Varied weather could lead to a change in tactics
IF EVER there was a fact that summed up the weather in west Cornwall in 2012 it was this – that as much rain fell in the nine days before Boxing Day as the first three months of the year combined.
The huge disparity exemplifies the shift in the conditions that saw the region tilt from droughts to floods in less than nine months.
It was a bad year for weathermen, with predictions of a long hot summer and bitterly cold winter proven to be untrue in the most dramatic way possible.
The power of Mother Nature was best exemplified by the spate of floods across west Cornwall at the end of the year, Newlyn, Helston and Godrevy were among the worst hit.
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Sections of the tourist industry, such as campsites, were also hardest-hit, as were farmers and other growers, whose produce was unable to cope with a deluge of summer rain.
But it wasn't all bad, a rare seasonably warm ten days in July and beautiful weather for the Olympic Torch's arrival in Cornwall in May allowed the region to show off what it does best.
As local weatherman Graham Easterling explained – if there's one thing that can be said it's that the weather is more variable than it used to be.
"If you go back five or six months to May, following the droughts everyone was saying it was a catastrophe," he said.
"But if you fast forward to the end of the year everybody was saying it for the complete opposite set of reasons – we were flooded.
"It has become more variable which makes forecasting more difficult. They were predicting a dry summer, and nothing could be further from the truth. In October and November they were predicting a cold winter and it's been mild.
"If I had to put my finger in the air all the indications point to it being cold for the second half of winter, but that it is more or less guesswork."
Perhaps an indication of the uniqueness of the year is that despite January to March experiencing just 44 per cent of normal rainfall, it ended up being the third wettest year in Penzance since 1991.
After a cool, very wet and dull summer, 1096.2mm of rain fell between June and December, 1.5 times the 737mm average for the period.
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of VisitCornwall, said although last year only had an impact on late bookings, things may have to change further if the wet trend continues.
He said: "The Brits are pretty resilient, 80 per cent of our customers have been with us in the past five years, and people just make the most of it.
"And going forward it will accelerate the late booking issue. But if we have another as bad as last we have to seriously think about things. If there is a perception change, we have to work out what we have to do in terms of development."