Category Archives: Drought

A winter drought

Rain today (January 16th) is the first meaningful fall since before Christmas, putting an end to the 23-day long dry spell.

This meteorological drought, rare given that it spanned Christmas and New Year Storm singularities, these having 84 and 86 per cent probabilities respectively, was the 3rd equal longest winter drought.

The only other similar droughts in a list that dates back to 1887 were 19/12/2008 – 03/01/2009 and 17/12/1972 – 02/01/1973.

winter droughts

The last precipitation I recorded was from a weak occlusion that followed a cold front on the evening of December 23rd.

This synoptic set-up was followed by a build in air pressure that peaked on the morning of January 3rd; 1043.8mb was the highest reading in this area for at least 10 years and is the highest pressure I have measured.

A fuller version of London droughts in all seasons can be found here.


London droughts back to 1871

A thunderstorm on July 27th has ended a dry spell that lasted nearly 7 weeks in east London. As storms go it was a fairly tame affair, just 1.3mm fell, the first rain in 47 days, 20 hours and 14 mins.

drought rankThere are many descriptions of drought but the one I am using here, for sheer simplicity of comparison back to 1871, is the definition used up until the 1990s; that is 15 consecutive days with less than 0.25mm (0.01 inches) rain on any one day.

Meteorological droughts occur in most years though obviously ones that occur in summer are far more noticeable than those in winter. Since 1871 there have been 35 calendar years where no drought has taken place.

The longest drought before this one in 2018, probably not surprising for those who remember it, occurred during the long hot summer of 1976. The fact that summer came on top of a very dry winter, rainfall that season was about a third of what was recorded here last winter, meant that water supplies were in a much worse state, with hosepipe bans common.

Other drought years to feature include 1959, which saw the 3rd sunniest summer on record, 1929 and 1995, a summer which saw one of the hottest heatwaves on record.

For the stats I’ve used local rainfall figures back to 1959 and then stats used at Kew to 1871.

individual droughts
This graphic shows droughts were most common between 2000 and 1921. Apart from this year the length of droughts seems to be declining

Looking at the results more closely I’ve divided them into their meteorological seasons.

spring drought

summer drought

autumn drought

winter drought