Northern Ireland

St Swithin's Day long range forecast doesn't hold water

Image caption St Swithin was a Saxon bishop in the 9th Century

"St Swithin's Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St Swithin's Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t'will rain no more"

According to folklore, if the weather is fair on the 15 July, the feast of St Swithin, it will stay that way for the next 40 days.

But according to the Met Office the myth, which dates back more than a millennium, "just doesn't wash".

"Since the start of records in 1861, there has never been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days in a row following St Swithin's Day," said a spokesperson.

"Unfortunately the weather rhyme that stemmed from this legend just doesn't stack up," they added.

St Swithin was a 9th Century bishop in the Saxon kingdom of Wessex.

Legend has it that he asked to be buried outside Winchester Cathedral when he died but his remains were dug up in 971 and moved inside the building.

The act was said to have coincided with 40 days and 40 nights of violent storms, indicating his displeasure at being moved.

The current dry warm period has been going now for more than a week with temperatures almost reaching the record set in July 1983 when 30.8C was recorded at Shaw's Bridge in Belfast.

And while the settled weather is set to continue for the next week at least, it is just too early to say if the legend of St Swithin will come true this year.

If it does, it will be the first time in recorded history that has happened.