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The weather is one of the many reasons that Dutch people choose to emigrate. You need only follow the Dutch weather forecast for a few days to understand why: the incessant rain. So why on earth does it rain so much in the Netherlands? And why is the summer of 2012 in particular, so utterly devoid of sunshine?
As the American cartoonist Kin Hubbard once said, ‘Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while!’ According to numerous polls and surveys, the Dutch are a happy bunch overall, yet that doesn’t stop them from indulging in the favourite national pastime – complaining about the weather, and especially the rain. Whilst there may be the odd heat wave or even freezing snow storm in the Netherlands, it’s the relentless rain that tends to put a dampener on things (quite literally) and is the source of most grumbling…. or at least, that’s how it seems. For if you were to examine how often it really does rain in Holland, you’d be surprised to discover that it’s actually only around 7% of the time!
The Netherlands benefits from a temperate climate which, thanks to the North and Wadden Seas, is neither excessively hot nor cold. Meteorologists have observed an average annual temperature increase in recent years, but it is not known if this is purely coincidental or if the change can be attributed to the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’. Typical Dutch weather is not only influenced by the moderate Dutch climate, it’s also largely affected by the presence of various types of air and the fronts that separate them. This summer Holland has suffered from the abnormal position of the ‘jet stream’, a maritime polar air front that is bringing extremely inclement weather to the country. At this time of year the jet stream normally lies somewhere above Scotland, but for some unknown reason, it has been stuck over England and the Netherlands for several weeks, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like moving any time soon. The result on Holland’s weather has been quite dramatic: so far the summer has recorded a disappointing average temperature of just 15.7 degrees in De Bilt, making it the coldest since 1987 and on par with the miserable summer of 1993. In fact, this year it’s so cold that you might feel tempted to dig out your ice-skates and rustle up some typical Dutch winter dishes such as ‘boerenkool met rookworst’ (Dutch kale with smoked sausage) or warm up with a cup of ‘warme chocomel’ (hot chocolate)!
Luckily, we’re officially only half way through summer, so there’s still time for the sun to make a welcome comeback and 2012 might not have to go down as one of the coldest and wettest in Dutch history …