Good weather is never guaranteed in Britain, but you might pick August or July as the safest bet for a barbecue.
However, analysis of decades of sunshine and rainfall data shows May is statistically the best time of year to be outside.
It notched up the most hours of sunshine – 194 on average – leaving the ‘summer’ months trailing behind. According to records dating back to 1981, July had an average of 183, June 180 and August 172.
Analysis of decades of sunshine and rainfall data shows May is statistically the best time of year to be outside. It notched up the most hours of sunshine, at 194 on average (file photo)
The study showed May is also the driest month, with an average rainfall of 54mm across Britain, compared with 58mm in July, 60mm in June, and 67mm in August.
Drinks company Pimms, which commissioned the research from forecaster Weatherquest, said it would now spend more on advertising in May than in August.
Weatherquest’s Jim Bacon said: ‘Our research has revealed that May has got drier and sunnier, whilst August isn’t always the sunny month it is conventionally thought to be.
‘Who knows whether the trend of more rainy days in August and fewer rainy days in May will continue but it certainly gives Brits reason to get outside and enjoy their summer as early as possible.’
Looking at records going as far back as 1961, the survey found the number of rainy days – when there is more than 1mm of rainfall – in Britain in August has increased by 11 per cent. Meanwhile, the rainy day total for May has fallen by 12 per cent.
August sunshine has increased by 1 per cent, whereas the figure for May has increased by 16 per cent.
Both months saw a temperature increase of about 0.8C. The report said: ‘Although [August] can have higher temperatures, this can produce more cloud and sometimes heavier showers.’
Dover is the sunniest town in the UK with 1,218 sunshine hours, while Glasgow has the most summer rain, averaging 509mm from April to September.
The report also looked at the nation’s obsession with weather. In a survey of 2,000 people, 54 per cent said it is their most common conversational topic – beating family, food, news and sport.