the the norm: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad (inappropriate) clothing".

Posted by
2393 posts

Keep in mind the cold in Scotland is damp, chill to the bone cold. You will feel colder even in warmer temps like 50's. We were there in October and it was pretty cold a couple of days and really nice a few days - layers are key.

Posted by
1599 posts

50s? The temperature in my experience is hot if it gets over 20! :-)

Posted by
8889 posts

"Highest recorded 32.9 °C at Greycrook (Scottish Borders) on 9 August 2003.":
So no way 50°.

From the same webpage:
There is a general misconception that the whole of Scotland experiences high rainfall. In fact, rainfall in Scotland varies widely, with a distribution closely related to the topography, ranging from over 3,000 mm per year in the western Highlands (comparable with rainfall over the mountains of the English Lake District and Snowdonia in Wales) to under 800 mm per year near the east coast (comparable with the Midlands of England). (Note that rainfall also includes snow, which is melted and measured as rainfall.)
Typically, measurable rainfall (an amount of 0.2 mm or more) occurs on over 250 days per year over much of the Highlands, decreasing to around 175 days per year on the Angus, Fife and East Lothian coasts. In comparison, the driest part of Britain, along the Thames Estuary in south-east England, averages around 150 days per year with measurable rainfall.
The frequency of thunderstorms in Scotland, around three to nine days per year, is relatively low compared with an average of nine to 15 days over England. The number of thunderstorms can vary widely from year to year, but in general the northern and eastern coasts of Scotland average only three or four days with thunder per year, whilst inland values range from nine in the south to six in the north.
Facts and Figures
Maximum in a day (09-09 UTC): 238 mm at Sloy Main Adit, Loch Lomond on 17 January 1974.

Posted by
2393 posts

Sorry - let me clarify - 50's F - in October. What I mean is 50 F isn't necessarily cold - it will FEEL colder in the mopre damp climate of Scotland.

Posted by
1599 posts

Christi, I see 50F and think 50 francs = £5! ;-) . Well it was usually 10F to £1 before France changed for the euro.

Farenheit temps? Completely foreign!

For me at least. The tabloids use the celsiheit scale. Cold in celcius, hot in farenheit.

Posted by
5828 posts

RE: The temperature in my experience is hot if it gets over 20! :-)

As a temperate climate American I convert Celsius temperatures to "feels like it's ____" as follows:
40+ = Hot
30s = Warm
20s = Balmy
10s = Cool
Single digit = Cold
Below 0 = Great skiing weather
Below -25 = Staying inside isn't too bad.

Now that said, the UK Met October climate data for Edinburgh:
Reading the temperatures from the Mean Daily Temperatures at Edinburgh graph for October:
Extreme Max = 25
Max = 13
Min = 6
Extreme Min = -5

Posted by
11294 posts

A film set in Glasgow was reviewed in the New York Times by someone who grew up in Glasgow. She said the film was clearly a fantasy, because every scene was sunny. Her memorable line was, "In Glasgow, summer means cheerier umbrellas."

And do take seriously Christi's point about the humidity making it feel much colder. I ran into this problem in Amsterdam. It was 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but felt like 35. However, if I dressed for 35, I roasted, and if I dressed for 50 in New York, I froze. The trick turned out to be multiple layers, but no wool. I had brought one cotton sweater - and wore it every day for ten solid days, regardless of whether it matched my other clothes. I had brought a cashmere sweater, but it made me much too hot.

People who live in a "maritime" climate like the Pacific Northwest are, not doubt, used to this. But I was quite unprepared.

Posted by
5828 posts

Air temperature as low as 10C when combined with adverse moisture/water and wind conditions can lead to hypothermia.

What can cause hypothermia?

Hypothermia can occur when you are exposed to cold air, water, wind,
or rain.

Your body temperature can drop to a low level at temperatures of 50°F
(10°C) or higher in wet and windy weather, or if you are in 60°F
(16°C) to 70°F (21°C) water.

What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms include:

Shivering. Cold, pale, or blue-gray skin. Lack of interest or concern
(apathy). Poor judgment. Mild unsteadiness in balance or walking.
Slurred speech. Numb hands and fingers and problems performing tasks.

What can happen from hypothermia?
Hypothermia is an emergency condition and can quickly lead to unconsciousness and death if heat loss continues. It is very important to know the symptoms of hypothermia and get treatment quickly.

How to avoid hypothermia? Consider the Norwegian Mountain Rules:
The Mountain Code:
Be prepared. Be sufficiently fit and experienced for your intended trek.

Leave word of your route. This can mean life or death in case a search is necessary.

Be weatherwise. Check the weather forecasts, but don’t always trust reports of good weather. Good weather can turn bad in an instant.

Be equipped for bad weather and frost, even on short walks. Always carry a backpack and proper mountain gear.

Learn from the locals. Experienced local trekkers can inform you of safe routes, weather conditions and things to look out for.

Use a map and compass. GPSes are handy too, but don’t rely on them. A flat battery and poor reception can cause problems.

Don’t go solo. Being all alone in the mountains can be a magnificent experience, but in case of an accident it’s good to have someone who can give first aid or get help.

Turn back in time; sensible retreat is no disgrace. If you are not sure if you can reach your destination because of weather or conditions, turn around! Others might have to risk their lives trying to rescue you. Also try to notify anyone that may have been expecting you.

Conserve energy and build a snow shelter if necessary. Eat and drink frequently, and try not to work up a sweat. If you need to build a shelter, do so before you are exhausted.
[With no snow to build a snow cave, having a wind sack or even large plastic garbage bags can be a life saver.]

Posted by
5677 posts

You just have to assume that it will rain. There is no getting around it. Whenever you go to Scotland, January through December, you must assume that it will rain at least one day on your trip and travel prepared. You must alway have a proper water proof rain coat when you travel to Scotland. You must just accept this as part of doing business, or doing travel in the British Isles.

I really don't understand why this question comes up over and over--you are not alone in asking it. Travel anywhere in the northern hemisphere in October and you should probably be prepared for rain.

The thing is that you can have a wonderful time in Scotland whether it is raining or not. :)


Posted by
2615 posts

I have lived in Scotland on and off for 60 years, rain is always expected,if we go 2 weeks without some rain then that is unusual.this weekend we had some lovely weather today it is just pouring down with rain.
A decent raincoat is usually required preferably one that is windproof too.

Posted by
1599 posts

What Unclegus has described in Scotland is "summer". :-)

Or in parts of the country, a drought.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi Raymond. We were in Edinburgh at the end of September last year. It ranged from cool and damp to warm and sunny. It was mostly pleasant weather throughout our time there, but we were always prepared for rain. We found that always having a light waterproof rain coat with us was helpful. We actually only got short/light periods of rain while we were there, but I understand that a bit more rain is typical. If you can, try to dress is light layers that can fairly easily be removed/switched. At some points, the sun was hot and we stripped down to a t-shirt, and at others times, we needed all our layers. If you plan on hiking up Arthur's seat, be prepared to high winds!

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
168 posts

Thank you all again for the help and great responses. We definitely will get prepared for the rain. We've visited places before where it also rained a lot so we won't allow rain to ruin our trip. Thanks again.