Wanstead Meteo Bulletin (Jan 17 – 23)

The next seven days look to be remaining cold, with a risk of snow at times. The temperature will struggle to get above freezing most days – maximums are likely to average 0.1c by the end of the week. Minimums are forecast to average -4.6C – so plenty of frost around again and some very low minima possible should any snow settle. Despite warnings to the contrary by the Met Office I am not expecting Friday / Saturday’s snow event to amount to much for our area – 5cm to 8cm at most – with all of the action well to the west of us and over high ground. There’s a chance that the front will fragment before reaching us – or even stalling over southern England before “pivoting” away into France. This scenario has happened many times before when we’ve had a “block” of very cold air to our east and north-east as we do now. Another event looks possible on Tuesday – but don’t be surprised if we see very little snow.

The past week, as discussed in the last bulletin, saw a change to progressively colder weather, the change being very marked last Wednesday with the appearance of the sun after days of cloud and gloom. The murk and cloud returned though it stayed cold, by Saturday with a chill east wind. Sunday failed to bring the predicted snow – the front just wasn’t powerful enough against the cold block to our east. However, Monday was different and snow began to fall around 5am on Monday, giving a 1cm covering. The track of the low saw a warm sector pass over up, raising the dew point and turning the snow to rain at low levels. Epping and areas of a similar height managed to remain snowy.

Mean temp: 1.2C; Mean min -0.8C (0.2c warmer than forecast), Mean max 3.1C (1.1c warmer than forecast),

lowest min -3.5C(15th), highest max 4.7C (3rd), total rain 3.9mm

4 air frosts

Advertisements

Wanstead Meteo Bulletin (Jan 10 – 16)

“The River Lea is now firmly frozen, and the Thames so much encumbered with ice that navigation is scarcely practible.”

Saturday (January 12) represents the 199th anniversary of this event noted by Luke Howard in “The Climate of London” – a pioneering book on the study of urban climate, which contained continuous daily observations on temperature, rainfall and wind direction. Temperatures the following week of the severe winter of 1813/14 at his laboratory in Plaistow, just a few miles from here, are hard to imagine by today’s standards in the capital – the average maximum being -2.2C, with night temperatures falling to an average -7.8C.

There has been much talk of severe weather arriving from this weekend onwards, with some chatrooms on the web ramping up rumours of a repeat of the severe winter of 1947. Whilst it is going to turn cold, with the possibility of snow increasing from early Sunday onwards, it is far too early to make predictions of a repeat of the famous ’47 winter which did not really get going until well into the second half of January. Indeed, records from Camden Square show that this week in 1947 would be remarkably mild – with a mean maximum of 10C while nights were a mild average of 5C.

So what has the next seven days got in store? With confidence in weather forecasting models at an unprecedentedly low level it is hard to pin down exact values on temperatures and weather much beyond Sunday. At the time of writing we can expect maximums to gradually creep downwards through the period – giving an average of 2C by the week’s end. Minimums are forecast to average -1C – so plenty of frost around. It currently looks like any precipitation on Saturday will start as rain before turning wintry. There is the chance this will turn to snow by Sunday morning to give a covering. Far more snow looks likely from Monday onwards. As said there is much uncertainty so keep a very close eye on output from the Met Office if you are planning on travelling.

The past week has seen much dull, cloudy and quiet weather, influenced by high pressure on the near continent. I often find this to be the worst possible winter weather as nothing much seems to happen. A bonus it did bring, however, was a break at last from all the rain.

Mean temp: 9.1C; Mean min 7.8C, Mean max 10.5C,

lowest min 5.9C(5th), highest max 11.7C (3rd), total rain 2.7mm

Pre-Christmas weather pattern

While things were wet in Wanstead the past couple of days the rainfall in our part of the UK was not really anything remarkable for December. Anyone who’s watched news reports the past couple of days would realise that it is the South West that has been taking a real hammering from incessant rainfall. One observer in Wembury, Devon, recorded a new high 24-hour rain total of 60.5 mm to 6pm, breaking a previous record set in August 1986.

The most notable thing in Wanstead on Saturday was the balmy ‘feel’ of the air which originated from the Caribbean at the beginning of the week. At 9pm the 13C ‘dew point’ made our part of the world the warmest anywhere at 50N or 50S. Almost summer-like and it seems the world has turned upside down. Weather stats for the Falkland Islands show that it is more like winter there than high summer.

I have been checking past years’ pre-Christmas rainfall, for the purpose of this study the 7-day period from 16th to 22nd inclusive.
This year is third wettest, beaten only by 1995 and 1989. So what does this mean for weather in the new year? Not much, probably, for anyone not a fan of weather forecasting by pattern matching. However, it is interesting to note the weather that followed these two wet Christmas periods… Both were very different.

Things turned very cold at the end of January / beginning of February 1996 – with an ‘ice day’ being recorded on January 26. Snowfall during the cold spell wasn’t really anything to write home about.

Anyone who follows the weather will remember that in January 1990 occured the devastating Burns’ Day storm that was responsible for the death of 97 people across the UK. The month as a whole, and February, was virtually frost free, stormy and very mild – positively balmy at times.

These two polar opposites just go to show that you forecast by pattern matching at your peril – though 1996 gives any coldies reading this hope for the new year.

Luke Howard

Today (Wednesday 28th) is the 240th anniversary of the birth of Luke Howard – the “father of meteorology” and the man who named the clouds.

He was born in Stamford Hill, north London but a business opportunity enable him to set a up a laboratory business in Plaistow then Stratford where he spent a large part of his life, later moving to Tottenham. A manufacturing chemist by trade his real passion was meteorology and he devised a nomenclature system for clouds, which he proposed in an 1802 presentation to the Askesian Society. He published “The Climate of London” in 1818 and again in 1830 – which was a diary of weather records. One of the entries August 14th, 1827, mentions a thunderstorm on Wanstead Flats.

“On Saturday evening 11th the inhabitants of Wanstead Flats in Essex and its vicinity were thrown into great consternation by one of the most violent thunder storms that has occurred within the memory of the oldest inhabitants. It commenced about six o clock and raged with the greatest violence until near seven. One man named Scales, a blacksmith, was struck by the lightning and knocked down after some time, however, he recovered the shock and sustained no injury other than that produced by extreme fright. Two large trees were literally shivered to atoms.”

Another thing of note from Howard’s weather diary is the frequency of sightings in London of the Aurora Borealis. He mentions that the Northern Lights were visible eight times over a period of nine years, four of these being between mid October 1819 and mid January 1820. On the morning of January 15th, 1820, Howard  records a low temperature of minus 18C!

I’ve been recording the weather in this area since 1988 and have only managed a low of minus 9.1C!

Meteorology-based musings about east London and beyond

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: