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There is an almost never-ending grey lid of cloud over the area and the sun shines far less often than on the Lancashire plain. In this respect climate has affected farming. It means that there is too little sun to ripen crops even if the soil was suitable.

Rainfall also plays a large part in the life of the farmers. Here rainfall is above average, being affected by its proximity to low-pressure systems responsible for wet and stormy weather as the climate is. The low-pressure systems produce systems produce rain without any assistance from topography, but the fells cause a higher rainfall on the west-facing slope. The Darwen – Calder gap in which Rishton is situation is a dry cauldron that averages 40 – 42 per year. The heavy rainfall, together with the boulder clay means that fields are often flooded and some fields are nearly always marshy so making the land unsuitable for arable farming. This heavy rainfall does however mean that grass grows well.

The following table shows the heaviness of Rishton’s rainfall since 1948, compared with an area such as the Cheshire plain where farming takes place, which has an average yearly rainfall of 30 inches.

Rainfall in Rishton

Year Total Rainfall No. of days of rain Wettest Month Driest Month
1948 41.28 195 Jan 8.04 May 1.85
1949 41.60 195 Dec 7.40 June 0.96
1950 52.28 133 Aug 7.66 March 1.97
1951 52.68 214 Dec11.35 March 1.39
1952 42 198 Aug 5.46 March 1.67
1953 37.99 190 Nov 6.47 Feb 1.7
1954 56.52 237 Oct 8.05 April 0.75
1955 32.28 169 Dec 5.8 July 1
1956 44.12 202 Aug 10.71 Feb 0.7
1957 42.82 188 Aug 6.67 April 0.48
1958 38.53 207 May 5.47 April 1.35
1959 38.53 162 Dec 8.48 Sept 0.44
1960 53.83 219 July 9.85 March 1.03
1961 49.57 193 Aug 6.37 March 1.73
1962 48.54 177 Aug 6.2 June 1.24
1963 36.21 186 Nov 6.35 Nov 0.85
1964 36.93 191 Dec 6.77 Feb 0.94
1965 44.95 164 Aug 10.5 Jun 0.65

Source Rishton Urban District Council Engineers & Surveyor.

This table shows that rainfall in Rishton is heavy and frequent with over 50% of the days of the year experiencing rain.

The table below shows the frequency of which months are driest and wettest within a given span of years.

Wettest and Driest months

Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
W D D D D D D W D W W W
D D D D W D W W W W
D D D D W W
D W W
D W W
W
W

Both these tables show the inconsistently of Rishton’s weather. This is very bad for farming. From the above table it can be seen that August is the wettest month and December next. There is an autumn maximum. Spring is the driest season with March being the driest month. This is unfortunately because the farmers depend on their hay for food for the cattle during the winter. If there is little rain, then the grass is of a poor quality. Harvesting is usually done May, June and July – This again is unfortunate because at this time of the year the weather is unreliable as can be seen from table 2. Even though June is dryer than May and July, because of the large numbers of days of rain in a year (table 1) the weather is still not dependable. At least a week of rain free days are necessary to ensure that the farmer can get the grass cut, dried, baled and stored to ensure adequate supplies of hay for the winter. Large supplies of hay are needed because of low autumn and winter temperatures that means that the cattle have to be kept indoors for a long time.

December 2010 saw the driest December on record, with just 1.3 inches of rain falling. It was also the coldest December on record with temperatures in Rishton reaching -17c. This extreme weather lasted for the entire duration of the month.

References

A North East Lancashire Town by Marian Sleigh