75th anniversary of the Blitz in Wanstead

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Blitz in Wanstead and Woodford. Over a period of eight months around 450 bombs were dropped on the two boroughs, killing 129 people and injuring 194.

The Churchill statue at Woodford Green
The Churchill statue at Woodford Green

The summer of 1940 had been varied; a warm and dry June was followed by a cool and wet July. The weather turned much warmer and dryer in August, just 2mm of rain fell during the whole month. Only one August has been drier since and parts of London went 46 days without any measurable rain.

As people got on with their summer and the Phoney War (Britain had been in conflict with Germany for nearly a year) events in Europe must have seemed a world away. This all changed just after 11pm on Wednesday, August 28th when two high explosive bombs and one incendiary were dropped at two addresses in Woodford Green. Damage was light and only one minor injury was reported but the event brought home to citizens that the war was starting to happen on their doorsteps.

The days that followed were fraught with uncertainty; sirens sounded at any time of the day or night – the rapping of machine guns could be heard faintly in the skies as British fighters and enemy spotters fought invisible battles; the anti-aircraft guns pounding away on outlying sites including Wanstead Flats.

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 31st, a British fighter plane crashed in Hereford Road, taking out the front of a house and landing in the road – the pilot having earlier bailed out.

The opening week of September saw the hottest spell of the season. But summer, and the relative peace that Britain had enjoyed since the announcement of hostilities a year earlier, came to an abrupt end on September 7th.new high street

It had been a beautiful day on the 7th with wall-to-wall sunshine and warm temperatures – the eighth day running the thermometer had reached the mid to late 70s fahrenheit. Many people were outside taking advantage of the weather when at 5pm the drone of the first Luftwaffe bombers could be heard passing to the south of the borough. By 6pm the skies were empty but all Thameside blazed.

The bombers struck again soon after 8pm, guided to their earlier smoking targets of the docks and the East End. As the sun began to set a red glow in the sky to the west and south-west gave the impression that all London was burning.

Wanstead and Woodford, so far unscathed, sent rescue parties to East Ham to help. Within a few hours, however, the area itself became the target of bombing when, at 1.25am, the first of three high explosive bombs fell in the Grove Park area behind the High Street. Two houses (Nos. 7 and 9) in Grove Park and the central block of the Shrubbery flats collapsed. A row of shops in the High Street, what is now Boots, was badly damaged by the third bomb which was dropped along with about 500 incendiaries.

A fire gutted the roof of 30 High Street, a house overlooking Christchurch Green, which is now a large block of flats on the corner of Wanstead Place, opposite the pie and mash shop.

FullSizeRender (1)The explosions left eight dead in the immediate vicinity while another blast in Highfield Road, Woodford Green, claimed the lives of three others. Some 50 people were injured across the two boroughs during the raid which was over by 2.30am. Rescue teams worked through the night to combat fires and tend to the injured. Wanstead and Woodford had suffered far less damage than other parts of London and a decision had already been taken to accept 2,000 evacuees from the East End. By Sunday lunchtime the first of these began to arrive in buses and lorries.

It was a dull day, ten degrees cooler than Saturday and probably reflected the public mood at the time. The bombings went on nightly through September – in the next two months there was little falling off. The manner of peoples’ lives is summed up in this entry from the diary of a local man:

“Night of September 11-12: Terrific AA barrage ended about 5am. To bed at 5.40. At 6.20 phone call saying office hit and we were to work at – . Left home at 7am. Settled down in strange building with difficulty, and grew so overwhelmingly sleepy that (having been awake for 5 nights) fell asleep standing up.”

But, two days later:

“Saturday 14th – left office 2 o’clock and spent two hours gardening. Beautiful autumn afternoon.”

As the boroughs learnt to cope with high explosive bombs, each weighing between 250-2,000lbs, the horror of the first parachute mine emerged within a couple of weeks. On September 23, a paramine fell in the Stanley Road area of South Woodford, killing 17 people – the highest number of deaths recorded in any single incident in the borough.

The borough was the first district to experience an explosive incendiary. A fire watcher of over 70 lost the sight of an eye from this type of bomb but continued on duty until the end of the war.

A warden called “Will” wrote this letter to his parents on September 29th 1940. It is intriguing for me because in the letter he mentions a house that I lived in in Cavendish Drive, Leytonstone. He says that an incendiary bomb lodged in the loft before burning through to the floor. While decorating one year I uncovered scorch marks in the landing well as well as charred damaged on the bannister and scorch marks on the floorboards – evidence of bomb damage.

As Wanstead, Woodford and the rest of suburban London got over the initial shock of the start of the Blitz people acted to keep life going as normally as possible. Many people who weren’t appointed as wardens learnt, through local authority training, to deal with incendiary bombs – airborne missiles dropped by the Luftwaffe that could easily pierce slate roofs and set fires below. Stirrup pumps could be bought and, through a family effort, fires could be extinguished or controlled until the arrival of the fire brigade. 

The intensity of the night raids that brought so much destruction in September continued through October. The neighbouring borough of Woodford bore the brunt of the bombing but Wanstead, being so close to anti-aircraft guns sited on Wanstead Flats, continued to be hit.  On the 11th six high explosive bombs fell on Wanstead Park, one damaging the Temple. Two days later high explosive bombs fell on land close to the City of London Cemetery on Aldersbrook Road, leaving six craters. 
On the 14th three people were killed when a high explosive bomb landed in Woodlands Avenue on the Aldersbrook estate while incediaries caused many small fires in properties on Elmcroft Avenue. By the end of October the attacks started to be scaled back.
3:11:1940
Synoptic chart for November 3rd 1940. Image courtesy of the Met Office

Bad weather at the start of November coincided with a 6-day pause in bombing incidents. It was a very cyclonic month that probably hampered German air operations. Indeed, on November 3rd, 40.8mm of rain was recorded at Greenwich – a daily record for November that remains to this day. 

Another 6-day pause in the bombing happened after November 16th. When the Luftwaffe returned on Saturday, November 23rd, it was Wanstead that bore the brunt. At 4.12pm, as light was fading on a dull, dreary afternoon, high explosive bombs caused fires at and partly demolished nos 78 and 89 New Wanstead. A minute later another bomb ruptured water and gas mains in Spratt Hall Road. At 4.30pm a further high explosive bomb fell in the High Street, killing 4 people. The raid ended at 5.16pm as a bomb fell in Fitzgerald Road though this time there were no injuries. 
By now the weather was beginning to quieten down though weeks of deep depressions with associated gales and heavy rain had taken their toll – many residents reported problems of Anderson bomb shelters being constantly flooded – but it was probably the design as much as the weather that was to blame. Some 171.6mm of rain was collected by month end in Greenwich – a record for this region that also remains to this day. 
As pressure built in the last few days of November the first frosts of winter arrived but the bombs returned. High explosive devices fell in Woodford New Road and Bunces Lane on the 30th, fracturing a water main. 
On December 3rd bombs fell in Nelson Road, Woodford Road and Eagle Lane, damaging road surfaces. Later the same night houses in Wellington Road and Elmcroft Avenue were badly damaged by bombs.

wordsworthThe final raid of the year, on the evening of December 8th, saw yet more tragedy befall the boroughs. Just after 7pm a high explosive bomb fell in St Albans Road, killing three people. And at 10.25pm a paramine was dropped on Wordsworth Avenue, South Woodford, killing 14 people and injuring 41.

The raids didn’t start up again until January 5th. Mostly dry, cloudy and cold weather allowed residents who hadn’t moved out to make what they could of Christmas.

The turn of the year saw the weather turn much colder as an anticyclone became established over Scandinavia. The opening week was dominated by bitterly cold easterly winds with temperatures barely above freezing, severe frosts at night and some snow – a near repeat of the severe January a year earlier.

figuresOn January 5th bombs were dropped on St Albans Crescent and Canfield Road. Further high explosive bombs fell in the area on the 7th and 11th as the cold continued to bite. The minimum on the night of the 15th/16th fell to minus 7.5°C, but during the third week a thaw set in as heavy snow turned to rain, it became misty, and temperatures slowly rose. On the 20th, nearly 17mm of rain (including melted snow) fell, and on the 22nd the temperature rose above 8°C.

A dull and rather wet February followed with temperatures close to normal. The early part of the month was cold with frost and some snow. After a minimum temperature below minus 6°C. on the night of the 4th/5th, outbreaks of snow occurred during the day and the maximum temperature stayed below freezing. Though it was cold in Wanstead much heavier snowfalls occurred over north-east England. A thaw set in at the end of the first week, and on the 8th the maximum was above 11°C.

Just one raid happened in February but further horror lay in wait in March – a month which continued the theme of the wet, miserable and dull winter. The early part of the month was unsettled with heavy rain at times. On the 6th, over 13mm fell. During the second week it became dry with sunny periods. There were some frosty nights and lingering fog. On the 12th, the maximum temperature was only 5°C. Temperatures slowly rose during the third week.

On the 19th four members of the Civil Defence Services gave their lives as they went about their duties at Post 41 “F” District headquarters (Aldersbrook Tennis Club), an area of South Wanstead, which, from the battering it received from the early days of bombing (and which later continued through the phases of the flying bomb and the V2 rocket) became known as “The Battle Field” or “Hell Fire Corner”.

The following impression of that night is written by one who was at the scene:

“The wail of the siren opposite the Post announced at 8.15pm the arrival of the raiders. The Post personnel saw a startling sight. The Flats were a sea of flame. Thousands of incendiaries were burning on the open space. The guns roared. It was obvious that the enemy was making a concerted and determined attack. Bomb flashes stabbed the blackout. Planes droned overhead. The batteries on the Flats joined those further away in putting up a terrific barrage.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.37.33At 8.50pm, three high explosive bombs fell in Lake House Road, damaging a number of houses and partly demolishing Nos 14 and 31. A few casualties resulted, one being a man who was trapped in the doorway of No. 14. Wardens heaved on the obstruction to release him. Gas escaping in the same house caused a fire. This was quickly dealt with and the flames smothered. A nearby barrage balloon had burst into flames, illuminating the scene with glaring brilliance and revealing the widespread damage.

At 9.20pm this first incident appeared closed, and services were awaiting the result of a final search and check-up before being dismissed. Then a parachute mine landed. It exploded a few yards from Aldersbrook corner on the Leytonstone side. A house in Lake House Road, already badly damaged, tottered to destruction. Number 11 caught fire and was destroyed. Loss of life would have been heavy but for the fact that most of the inhabitants had by now taken refuge in the Aldersbrook public shelter, and those who remained were in their dugouts.

The attack died down. Wardens returned to their posts – but the number for 41 was sadly lacking. The two boys’ bicycles stood in their usual place. ‘Busy somewhere’ said the chief. But the absent ones did not return, and a search was made. They were found – in the mortuary, three of them. It was known that two others had been taken to hospital. Warden Barnett was one of these. He died next morning of his injuries.

Just before the mine exploded, the messengers had been giving assistance in one of the less badly-damaged houses. Broome, although officially not on duty, had rushed out to lend a hand. Warden Hutton was endeavouring to turn off the gas at No 14 when the mine fell.

So the four from Post 41 died doing their duty on the Home Front. The two boys, pals in the service, sleep in one grave in Old Wanstead churchyard. The two men lie close by, in Ilford Cemetery.

A few days later their comrades stood silently at attention as the funeral cortege halted outside the Post. A Union Jack covered each of the four coffins.

The four members of the Civil Defence Services who gave their lives were: Thomas Hutton, 44, a warden, of Blake Hall Crescent, Wanstead; William Barnett, 36, a warden, of Belgrave Road, Wanstead; Roy Broome, 17, a messenger, of Lake House Road, Wanstead; and Herbert Stower, 18, a messenger, of Clavering Road, Wanstead.

Winston Churchill's letter to his constituents
Winston Churchill’s letter to his constituents

As spring wore on the weather remained mostly miserable though raid incidents lessened and petered out in May. Wanstead and Woodford had its last bombs of the period on May 10th. There were no more that year.

In total 129 people lost their lives and 194 were injured during the campaign. This figure would nearly double when the next phase of the bombing, using V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets, would begin three years later in June 1944.

It is hard to imagine how people coped with the constant barrage of bombs during the Blitz. What seems to get lost in articles and historical texts I’ve read is just how grim the weather was at the time – remember this was a time before central heating. Not only were bedrooms freezing cold people must have laid there wondering if they were going to see morning.

It seems to be a human condition that when we are faced with adversity we just find a way of ‘getting on with it’ as best we can.

This graph shows how much colder the weather was at the time of the Blitz compared with the period September 2014 - May 2015
This graph shows how much colder the weather was at the time of the Blitz compared with the period September 2014 – May 2015
Wanstead and the surrounding area is shown to be peppered with bombs on the website http://bombsight.org/ but many of the accounts listed in Tiquet's book are not listed
Wanstead and the surrounding area is shown to be peppered with bombs on the website http://bombsight.org/ but many of the accounts listed in Tiquet’s book are not listed

* Much of the inspiration for this blog comes thanks to the book It Happened Here by Stanley Tiquet. The book is available for loan and can be purchased at Redbridge libraries.

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Fading faith in St Swithin

Legend has it that the weather on Wednesday will be the same for the next 40 days.

St Swithin’s day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
St Swithin’s day, if thou be fair,
For forty days ’twill rain na mair.

St Swithin’s Day is probably among the most well known of weather folklore – but, taken at face value, it is probably the most unreliable.

Grasslands around Wanstead Park have gradually turned brown because of the lack of rainfall since March
Grasslands around Wanstead Park have gradually turned brown because of the lack of rainfall since March

Since 1848 Wanstead and the surrounding region has enjoyed 93 dry St Swithin’s Days (56%). From these the longest dry spell that followed was just 18 days, in 2000. On average, if St Swithin’s is dry, the weather stays fair for 3 days, with rain arriving on the 18th. Many dry St Swithin’s Days (17%) are followed by rain the next day – these results skew the median for rain after a dry St Swithin’s to just 2 days!

Another interesting observation is that the 40-day period that followed a dry St Swithin’s is on average 13% WETTER than if it rained on July 15th.

So what does this mean for the rest of July and the summer? Looking back at other years that have seen a mostly dry and warm pattern in the run up to St Swithin’s Day we should see a continuation of frequently dry, warm and sunny conditions, interspersed with rainy days and, perhaps, thundery breakdowns. A typical British summer!

Putting superstition and singularities aside current weather models back this up.

St Swithun's reputation as a weather saint is said to have arisen from the translation of his body from a lowly grave to its golden shrine within Winchester cathedral, having been delayed by incessant rain for 40 days
St Swithin’s reputation as a weather saint is said to have arisen from the translation of his body from a lowly grave to its golden shrine within Winchester cathedral, having been delayed by incessant rain for 40 days

St Swithin was born around 800AD and died on July 2, 862, at Winchester, Hampshire. According to historians he was fond of building churches in places where there were none. St Swithin, who was bishop of Winchester, was buried in the churchyard of the Old Minster at Winchester, where passers by might tread on his grave and where the rain from the eaves might fall on it.

His reputation as a weather saint is said to have arisen from the translation of his body from this lowly grave to its golden shrine within the cathedral, having been delayed by incessant rain for 40 days.

The basis of the St Swithin’s saying follows the fact that by July 15th summer weather patterns are already well established and tend to persist through the coming weeks.

In meterological terms the position of the frontal zone around the end of June to early July, indicated by the position of the jet stream, determines the general weather patterns (hot, cold, dry, wet) for the rest of the summer. Like a little stream in its bed, the frontal zone tends to ‘dig in’ shortly after the summer solstice.

As the path of our weather systems is controlled by the jet stream, a more southerly location of the frontal zone – as happened last year – is likely to bring unsettled, wet and cool weather. On the other hand, a frontal zone shifted further to the north – as is happening this year – will help the Azores high to build over western Europe, thus bringing dry and pleasant weather to the UK.

Other western European countries also have similar St Swithin’s day sayings – that follow the principle rule. In France they say ‘Quand il pleut a la Saint Gervais Il pleut quarante jours apres’ – If it rains on St. Gervais’ day (July 19th), it will rain for fourty days afterward.
In Germany the Siebenschlaefer or seven sleepers day (July 7th, after the Gregorian calendar) refers to the weather patterns of the following seven weeks.

How accurate is Wanstead weather station?

The hottest July day on record was recorded at Heathrow airport on Wednesday 1st. The 36.7C recorded between 1500 and 1530 exceeded the previous record of 36.5C set at the Royal Horticultural Garden at Wisley, Surrey, in 2006.

The meteo is sited on the Aldersbrook Estate and uploads data to the web every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day
The meteo is sited on the Aldersbrook Estate and uploads data to the web every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day

I recorded 36.1C in Wanstead, a reading that exceeded the previous July record of 35.9C set in 1868 – indeed it was the fourth highest temperature this area has seen since local records began in 1848.

Already, however, questions have arisen over the validity of the Heathrow value mainly because the official measurement far exceeded that of Northolt, an airfield and the closest official station, which recorded 35.7C, a full degree cooler.

I’ve always been a bit sceptical on the validity of airport readings – there’s a lot more concrete at Heathrow than Northolt and obviously far more jet engines. The previous July record at Wisley is surely far more representative of standard conditions? I fear that with a new runway Heathrow will only get hotter and, perhaps, a review of the official MetO station should be taken.

I’m often asked why my own station is not used for official readings. The simple answer is that, being in a suburban garden, it is too sheltered to qualify for the open exposure that the Met Office demands.

But, apart from the exposure, everything is as representative as possible to conditions set by the Met Office. When readings differ it is simply because the character of the area is warmer or colder than official stations, the closest of which is St James’s Park.

maxima
Maxima for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
minima
Minima for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness

To try to quantify this I’ve had a look at all the official stations around Greater London throughout June. The results show that readings from Wanstead are remarkably similar to other stations.

I first had a look at maxima which revealed that Wanstead is 0.3C warmer than Heathrow and 0.6C warmer than St James’s Park.

mean
Mean for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
rain
Rainfall for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness

Minima, on the other hand, revealed that Wanstead was 0.5C cooler than Heathrow and 0.9C cooler than St James’s Park – a stark illustration of how much warmer inner London is than the suburbs.

This obviously had a bearing on the mean temperatures of the region, Wanstead being 1.1C cooler than Heathrow and 1.2C cooler than St James’s Park.

In terms of rainfall Wanstead was wettest, but only by 4mm.

So, all in all, the weather station at Wanstead is a pretty good measure of our local climate, as close as possible to what official conditions for measurement of climate demand.

I am currently in the process of trying to find a site local to the area that will fulfil Met Office conditions but it is a long, drawn-out process that will take time to organise.

Maxima for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James's Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
Maxima for stations near Wanstead
SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
Minima for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James's Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
Minima for stations near Wanstead
SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
Mean for stations near Wanstead SJP: St James's Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness
Mean for stations near Wanstead
SJP: St James’s Park, LHR: Heathrow, NTH: Northolt, KEN: Kenley, WAN: Wanstead, GRV: Gravesend, SHO: Shoeburyness

Overnight thunderstorms of July 4th 2015

If you like thunderstorms Wanstead seems to be leading something of a charmed life these past couple of years.

The storm at 23:43
The storm at 23:43

Two years ago I wrote a blog asking what had happened to decent summer thunderstorms that were so common during my youth in the 1980s. Last night was the fourth time Wanstead has experienced a really good light show, complete with multiple lightning strikes and Hammer Horror-esque thunderclaps. The first storm passed over at 23:43, delivering 3.7mm rain at a rate of 20mm/hr. Another followed shortly after at 23:58, a pressure trace revealed a 1mb fall as the storm passed through. Nothing special as I have seen a 6mb drop in similar circumstances. By this time the sky was alive with lightning – yet again I failed to capture any lightning bolt but did manage to photograph my garden at the moment night became day – the world’s most powerful flashgun!

The radar picture of the storm at 23:58
The radar picture of the storm at 23:58
What would you give for a flashgun this powerful? The storm at its peak at 00:22
What would you give for a flashgun this powerful? The storm at its peak at 00:22

At 00:19pm occurred the brightest flash of lightning almost instantly followed by a very loud crack of thunder, the kind you hear on those Hammer Horror films with Peter Cushing. Looking at the rainfall of weather stations around the south-east it appears that Wanstead was in the thick of the action, clocking up 20.1mm of rain and second only to Bedford. The amount represents 47% of what normally falls in an average July. As always in these situations some places get a deluge while others remain almost dry.

There was 112,833 lightning strikes across UK & Ireland between 9pm and 9am on July 4th Image courtesy of Blitzortung
There was 112,833 lightning strikes across UK & Ireland between 9pm and 9am on July 4th
Image courtesy of Blitzortung

Looking further afield around London an observer in Blackheath reported an hour to 90 minutes of ‘roaringly good storminess’ that brought a house party to an abrupt end. He counted 15 flashes of lightning a minute, lots of CC but a few CGs too, including one close as the storm kicked off.

Elsewhere an observer in Highams Park reported 30 flashes per minute. In Dorset another observer 50mm of rain, most of which fell in an hour. The storm that tracked over the Salisbury region had what seemed like 3x the lightning of the storms in the SE corner.

Forecasting of the event was handled better by some agencies than others. For location accuracy the MeteoGroup discussion had an edge over the Met Office.

The Trappes (Paris) ‘loaded gun’ ascent for July 3 can be found here – warm / dry layers between 900 and 800 hPa and ~2000 J/kg of CAPE, with high CAPE values expanding aerially as the trough neared. Approach of the trough caused cooling aloft – not sufficient for the capping inversion to break around Paris itself but farther west and north.

Lightning streamers were visible moments before each thunderbolt. These come out of the ground to meet the main bolt - a sure sign that Wanstead was right underneath a cell
Lightning streamers were visible moments before each thunderbolt. These come out of the ground to meet the main bolt – a sure sign that Wanstead was right underneath a cell
A pressure trace at 11am on July 4th shows the peaks and troughs during the storm
A pressure trace at 11am on July 4th shows the peaks and troughs during the storm
Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 18.29.02
This table shows the most notable thunderstorms that have passed over Wanstead during the past two years

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 16.32.55

June 2015: a little above average, very dry

June finished hot in complete contrast to the opening few days which were a continuation of a disappointing May.station

There were six occasions when the maximum exceeded 25C – the highest being 30.8C on 30th, the warmest June day for four years.

Mean temperature for the month was 16.9C, 0.8C above the 1981-2010 mean. Rainfall of 17.5mm was 34% of average – the last three Junes have been notably dry.

There were 189.5 hours of sunshine recorded in this area which is 106% of what we can expect to see during an average June. The wettest day occurred on the 20th with 11.1mm. There were two days of thunder recorded.

So what has July got in store weatherwise? The models this morning (July 1st) suggest a battleground between Atlantic cooler air and hot continental air, a common feature at this time of year. The persistent heat on the continent looks like it will waft back and forth across the south-east – creating the risk of thundery downpours as it meets resistance from successive cold fronts.

Just 17.5mm of rain fell in June - 34% of average
Just 17.5mm of rain fell in June – 34% of average

The model output suggests the Atlantic air will eventually win through, allowing more changeable conditions in a week’s time. There is also a signal that high pressure will re-establish with a return to fine and very warm weather. As things stand the models remain finely balanced.

In contrast to the models my long range method suggests overwhelmingly that we are in for a warm July, up to 1.7C above average, at 60% probability

The next highest chance is for rather warm at 40% probability. If you add the probabilities together the chance of a rather warm to warm July can be put at 100% – perhaps a repeat of last year’s and 2013’s classic July is about to unfold?

Rainfall is looking below average, at 60% probability. There’s obviously a risk here that a couple of direct hits from thunderstorms would see the monthly total exceeded. I don’t have enough data to estimate sunshine but I would guess average to slightly above.

My June outlook was only good in that it ruled out any chance of a very warm month – the final mean was rather higher than I thought. I was also out with the very low rainfall – the signal was for something average. Sunshine was broadly average as I’d estimated

The Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park is suffering low water levels again
The Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park is suffering from low water levels again

Full stats for the month here: http://1drv.ms/1rSfT7Y

Here follows the full weather diary for June…

1st Sunny, bright start quickly turned cloudy with intermittent drizzle through the day. Turned windy at 6pm and was really blowing around midnight.
2nd Drizzle in the wind at obs time and very windy, wind only decreasing by evening. A dreadful day though warm.
3rd Sunny start though cloud gradually increased. Feeling humid and summery at last.
4th Sunny start with cloud dotted with alto cumulus and cirrus. Rain between 5am and 6am – though storms passed to our west and east.
5th Bright start after earlier rain – the thunderstorms seemed to pass to our west and east. Very humid and felt oppresive in the morning.
6th Sunny start with cloud bubbling up. Much cooler and fresher feel. Lots of long sunny spells.
7th Sunny, gin clear start. Just a few fair weather cumulus all day. Gorgeous.
8th Bright start though alto cumulus shaded early sun. Variable cumulus after that – feeling chilly.
9th Cloudy and brisk wind from NE. Feeling chilly.
10th Bright start with sunny intervals throughout the day.
11th Sunny start with few cirrus, sky then completely cleared.
12th Sunny start though cloud bubbled up through the day – felt very close at sports day. Distant thunder heard at 8pm with light rain – much less than was threatened.
13th Cloudy start, mostly calm, still and dull – a real nothing day though some late brightness after 2pm pushed up the temperature briefly. Mild overnight with some light drizzle before obs time.
14th Drizzle in the wind up until 11pm and falling temp. Then a brief sunny interlude before it was cloudy again.
15th Cloudy start then briefly clearing before, at 1pm, more cloud appeared. Clear overnight allowing temp to fall until 4.10am but clouding over by morning – bright warm sunshine at 9am.
16th Sunny start but very cloudy at times. This continued all day – though the night was cloudier hence warmer.
17th Sunny start but with lots of cloud around.
18th Lots of long suuny spells but cooler than yesterday.
19th Cloudy up until 11.30pm and cooler. Broke to sunny spells and much warmer at 2pm.
20th Bright start though warm from started pushing through just before 1pm. Some sunny breaks but rain pushed in. Was in Cheltenham but Woodford Wells reported thunder:  Between 1650and 1730 12mm fell followed by a decreasing amount of 2.4mm up to 1814  all BST Two thunder claps at 1715 and 1728.
21st In Cheltenham it was a mostly cloudy day though with more sunny intervals after midday. Rain spread in just before midnight with more in the early hours.
22nd Cloudy start though with brief sunny break at 10am. Some drizzle 11.15am then drier with sunny intervals.
23rd Bright start. Cloud broke to give warm sunny spells .
24th Sunny periods after a rather cloudy start. Felt very warm in the sun during walk around London with Neil and family.
25th Sunny start though hazy cloud developed from 10.30am, rather obscuring the sun at times, though it was bright all day. 26th Warm till late into the evening – still 18C at 11pm.
26th Bright start though cloudy, broke to sunny spells and felt warmer than forecast.
27th Sunny start though with cloudier spells all through the day. A very warm evening.
28th Sunny start quickly became cloudy with rain turning up at noon during early lunch. This later cleared to sunny spells and a pleasant afternoon.
29th Sunny start though with high cloud obscuring the sun at times.
30th Sunny, gin clear all day. only ‘cloud’ was distant grass fire.

The 30th was wall-to-wall sunshine until late in the evening when alto-cumulus and cumulus were observed
The 30th was wall-to-wall sunshine until late in the evening when alto-cumulus and cumulus were observed