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Losing Scotland Would Be A Weather Winner For The U.K.

It was cloudy and cool in Scotland on Thursday as voters there decided whether their country should leave the United Kingdom. Some U.K. residents fear the economic and cultural fallout from a vote in favor of independence. While I don’t profess to have any expertise in this area, I can say a “yes” vote will have one positive effect for the U.K.: It will make the average weather day there a little nicer.

What do I mean? Knowing that Scotland makes up about 32 percent of the United Kingdom’s landmass, we can calculate weather averages with and without Scotland. And Scotland’s weather is glooming up the U.K., according to data from the Met Office (the United Kingdom’s national weather service) taken from 1981 to 2010.

Scotland is cloudier than the U.K. as a whole. Scotland averages only 1,187 sunshine hours per year. That’s 186 hours — or nearly eight days — of less sunshine than the U.K. average of 1,373 sunshine hours. Without Scotland, the U.K. would average 1,461 sunshine hours a year. That’s 88 more sunshine hours — about 3.5 days.

Minus Scotland, the U.K. would also be a less rainy place. Scotland averages 188 rainy days per year. That’s 32 more than the U.K. Without Scotland, the average number of rainy days in the U.K. would drop by 15, to just 141.

Finally, Scotland is colder than the rest of the U.K. Scotland’s average high temperature is only 10.7 degrees Celsius (51.3 degrees Fahrenheit); its average low is 4.2 C (39.6 F). The U.K.’s average high is 12.4 C (54.3 F); its average low is 5.2 C (41.4 F). Without Scotland, the average U.K. high would be 13.2 C (55.8 F), and the average low would move up to 5.8 C (42.4 F).

The U.K. would be a drier, sunnier and warmer place if Scotland bolts. I doubt that will heal the U.K.’s wounds if “yes” wins, but it’s a consolation prize of sorts.

Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.

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