LAST month was the driest July on record in Sussex, according to the Met Office.

Less than three millimetres (2.5mm) of rainfall was recorded in East Sussex in July, just four per cent of the expected monthly average of 55.71mm, making it the driest since records began in 1836 and breaking a previous record set in 1847.

In West Sussex, a record low of 3.6mm of rainfall fell during July, just six per cent of the monthly average of 55.96mm.

Overall, the UK had just 56 per cent of its average rainfall last month, making it the driest July for more than 20 years. Every month this year bar February has been drier than average so far.

A total of 11 other counties across southern and eastern England joined Sussex in reporting their driest July on record, including Hampshire, Surrey and Kent.

The Argus: Large parts of southern and eastern England saw record low rainfall last monthLarge parts of southern and eastern England saw record low rainfall last month

Dr Mark McCarthy, of the National Climate Information Centre, said: “July 2022 has been a significantly dry month for southern England.

“Only 10.5mm of rain has been provisionally recorded on average, less than the previous record of 10.9mm set in 1911.

“The dominant weather pattern for the month has only allowed interludes of rain into northern areas of the UK, with areas further south largely getting any rainfall from isolated and fleeting showers in a month that will ultimately be remembered for extreme heat.”

Sussex also had its highest temperatures last month, with the mercury rising to 37.6C in the village of Herstmonceux at the height of the heatwave.

Southern Water said water usage was up nearly 100 million litres a day last month, but has so far ruled out the prospect of a hosepipe ban in Sussex.

A spokesman for the water company said: “Droughts in this part of our region are very much dependent on how wet or dry the winter is.

“We did have an unusually dry winter last year, one of the driest on record, but generally it takes two dry winters before drought fears begin in areas where the major source is groundwater.”