I took this short video during approach and landing at Alexandros Papadiamantis airport, Skiathos, in August 2016.
As you can see the weather was sunny, around 32C with light winds. Because of the short runway if the weather is less than perfect airliners sometimes get diverted to the mainland, necessitating a ferry crossing – though, in four years of visiting, I’ve only had one unscheduled stop on departure – if the plane is full the aircraft can only be partly filled with fuel.
The spectacle of jets landing has also become a must do for tourists who stand at the end of the runway waiting to get blasted during close encounters with landing aircraft.
It’s a beautiful island in the Sporades and was where, along with Skopelos, provided the backdrop to the film Mamma Mia! Because it is very green I’ve found it doesn’t get overly hot like other parts of Greece.
Indeed, in all the years we’ve visited there has always been one stormy day before the weather clears again.
Weather models are hinting that this coming bank holiday weekend could be very warm indeed, with one WX Charts animation suggesting that a positive anomaly of 12C could be possible on Monday.
A date record looks a formality and, unless there’s a downgrade, new monthly high temperature records at stations across the south-east look a possibility.
While it looks very warm it is too early to start talking about heatwaves. And, considering the pattern since late February, with hot and cold alternating weekly, a brief return to much cooler conditions at the beginning of June can’t be ruled out.
The British record high temperature for May is 32.8C, reached on two occasions:
Camden Square, London May 22nd 1922. The same station recorded this value again on May 29th 1944, along with Regents Park, Horsham and Tunbridge Wells.
The national date record for the 28th, according to TORRO, is 30.6C at Camden Square.
Locally the highest temperature recorded in this area in May is 32.1C on May 27th 2005. The date record I recorded is 26.5C in 2012.
The media are up to their old tricks of flagging up their usual ‘hottest ever’ line; this time the May Day bank holiday.
Today’s Guardian informs readers that Monday could be the warmest ever May Day bank holiday, the quite unremarkable record high of 23.9C was set in 1999.
A closer look, however, reveals that dates of the holiday, which only began in 1978, are always moving. Like Easter the date shifts and can fall on any day between the 1st to the 8th. Only six early May bank holidays have occurred on the 7th. It is therefore difficult to compare like with like.
A more correct approach is to compare date records which, for the 7th since 1978, the highest is 27.1C in 2016. The highest temperature for the 7th going back 60 years is 28.5C in 1976.
The odds for snow on Christmas Day have been shortened for those that live in northern Scotland, reflecting the latest operational model runs that suggest the current mild regime will continue in the south.
The operational runs of the weather model GFS began to include Christmas Day in its forecast on December 9. Admittedly T+384 is la-la land in terms of trying to accurately predict what the weather will be like on the day but I thought it would be fun to see how the outcome changes over the next two weeks or so.
William Hill odds for snow on Christmas Day:
9th: London 5/1; Aberdeen 5/2; Edinburgh 3/1; Glasgow 3/1; Newcastle 4/1; Belfast 5/1; Birmingham 6/1; Norwich Airport 7/1; Penzance 10/1
10th: unchanged. 11th: unchanged. 12th: unchanged. 13th: unchanged. 14th: unchanged. 15th: unchanged. 16th: London 8/1; Aberdeen 7/2; Edinburgh 4/1; Glasgow 4/1; Newcastle 5/1; Belfast 5/1; Birmingham 7/1; Norwich Airport 10/1; Penzance 16/1.
My predicted outcome for London made at the beginning of December: TMax: 7C TMin: 1C Moderate westerly 60% chance of rain shower 1hr of sunshine
Please note that the outcome will change markedly from run to run, day to day. The best hint of what the weather will be like will be from T=240z (10 days) and, reliably, T+120z. If the pattern is zonal then detail can only start being pinned down at T+72z.|
Thunderstorms and prolonged heavy rain aren’t what you usually associate with the Aegean in August. So to experience three days in a row of inclement weather must be rare in this beautiful part of Europe.
Arriving at the end of a heatwave the owner of my hotel in Skiathos remarked that humidity had been particularly high though temperatures had cooled from the previous week’s level of 36C – not bad in itself but when you consider the low fell to just 27.1C those sorts of values make it impossible to sleep without air conditioning.
Sunshine on the first couple of days came to an abrupt end on the Friday night with the arrival of the first disturbance – the sound of thunder and torrential rain audible above the low buzz of the air conditioning. The storm gradually cleared in the morning to leave sunny spells by the afternoon.
This process repeated itself over the next couple of days although by the third night only heavy rain developed. Since returning to the UK I’ve had a look at statistics from a weather station located on the north of the island near Kastro. Rain totals on August 21st, 22nd and 23rd were 36.2mm, 39.2mm and 34mm respectively – bringing the total for the month to 113mm, nearly three times what fell last August. Looking at national Greek totals on Ogimet the disturbance was very localised.
The torrents of rain carved deep gorges in the paths that criss-cross the island. And during a walk from Koukounaries to Madraki part of the impacted sand/soil road down to the beach had been washed away.
Locals didn’t seem that phased by it and judging by the number of tavernas with wind down sides to their awnings it is perhaps a common feature of the climate?
Mean temperature for August was 0.3C up on last year: 27C, though the number of days of >32C was nearly half last year.
The island, part of the Sporades, is famous for being the location where the hit musical Mamma Mia was filmed – though most filming was done on neighbouring Skopelos. It’s a very green area – much more so than southern islands I’ve visited such as Ios and Crete which are arid by comparison.
During a visit to Skopelos, which has a landscape that looks almost Alpine from a distance with its pine forested hills, I was puzzled by the lack of wind turbines, especially considering how reliable wind seems to be in the surrounding waters.
Thunderstorms also played a part on our flight home. As we crossed the mountains of Macedonia and the Balkans to the north I could see vast cumulonimbus begin to form. The pilot made an excellent job of keeping turbulence to a minimum by steering us around these forces of nature – a couple of which reached above our cruising altitude of 39,000ft.
* Storms also affected Skiathos and Skopelos in September. A weather station on Skopelos reported 209.6 mm on 22nd September, with an additional 56.2mm on the day before and 49.2mm the day after. The month there has abundantly given 317mm, but this is *not* the wettest area of Greece for September so far. The very warm seas at this time of the year have given numerous places a lot of precipitation, backed up, of course, by great support aloft .
The storm caused much damaged and devastation to infrastructure in the towns in Skopelos.
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