The reappearance of rain over the last couple of days will rarely have been welcomed so much by farmers, firefighters and land managers.

A huge fire near Llandysul in West Wales scorched 210 hectares of spruce trees and scrub last Sunday.

Eight hectares of woodland at Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthenshire, also went up in smoke.

In March and April, 80,000 new trees were destroyed during fires in the Afan Valley and Seven Sisters, which damaged 140 hectares of land.

And firefighters battled a vast 1,300-hectare blaze in the Brecon Beacons over the Easter bank holiday.

"Unfortunately, we have seen far too many large wildfires already this year," said Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service's arson reduction manager Richard Vaughan-Williams, on June 4.

After significant winter rainfall - and the warmest ever winter in Europe - blue skies emerged in March in Wales and stuck around throughout most of April. Then, May was the second driest here since records began.

Swansea University professor of geography, Mary Gagen, said the somersault from the wettest ever February on record in the UK to the sunniest ever spring - by a distance - had a "climate change signature".

Swansea University's Professor Mary Gagen

She said: "We've always had climate variability, but it's this stacking up of extremes.

"Of course, we were pleased about this spring weather in Wales.

"But it won't stop there."

Climate models, she said, showed that Wales would experience wetter winters and drier summers in future.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which manages large woodland plantations throughout the country, would appreciate a period of normality.

NRW land and assets operations manager, Huwel Manley, said the dry spring was starting to affect some trees on south-facing slopes and in shallower soils.

"Often it is the younger trees that are affected, especially the trees we have planted this year," he said.

"But some larger trees are also showing early signs of stress caused by the dry conditions.

"If the dry weather continues, we expect to see more impacts, which could include a reduction in the growth of trees and their vitality.

"The main young trees affected so far are beech, birch, alder and spruce. Trees that are faring better are those growing on north-facing slopes, or on wetter sites."

Part of Pembrey Country Park ablaze last weekend

He added: "The biggest risk of fires tend to occur in the early spring months when there is dead dry vegetation present.

"Usually, as this vegetation begins to regrow, the risk from fire is reduced. However, during prolonged dry periods, and as vegetation begins to dry out, it again becomes a fire risk.

"In most instances fires burn quickly, however if they take hold in peat-land areas the peat acts like a fuel and those fires can be extremely difficult to extinguish."

Mr Manley said a lot of these fires were started deliberately, and he urged anyone who witnessed arson or saw people acting suspiciously to phone the police.

Welsh Water said household demand for water between between May 29 and 31 had been record-breaking, partly because more people were at home than normal.

Tankers were even deployed in some places to keep up.

Welsh Water has encouraged people to have a shower rather than a bath, refrain from using garden sprinklers, turn off the tap while cleaning teeth and washing hands, and report any leaks.

It said demand from business was down, although it wouldn't know the impact for a few weeks.

The utility has 50 operational reservoirs, with levels currently from 40% to 90% full.

It said 40% could be normal for the time of year if there was the option to draw from another reservoir.

Levels generally were as expected, it said, given the weather conditions.

Tankers were used last weekend by Welsh Water to keep up with household demand

Welsh Water draws just over 40% of its water from traditional reservoirs, 30% from pumped storage reservoirs, 24% from rivers and 3% from groundwater.

Like all water utilities, it publishes annual drought plans. They have five indicators - from "normal operation" up to "emergency measures".

Welsh Water said 20 of its 24 zones in Wales remained in "normal measures".

Of course, it's not just people who rely on water.

Tracey Dunford, NRW lead planner for water resources, said it had to ensure wildlife and agriculture had enough.

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"As a result of this prolonged dry weather, we are growing increasingly concerned for river levels across Wales," she said.

“We are seeing some rivers at their lowest recorded flows for this time of year and we are concerned that water quality and wildlife will suffer if the dry weather continues through the early summer.

“When water levels are low it causes problems for important species like salmon and sewin (sea trout) when they migrate to spawn.

"It also intensifies the effect pollution has on other fish and wildlife if there is an incident."

Tom Rees grows cereal crops and rape seed oil on his 700-acre farm near Camrose, Pembrokeshire, and also has cattle and sheep.

The last nine months have been pretty topsy-turvy from a growing point of view.

Pembrokeshire farmer Tom Rees

Mr Rees said crops sown in late September and early October and harvested the following summer brought in the best income, but that last autumn was so wet some of the cereal didn't get properly established.

"I remember when it started raining - 2pm on September 21 and it didn't stop, basically," he said.

Mr Rees replaced a section of the cereal crop in spring. He said spring yields, come late summer, weren't as good as autumn-sown ones.

As the bone dry spring weather continued, Mr Rees was worried that the poorly-established crops lacked sufficient root depth to get to the moisture underground.

"Having said all that, the crops are looking remarkably well, considering what they have been through," said the 32-year-old. "I'm really, really shocked."

He added:  "If we get some rain in the next week, 50% of the autumn crops have good potential - probably close to our five-year average.

"Around 30% will be slightly below average, and the other 20% is what we re-drilled in spring.

"We need 30mm to 50mm of rain as soon as possible to set us up."

Some rain was forecast for Pembrokeshire on Saturday, June 6, but nothing significant next week.

The Met Office said the UK could expect a mixture of sunny spells and showers in the middle of June, with the south and west likely to be on the drier side.

More settled, dry conditions were likely to resume later in the month.

Mr Rees said the spring sunshine had swelled the oil content in the oil seed rape, but that a new area of potatoes was struggling badly in the dry.

Asked if he could irrigate them, he replied: "I haven't got the machinery. It's probably something we're going to have to invest in.

"Over the last few years we have invested in large machinery because the windows (for drilling and harvesting) are getting so narrow.

"The weather patterns are getting more extreme - we have just got to put up with it."

He added: "We are only a few meals away from starvation, no-one seems to realise it.

"No-one is concerned about food security."

NFU Cymru president John Davies

John Davies, president of farmers' union NFU Cymru, said agriculture faced more widespread impacts if low rainfall and high temperatures continued.

"The overall mood within the farming community is one of concern about the extended period of dry weather that started very early in the farming calendar, but it’s too early to panic," he said.

Swansea University's Professor Gagen said climate models indicated that summers in Wales could potentially be 60% drier by the end of the century, depending on global carbon emissions.

"I think most Welsh farmers would be seriously concerned about a 60% reduction in summer rain," she said.

"Right now we expect every one in 10 or so summers to be heatwave summers, but that could rise to one out of every two summers as our climate warms."

Prof Gagen said stalled weather patterns, like the one which led to the dry April and May, were a feature of the weather in our latitude.

She said the cause was strong high pressure and a weakened west-to-east jet stream, which bent around the blocking high pressure and back down again.

Illustration of a blocking high pressure - known as an omega block - which the jet stream bends around

Two studies looking into this, she said, found that summer and winter blocking patterns in the Atlantic region were happening more regularly now than they did in the early 20th Century, when it was cooler.

She said the reasons for the increased frequency were not yet clear.

One possible factor is the jet stream slowing down when the temperature difference between the Arctic and the mid latitudes decreases - which is happening because the Arctic is warming faster than elsewhere.

Prof Gagen said: "You can think of the jet stream like a river running down a hill.

"A steep gradient - big temperature difference between the poles and the mid latitude - makes the river run fast, small gradient - smaller temperature difference between the mid latitude and the poles - makes it run slower."

Other scientists say the jet stream appears to be influenced by irregularities in the Indian Ocean.

Although the physics of climate change are well understood - working out their impact on the system's myriad interactions is far harder.

"How cloudy, or sunny, it becomes as our climate warms is going to be a key factor in how severely we feel climate warming," said Prof Gagen.

Low level clouds weaken warming effects, high level clouds amplify it.

The planet is warming though.

The UK's current global share of greenhouse gas emissions is just over 1%.

It is aiming to reduce them to net zero by 2050, meaning it could still emit some emissions but would have to offset them by, for example, capturing and storing them, or planting trees.

Wales, in turn, produces around 9% of the UK's emissions.

The UK Committee on Climate Change said actions to date have fallen short of previous, less ambitious targets, despite successes in decarbonising the electricity supply.

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new global highs in 2018.

A delayed UN climate conference takes place in Glasgow in November 2021, when world leaders are expected to come forward with plans for stronger emissions cuts.

Prof Gagen, of Mumbles, said the world was on average 1.1C warmer now than it was pre-industrial times.

And it could be 3C or 4C warmer by the end of the century, she said, if global emissions kept increasing.

"That's a different world - that's a threat to life," she said.

Prof Gagen said she was heartened by more and more people taking an interest in a subject she began studying in the 1990s.

"That's a huge positive," said the 57-year-old. "People want to know about this stuff."

But Prof Gagen said she felt time was running out.

"We've just failed to make the changes we need in the right timescales," she said.

"My greatest fear is that we won't have a chance to do this in a safe way."