South-east England has clocked up the most number of days of the year with little or no rain since 1976, new analysis shows.

The region recorded 144 days with average rainfall of less than 0.5mm between January 1 and August 6.

This is just ahead of the 143 days recorded in the equivalent period in 1996.

It is also the highest number for the period since 1976, which saw 166 days of little or no rain up to August 6.

The figures have been compiled by the PA news agency using the latest available Met Office data.

(PA Graphics)

The data shows that between July 1 and August 6 this year, south-east England has experienced only two days where average rainfall has not been below 0.5mm: July 20 (1.1mm) and July 22 (1.0mm).

Of the 144 days since the start of the year with rainfall below 0.5mm, 57 have seen no rain at all.

And 23 of these days of zero rainfall have occurred since July 1.

In 1976, south-east England ended up enduring a total of 187 days of little or no rain between the start of the year and the end of August.

This was the equivalent of around three-quarters of the entire eight-month period.

There is no chance of 2022 beating this number, as there aren’t enough days left in August to catch up.

But the gap may start to close in the autumn.

September 1976 brought an abrupt change in the UK’s weather, with heavy rain in many areas and some flash flooding.

If this September remains as dry as previous months, and the trend continues even later into the year, 2022 may see south-east England experience the most number of days of little or no rain for more than half a century.