Category Archives: London weather

London’s November extremes since 1959

I’ve put together a few top 10s of stats for Wanstead, St James’s Park and Heathrow for the month of November.

Probably most notable is how the month in 2010 lurched from being so warm at the start to so cold three weeks later, setting up December to be one of the coldest on record.

wanstead

November SJP

heathrow

Some national UK November values according to TORRO

Hottest: 21.7C Prestatyn, Clwyd – 4th 1946
Coldest: -23.3C Braemar, Grampian – 14th 1919
Wettest: 211.1mm Lluest Wen Reservoir, Rhondda – 11th 1929

November climatology

In terms of climatology November maxima, considering the 1981-2010 average, shows a steady fall until the 15th. And another steady fall to the 22nd before things level off. This would reflect the November singularities; St Martin’s Summer, between 15th and 21st, peaking on the 18th, occurs in 66 per cent of years. The Early December storms singularity can arrive this month, on the 24th, the air off the Atlantic raising the mean temperature.

november average maxima

The average rainfall graphic shows that downpour amounts are variable through the month. A tendency for dry weather around the 15th reflects the St Martin’s Summer singularity.

november rain

This graphic shows the average 9am air pressure in November since 2013.

pressure

 

 

 

 

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October 2017: warm, very dry and dull

October 2017 was a very dry month. Just 12.6mm of rain were recorded, the driest October since 1995 and the 11th driest since 1797.

The monthly mean finished 13.1C, 1.3C above average and the seventh warmer than average month this year.

Some 81 hours of sunshine were recorded, 76 per cent of average – the 4th duller than average month in a row. Just three months have been sunnier than normal in 2017!

Air frosts: 0, Ground frosts: 2

The first half of November looks like it will be predominantly anticyclonic. Expect lots of calm weather with the usual frost and fog.

Here follows the full weather diary for October…Full stats for the month here:http://1drv.ms/1rSfT7Y

Summary for October 2017
Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)  13.2
Mean (min+max)   13.1
Mean Minimum     9.7
Mean Maximum     16.6
Minimum          0.9 day 29
Maximum          22.2 day 16
Highest Minimum  15.8 day 13
Lowest Maximum   11.3 day 30
Air frosts       0
Rainfall (mm):
Total for month  12.6
Wettest day      2.8 day 18
High rain rate   12.1 day 11
Rain days        8
Dry days         23
Wind (mph):
Highest Gust     23.5 day 02
Average Speed    3.4
Wind Run         2495.1 miles
Gale days        0
Pressure (mb):
Maximum          1034.0 day 27
Minimum          996.3 day 19
Days with snow falling         0
Days with snow lying at 0900   0
Total hours of sunshine        0.0

 

30 years on from Low M: the Great Storm

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm. Some 18 people were killed as winds gusting to nearly 100mph affected London and the South East. Around 15 million trees were lost with Sevenoaks in Kent losing six of its seven historic trees.

gusts
Courtesy of the Met Office

The rapid development of ‘Low M’ took forecasters by surprise, the favoured outcome was for the low to move up through Brittany, remaining in or to the south of the English Channel.

I was living in a fairly sheltered corner of the London borough of Havering in 1987. I remember heavy rain just before midnight, around three hours before the storm reached its height, was heavy enough to send water trickling into my room, thanks to an overflowing roof valley. I thought it strange that Michael Fish hadn’t mentioned its severity in his lunchtime forecast.

I was awoken around 3.30am by a loud crash. Looking out the window I saw two dustbins flying down the road. You could sense each gust building in strength – the next dislodged a roof tile, sending it crashing on to the family car. By this point my mum and sister had awoken, my sister swearing she could feel the whole house moving: Mum ordered us downstairs. By this point the power had gone off and we sat listening to a small battery-operated transistor radio. We listened to updates from BBC Radio London where, like most other people, nobody knew what the hell was going on. The storm continued and first light gradually revealed the damage in the garden – a couple of trees over and next-door’s shed on its side; nothing compared to the rest of the region. But the disruption meant I didn’t attend school that day.

The storm was obviously a weather nut’s dream, and following so close on the heels of the coldest January I can remember. John Hall, of Surrey, can remember the storm well: “I’m not normally a very heavy sleeper, but I somehow managed to sleep through the worst of it (in Cranleigh, then as now).

“It was still windy when I woke around 7 am, but presumably not nearly as much as it had been earlier. By some miracle we still had mains power, and it was only when I switched on the radio and there was no sign of Radio 4 that I realised that something was up. (I assume the transmitter must have been damaged.) I walked the half-mile to the centre of the village to get my morning paper and then to catch the bus to Guildford station for my journey to work.

“It was only then that I learnt from the newsagent that there were no papers and wouldn’t be any buses, as every road in and out of the village was blocked by fallen trees. So I went home, switched on the TV and learnt all about what had happened.”

Dave Cornwell, of Laindon, south Essex, said: “Quite exciting but scary for me at home in Laindon. I awoke probably around 3.00 am to the sound of a metal dustbin lid (remember those?) flying down the street.

“Things sounded pretty bad and my sixth sense told me this was no ordinary windy night. I got up and looked outside and there was stuff flying by and lots of strange noises. One was my plastic gutter blown down and banging against the side of the house. I can’t be certain of the timings but we awakened our two young daughters and took them downstairs as I was worried as they slept in a room with a flat roof dormer window and there was a tall brick chimney stack directly above it. I heard more crashing sounds which unfortunately turned out to be a couple of roof tiles landing on my car roof which was parked in the drive. Of course with no internet then I did what a lot of people did and tuned into the police FM radio network. This gave me a better realisation that it was serious as they were describing the carnage on the roads and all of the emergency calls they and the fire brigade were getting.

“At about 5.30am I ventured out into my driveway to see if there was any serious damage but the storm was still raging and I can honestly say I couldn’t stand up and was unable to keep my balance so went back indoors. I think the wind speed was probably over 100mph at this point being funneled down the side of the house which runs south-north.

“By 8.00 o’clock I was getting ready for work and although by then people were being advised to stay at home I worked in a fairly essential service so thought I would give it a try. I managed to get to East London but there was debris everywhere and I saw a car completely crushed by a one of many trees that were blocking some side roads.

“Another thing I noticed that evening was my south facing windows had a layer of salt on them which must have been blown in from the south coast 60 miles away. It was a sight I’ll never forget and to this day I don’t like strong winds (had a scary flight at Heathrow in a severe gale as well) and always get a nervous feeling if I hear the wind getting up. Probably the most dangerous weather I have experienced anywhere in my lifetime.”

Much has been written about the storm, a ‘once in 500 year event’, including this summary by the Met Office. There is also an excellent paper by Bob Prichard published in Weather. The synoptic charts below show how Low M develops from 1200 on the 15th to 1800 on the 16th.

 

 

 

 

Because of widespread power cuts many television viewers didn’t see this recording of ITV’s Good Morning Britain at the time of transmission. A round up of the immediate aftermath of the storm, including comments from Jack Scott, can be seen in this edition of Thames News.

The following Daily Weather Report was published by the London Weather Centre:

An intense, and almost certainly exceptional, depression crossed the coast of south Devon soon after midnight, moving quickly, and deepening rapidly, with a track across the Midlands and out towards the Humber Estuary, leaving the United Kingdom land area around 0700 hours.

Some very severe conditions due to storm force winds were generated around the southern and eastern flank of the low, with gusts from approximately 0200 hours well in excess of 70 knots, and reaching a peak in the period 0300 hours to 0700 hours, with gusts to 90 knots reported from Herstmonceux and St Catherine’s Point in the early hours, and similar value gusts from the Channel Islands. The very stormy conditions were accompanied by some heavy rain, this rain pushing into Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland after dawn.

Clearer weather, on westerly winds, swept across southern Britain, pushing the worst of the stormy winds away into the North Sea. During the afternoon the country settled down to a blustery westerly with some heavy and thundery showers developing in clusters, running especially into western and southern coastal regions and parts of southeast England.

Across Scotland and northern England the skies remained cloudy, with outbreaks of mostly light rain, but troughs enhanced the showers in the northwest later in the evening with heavy rain. It was a rather cold day in most places, although the temperatures were near normal in the south­east.

The storm remains the most severe I have experienced in this part of the UK. The Burns’ Day storm in 1990 brought severe gale force winds in the London area but the low pressure was centred much further north.

mail

The most recent severe windstorm in the London area, the St Jude Day storm of 2013, brought strong winds but nothing on a par with 1987.

 

 

The anniversary of the storm, complete with a question and answer session attended by Michael Fish, will be marked at the Royal Met Society’s WeatherLive event in November.

weatherlive

September 2017: average temps, rain. Dull

The first month of autumn continued in the same vein as the last month of summer .

The mean temperature finished 14.8C, 0.6C below average and very similar overall to September 2013.Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 09.34.34

Some 53.5mm of rainfall was recorded, 103% of the 1981-2010 average. Some 114 hours of sunshine were recorded, 81 per cent of average, so on the dull side.

Overall the month was typical for early autumn – though possibly felt more autumnal because it was around 3C cooler than September 2016 and much wetter and duller than that month.

As usual at this time of year there is already much speculation about how cold the coming winter may, or may not, be. Winter has arrived over Siberia and early season snow cover is predicted to increase over the next week. However, the factor of early snow over Siberia being a sign of a cold winter to come in NW Europe is is only one piece of the jigsaw and I have seen it proved wrong a few times.

 

Summary for September 2017
Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)  14.4
Mean (min+max)   14.8
Mean Minimum     10.7
Mean Maximum     18.9
Minimum          5.3 day 21
Maximum          22.7 day 04
Highest Minimum  16.7 day 04
Lowest Maximum   15.2 day 19
Air frosts       0

Rainfall (mm):
Total for month  53.5
Wettest day      16.1 day 27
High rain rate   16.1 day 13
Rain days        19
Dry days         11

Wind (mph):
Highest Gust     28.9 day 12
Average Speed    2.3
Wind Run         1670.8 miles
Gale days        0

Pressure (mb):
Maximum          1022.7 day 01
Minimum          989.1 day 12

Total hours of sunshine        114 (81%)

To view full stats follow this link:http://1drv.ms/1kiTuzv

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 09.01.01

 

The wettest summer in 20 years

The 8th and 9th of August 2017 has produced probably the most miserable weather of this summer.

A rainfall event that began just after 8am on the 9th deposited nearly 36mm of rain in the Wanstead area over 14 hours.

The 09-09 total of 33.7mm made it the fourth greatest daily August rainfall since 1960.

The heaviest rain fell in a fairly narrow band, as shown by the official 24hr totals on ogimet.com. The low pressure system also produced a lot of rain for the east coast in the previous 24hrs with Bridlington recording over 56mm.

The rain brings the summer total to 207.7mm, just 0.6mm short of the amount recorded in 1997. Though it has been wet it is still a long way short of the wettest summer on record: some 391mm were recorded here in 1903.

In terms of temperature it has been a chilly start to August; the mean temp currently stands 1.2C below the whole month average. Considering CET it has been the coldest start to the month for 30 years.

July 2017: wettest since 1960

July 2017 was the wettest since 1960. Some 92.3mm of rain were recorded which is 212 per cent of the 1981-2010 average.finger cloud on 7th

Although the opening third of the month saw a continuation of the June heatwave temperatures gradually returned to normal values to leave the mean for the month at 19.2C, that’s 0.7C above average.

With all the rain sunshine totals were down. Some 167 hours were recorded, that’s 87% of average.

Though the rainfall total was impressive it is well short of the record of 164.2mm set in 1834, and is only 35th in the list going back to 1797.underlit

Summary for July 2017

Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute) 18.9
Mean (min+max) 19.2
Mean Minimum 14.7
Mean Maximum 23.7
Minimum 9.4 day 12
Maximum 30.5 day 07
Highest Minimum 18.3 day 06
Lowest Maximum 19.0 day 24
Air frosts 0

Rainfall (mm):
Total for month 92.3
Wettest day 30.8 day 11
High rain rate 56.4 day 29
Rain days 10
Dry days 21

Wind (mph):
Highest Gust 17.4 day 27
Average Speed 2.9
Wind Run 2163.5 miles
Gale days 0

Pressure (mb):
Maximum 1024.2 day 16
Minimum 996.8 day 31

Total hours of sunshine 167

In terms of the rest of the summer a look at the ECMWF control run out to 10 days suggests an unsettled start to August with the jetstream centred right over the top of the UK. Things may improve as the Azores high attempts to exert more influence – so perhaps more in the way of sunshine than of late. In terms of heatwaves it is impossible to tell at this range.mid level

Here follows the full weather diary for July. To view full stats follow this link:http://1drv.ms/1kiTuzv

1st: Cloudy but with sunny spells developing, these growing longer in length by evening.
2nd: Sunny with just a few light cumulus.
3rd: Sunny start though with plenty of cloud around, this tending to thicken after lunch with odd spot of rain.
4th: Sunny and very warm early then tended to cloud over before sun returned in the late afternoon and evening. Some very unstable low to mid level cloud.
5th: Sunny with just a few cirro-cumulus. Feeling very warm with cloud bubbling up in the evening, however forecast storms failed to materialise.
6th: Sunny with cirrus and dotted cumulus. This tended to thicken late morning though sun stayed out and became hot and humid.
7th: Sunny with lots of high-level cirrus and cumulus most of the day.
8th: Bright but mostly cloudy start, the cloud tending to vary through the day. Sunny after 4pm. Warm overnight.
9th: Bright but mostly cloudy start, the cloud tending to break and vary through the day.
10th: A mostly sunny morning and lunchtime until 2pm when it clouded over.
11th: Cloudy with some bright breaks at first. Cloud thickening with rain by noon, this falling sporadically before getting going after 5pm and stopping by 3am.
12th: Cloudy, damp and close start.
13th: Sunny with variable cloud until noon when there were just bright spells.
14th: Cloudy but with a few breaks around mid morning. Turning cloudy again before sunny spells in the evening.
15th: Cloudy with some sporadic rain as warm front blew through and close. Very limited brightness.
16th: Cloudy with some bright spells. Feeling warm and humid.
17th:Sunny with just a few cirrus drifting around. Feeling hot, cloud thickened from the west in the late afternoon.
18th: Sunny with variable cirrus and cirro cumulus through the day. Feeling very warm. Storms began building with supercell to west of London and over Chilterns.
19th: Cloudy, dull start and very humid with heavy mist – the cloud tended to lift to give sunny spells in the afternoon.
20th: Drizzle after shower before obs time, then showers through to 1pm.
21st: Cloudy start but with sunny spells developing. Clouded over in evening with intermittent heavy rain at 11pm and through the early hours.
22nd: Cloudy but with sunny intervals developing around noon. Heavy showers developing with thunder at 2.30pm and 3.07pm.
23rd: Bright with variable cloud
24th: Cloudy with light, showery rain from northerly airstream that originated in the Med.
25th: Cloudy with light rain just after obs time.
26th: Cloudy with occasionally rain. Feeling warm and a late clearance. Breezy and chilly overnight.
27th: Cloudy but bright and sunny spells developing. A very heavy shower at 1pm.
28th: Bright start but clouding over.
29th: Sunny start with cloud increasing after noon to leave overcast before patchy rain moved in. This falling more heavily at 5pm before clearing to further showers. More rain overnight before a strong squall arrived at 2.45am and lasted an hour with further bursts of rain through the night –  two claps of thunder and lightening during squall.
30th: Sunny with variable cloud through the day. Very warm in the sunshine
31st: Sunny with variable cloud throughout the day.

Phew! What a scorcher…

I’ve seen this phrase uttered more than once over the past couple of days thanks to high temperatures and humidity. But ask anyone to define a hot day and you’ll get a different answer every time.

Growing up in the 1970s / 80s redtop newspapers would use the phrase once the mercury was nudging 80F (26.7C). But to ‘scorch’ you need sunshine, preferably at least 10 hours of it. Considering statistics from the Heathrow airport climate station in west London there have been 463 scorchers since 1959, the most recent happening on July 5th with 29.5C recorded and 13.9 hours of sunshine. There have now been 9 scorchers this year, already matching the number that were recorded in 2014 and only 3 short of last year.

But even with last month’s heatwave this year has some way to go, however, to match the amount measured in 1976 and 1995: 31 days!

scorchers

 

June 2017: very warm

June 2017 has been a month of real contrasts. A thundery deluge on the 2nd was followed by conditions typically brought by the European monsoon.

rainfall
24hr rainfall totals

Warm weather followed in the second week before a full-blown heatwave arrived bringing the hottest June spell since 1976.

The mean temperature for the month finished at 18.9C, that’s 2.8C above average. It was the second warmest June in a local record going back to 1797. Though it was only 0.4C cooler than 1976 it was also much wetter than that very dry month.

Though it appeared a wet month, over two-thirds of the recorded rain fell in two episodes.

Sunshine for the month was 202.3hrs, 114% of average.

In terms of the rest of the summer you would be forgiven for thinking that we have already had more than our fair share of good weather. One way of looking at it is to count the number of days the mercury rises above 25C with 10 hrs of sunshine. Since May that has happened on 13 occasions – far higher than anything in the past four years.june heat

It will be interesting to see if July and August, normally the months where we get most of our summery weather are as good as June.

Summary for June 2017
Temperature (°C):
Mean (min+max)   18.9
Mean Minimum     13.8
Mean Maximum     23.9
Minimum          9.9 day 12
Maximum          31.5 day 21
Highest Minimum  21.1 day 21
Lowest Maximum   16.7 day 28
Air frosts       0
Rainfall (mm):
Total for month  71.1 (138.9%)
Wettest day      31.2 day 02
High rain rate   108.4 day 02
Rain days        8
Dry days         22
Wind (mph):
Highest Gust     27.3 day 05
Average Speed    3.5
Wind Run         2550.5 miles
Gale days        1
Pressure (mb):
Maximum          1025.0 day 16
Minimum          984.2 day 05
Total hours of sunshine        202.3
Here follows the full weather diary for June. To view full stats follow this link:http://1drv.ms/1kiTuzv

1st: Sunny with scattered cumulus through the morning, the cloud thicker during the day.
2nd: Cloudy start though brightening up with long sunny spells. Cloud bubbled up and a heavy thunderstorm moved in at 3.15pm and lasted an hour. Sunny again by 6pm.
3rd: Bright start with decreasing cloud.
4th: Sunny start though cloud bubbling up late morning into early afternoon. Cloudy and breezy with a few spots of rain at dusk.
5th: Cloudy and very breezy start. Bright at times.
6th: Rain and very windy to start with gale force 9 in Channel. Rain lasted into the early afternoon before clearing to bright spells. Odd shower overnight but remained blustery with a few trees down. Flowering cherry fell at mum’s at 6.30pm.
7th: Sunny with long sunny spells. An area of rain after dark then overcast through the night.
8th: Cloudy and breezy, a shower at noon and some bright spells at 1pm.
9th: Sunny though breezy with lots of cloud. Spots of rain in the wind.
10th: Sunny and warm start with lots of sunshine. Very breezy.
11h: Sunny and feeling very humid but breezy. Alternating between very warm sunshine and cloud. Very brief few drops of rain at dusk then mostly cloudy night.
12th: Sunny periods throughout the day. Cloudier at times. Clear overnight with warm, sunny start.
13th: Sunny, clear start and feeling warm early.
14th: Sunny most of the day with odd cumulus. Very warm though turning a bit fresher overnight.
15th: Sunny morning though with more cloud than yesterday. A fresh breeze developing.
16th: Sunny with variable cloud. Warm.
17th: Sunny though lots of hazy cumulus.
18th: Sunny though much cloud amid the humidity. Felt airless with only limited breeze. Oppressive overnight.
19th: Sunny with cloud decreasing
20th: Bright start though cloud breaking at 11am to leave clear afternoon with just a couple of cumulus.
21st: Sunny and hot all day with patchy cirrus. Warmest June day since 1976 at Heathrow 33.9C. Warm overnight but more of a breeze. Sunny early.
22nd: Very brief rain shower at obs time then sunny intervals. Cooler but still humid. Very breezy overnight.
23rd: Long sunny spells with hazy cumulus. Although cooler still hot in the sunshine. Cooler overnight and breezy.
24th: Mostly cloudy though bright. A sharp shower in the evening.
25th: Bright though mostly cloudy. A couple of bursts of drizzle but then sunny spells late evening.
26th: Sunny with lots of cirrus, cirrocumlus and a fallstreak hole in the sky. Warm but low humidity.
27th Sunny start though sun becoming scarce. Patchy light rain at 10.30am and thunder then a heavy shower at 3.45pm. Rain in the evening that lasted into the early hours.
28th: Cloudy and very dull at times with very light drizzle. Humid.
29th: Cloudy though bright with some sunny intervals.
30th Sunny though with lots of cloud. Decreasing cloud in the afternoon and a pleasant evening.

Hot spell is minnow among historic heatwaves

Heatwave hype has been building over the past few days and, for once, the media has been justified in its coverage of the current spell.

Temperatures over the past few days have been enough for the Met Office to trigger its Heath-Health Watch whereby the mean temperature (an average of the maximum and minimum) for two consecutive days reaches 23.5C.

A couple of years ago I compiled a list of heatwaves for this area back to 1852 where the mean temperature reaches at least 23.5C three days running. This spell, the only other June heatwave (the other being 1976!), only just scrapes into the list.

Although it felt hot this spell, in terms of Premier League quality, was more Middlesbrough than Chelsea.heatwave table

june heatForecasters say today is likely to be the hottest June day for 40 years though I’d be surprised if we exceed the 34.2C recorded on June 27th 2011. It would be the fifth day running that 30C has been reached in this area, enough to fulfil the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) definition of a heatwave.

Whatever happens today the fact that the heat has been produced by a tropical maritime airmass is remarkable. With France and Spain recording some very high temperatures of late the same pattern in July and August could put more records at risk of being broken.

This week marks the 41st anniversary of the start of probably the finest British summer in history, but anyone hoping that yet another parallel with the 1970s is about to come true should take a look at the latest model runs.

june low
The latest GFS operational run suggests a much cooler, more unsettled end to June – a polar opposite of 1976…

 

 

Poor start to June? That’ll be the Euro monsoon

Widespread heavy rain and gales across the UK have made the start of summer feel very unseasonal. But the conditions, which follow an extended period of mostly dry weather, are very typical for early June.

june rainfall with record
The pattern for June over the past 10 years reveals the month often starts unsettled before drying up in the final week

The ‘NW European monsoon’ is one of the most reliable ‘singularities’ on the annual weather calendar. Though it sounds very unscientific that the atmosphere can remember how it behaved on a certain date in previous years much statistical work over the past 170 years highlight tendencies for unusual weather at particular times of the year. These tendencies were first identified by the German climatologist, A.Schmauss, in 1938.

While the pattern isn’t set in stone statistics show that the probability of the euro monsoon occurring between June 1st and 21st is 77 per cent.

GFS rain to 15th
The GFS operational run suggests an unsettled outlook

One of the most notable inclement spells of weather in June happened during the D-Day landings in 1944.

With the changes in ice at the North and South Poles, together with the massive positive temperature anomalies last winter,  it would be thought logical that this would have some bearing on the general pattern this year. But polar ice is only one variable to consider when trying to predict the world’s climate.