A review of early May Bank Holiday weather in Coventry since 1978

The first Monday of May has been a bank holiday in the United Kingdom since 1978. It is called May Day in England, though it is better known perhaps as the Early May Bank Holiday. It probably originated as a Roman festival honouring the beginning of the summer season, though in more recent times, it has been as a day to campaign for and celebrate workers' rights.

Coming as it does, just a few weeks after Easter in early May, the weather has often disappointed over the past 44 years or so on this day, with average temperatures just 15.3C by day, though with an average of 6.2 hours of sunshine, it can be quite pleasant if the rain holds off, with 26 dry days out of 44, this suggests that it can be dry in about half the time!

Only 6 out of the 44 early May Bank Holidays have been warm, with temperatures over 20C (1999, 2005, 2008 2013 2018 2020), with one very warm day in 2018 at 26.2C. 3 of these days have been rather chilly with maxima below 10C (1978, 1983 and 2010), the coldest being 7.8C in 1978.

We haven’t had an air frost yet on the Early May Bank Holiday in Coventry, with 0.0C the minimum in 1996 being the coldest in the 44-year records at Bablake. There have however, been 7 ground frosts, with the lowest grass minimum temperature being -4.0C in 1996.

The wettest Early May Bank Holiday recorded 17.2mm of rain on what must have been a miserable day off work in 2005; other notable wet days include 1997 (16.0mm), 2012 (12.6mm) and 2015 (10.8mm).

By contrast, we enjoyed 13.5 hours of sunshine on the Early May Bank Holiday in 1995, with more than 12 hours of sun on this day off work in 1982, 1995, 2001, 2011 2013 and 2018, so it’s certainly not always doom and gloom!

Having said that, we did have some snow and hail in 1997 with some thunder in 1997 and 2005, so the day can go off in a bang!