Tag Archives: thunderstorm

June 2016: extremely wet, dullest on record

Storm clouds gathering was a common sight in June 2016, but enough about the tumultuous political situation…

lake
The levels of Heronry pond have benefited immensely from the rainfall which was 2.5 times the average in June

For anyone looking for summery weather there was little to cheer about. For sunshine the month was the dullest June in a record going back to 1797. Just 96 hrs were recorded – which is just over half what we can expect in an average June.

Most notable was the rainfall: just over 139mm fell which is 272 per cent of average, and the third wettest since 1797. Only 1903 and 1860 were wetter. The month also saw the record broken for highest daily rainfall in a 24-hour period. A multi-cell thunderstorm in the early hours of the 23rd saw 60.8mm fall, most of it in two hours, bringing flash floods to the surrounding area.

fax
The synoptic situation at midnight on June 23 when the heaviest rainfall this area has seen since at least 1960 fell

With the lack of sunshine and copious rainfall it is, perhaps, surprising that the mean temperature for the month finished just above average: 16.8C is 0.7C above the June average. The warmest day was the 10th with 25.3C recorded – only one other day saw the mercury exceed 25C – very unusual for this time of years.

Air frosts: 0, Ground frosts: 0

So what has July got in store weatherwise? The models on the 1st suggest more of the same weather that we have seen during the last third of June. Sunshine and showers with the occasional ridge possibly calming things down for a few hours.

blake
Roads in Wanstead were turned into rivers in the early hours of June 23rd

Beyond the grasp of the models my long range outlook method suggests a rather warm month at 50 per cent – so given the cool start perhaps we can look forward to something summery in the final half to one third? Rainfall and sun looks inconclusive so I would guess average. Because of the high rainfall last month I think my long range method falls down.

A slightly wetter than average month looks most likely at 50% probability. Sunshine probably about average.

So to sum up: mean 18.8C (0.3C above average), rainfall 50mm, sunshine 190 hours.

My June outlook for temperature was good. I predicted a mean of 16.9C (outcome: 16.8C). Rainfall was very poor: 38mm (outcome: 139mm). Sunshine very poor: 178 hours (outcome: 96 hours).

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

1st: Cloudy and cool all day.
2nd: Cloudy and cold all day, brief brightness at 11am.
3rd: Cloudy and cool all day, limited brightness late morning. Cloudy overnight with limited breaks – air was very humid with warm front and visibility severely limited.
4th: Cloudy all day though cloud was lighter and air felt warmer because of the warm front that came in yesterday from Europe. Brief milky sunshine at 7pm.
5th: Cloudy up until 9.30am when the cloud began to thin. Sunny spells from 11am before a clearance at 1pm interspersed with occasional cloud.
6th: A gloriously sunny day all the way through. A lovely evening too.

sunsetflats
Sunny sunsets were rare in June

7th: Sunny start but cloud rolled in at 1.30pm with thunder heard all around Wanstead. Some serious flash flooding in Croydon. Highest official total was over 40mm in Kenley. Just 1.7mm during the day but trough brought rain at 5am, about 3mm.
8th: Sunny start but felt very humid and oppressive. A thunderstorm skirted Wanstead at 1.40pm with thunder and much rain in Chigwell, not much in Wanstead. More thunder at 2.10pm. Rain came and went for rest of day until 7pm – very little upper air movement. Mostly cloudy overnight.
9th: Cloudy start but some sunny spells developing.
10th: Cloudy start but soon decreased with long sunny spells developing. Lower humidity so felt pleasant.

chigwellrain
Heavy rain in Chigwell

11th: Cloudy and humid start with very heavy rain at 3pm. This lasted for 45 minutes. More rain fell sporadically through the day, evening and overnight.
12th: Cloudy after moderate rain. Showers and longer bursts of rain returned before a brief clearance at 3pm. More showers piled in with a real corker to the north of Wanstead.
13th: Damp start soon led to light rain, turning persistant at 11am. Then outbreaks of rain throughout the day, evening and overnight.
14th: Light rain to start but this quickly gave way to heavy showers all day. Some brightness at 6pm then turning drier overnight. Gin clear dawn.
15th: Sunny start but with lots of convective cloud. Some drizzle but a heavy shower stayed to the east of Ilford.
16th: Bright start with sunny spells, more breeze than recent days
17th: Lots of cloud around though sunny spells arrived early afternoon. Then showers between 5 and 6pm.
18th: Cloudy with spots of drizzle. Feeling cold all day – a maximum of only 16.5C.
19th: Sunny start but cloud gradually increasing all afternoon. Rain by nightfall that fell intermittently for hours. Rain again at obs time.
20th: Rain to start that lasted, with variable intensity, through the morning. Sunny spells from mid afternoon.
21st: Sunny start with just a few cirrus and cumulus, this tending to increase through the morning to leave an overcast afternoon. Cloudy overnight – a few spots of drizzle on school run as frontal wave started to move across UK.
22nd: Cloudy start with warm sector drizzle. Showers developed at 11pm, much thunder and lightning and the rain turned really heavy through the early hours.

rainjune
Extremely heavy rainfall during the early hours of the 23rd

23rd: Cloudy and humid to 1pm. Showers at 3pm.
24th: Sunny with variable cloud. Feeling humid in the sunshine.
25th: Bright start with sunny intervals. Light shower at midday. Thunderstorms at 2pm, 4pm and 9.30pm.
26th: Sunny spells though significant cloud at times. Rain between 4 and 6pm.
27th: Mostly cloudy though with some brightness after noon. Warmest point was in the evening at 7pm.
28th: Bright though cloudy start. Some sunny intervals but rain late afternoon into the evening. Cool overnight.
29th: Cloudy and breezy, some rain in the air early afternoon and again in the early hours
30th: Cloudy with slight breeze. Some light rain in the early hours.

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June weather can be flaming horror show

The past week has produced the highest 24-hour rainfall total recorded in Wanstead since at least 1960. The multi-cell thunderstorm on Wednesday night saw 60.8mm fall, most of it in two hours, bringing flash floods to the surrounding area. The spectacular lightning and thunder that accompanied it was almost a side show such was the intensity of the rainfall.

rainradar
An image from the Home & Dry app revealed a succession of dark red echoes passing over our area. The heaviest rain seemed to run on a line from Battersea to Romford

I was unfortunate enough to be riding home right in the middle of the event: the entire length of the Mile End Road bore a resemblance to a shallow river, the heavy rainfall bouncing back off the Tarmac high enough to create what felt like a powerful drench shower.

The legacy of the downpours caused chaos in the morning and evening rush-hours. Many commuters were stranded at London terminals including Waterloo station because of flooded tracks, possibly robbing many of the chance of voting in the EU referendum. It will never be known if this would have had a bearing on the final result.

Many people think of June as a warm, summery month. The term Flaming June  is regarded in most peoples’ subconscious as a reference to past weather. That it is a actually the name of a painting is often missed. Looking back through our local history there has been many notable events of thunderstorms and prolonged rainfall. In 1903 a record-breaking 59-hour deluge left vast swaths of the borough inundated.

list
The offical UK weather station totals all recorded less than Wanstead

This weekend 200 years ago, during the Year Without a Summer, a powerful tornado, strong enough to carry away objects weighing 60lbs, tore through the Edgware Road area in west London. Luke Howard recorded the event in the Climate of London.

At two o’clock being a still sultry day a whirlwind passed over the nursery ground of Mr Henderson in the Edgware Road which lifted seven lights from the greenhouses and carried them to the height of the highest elm trees, each of the lights weighs 50 or 60lbs at least. At the same time two garden mats were carried to an immense height so that the eye could not distinguish them.

The following day “extremely heavy and prolonged rain from 9am (26th) to 9am on 27th gave 2.95 inches”. This total of over 52mm is notably high though not a record.

This weather was a continuation of what had been an awful May and June – cold with more than twice the average rainfall in June.

The weather then was not unlike what we have experienced this month. Indeed, a look at the weather throughout this year was similar as this graph shows.

compared

Though the mean temperature at times bears a close resemblance this year is no comparison to 1816: The mean then was running at 6.2C, over 3 degrees colder than today.
Mean pressure was also lower being 992.1mb; the 2016 mean 9am pressure is 1010.6mb.
Perhaps not surprisingly this year’s rainfall rainradaractually trumps 200 years ago; the running total for rainfall here is 390.1mm, higher than the 309.6mm recorded in 1816.

The dreary summer and frequent thunderstorms of 1816 inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. A summer vacation in Switzerland led her to spend much of the time indoors. She, along with Lord Byron and John William Polidori entertained each other with a contest to write the scariest story of all. The unseasonal conditions, along with this dare, led to the creation of Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus— as well as Polidori’s novella The Vampyre and Byron’s long-form poem, The Darkness.

It will be interesting to see if this June’s weather, along with momentous political changes here and in Europe, produce more fine fiction from the this and the next generation of writers.

wind
Wind speed during the event from 2300 to 1000
temp
Temperature during the event from 2300 to 1000
pressure
Pressure during the event from 2300 to 1000
raintoday
Rainfall from 2300 to 1000
tipper
Rainfall rate from 2300 to 1000

 

Thunderstorms bring a Holyrood awakening

It was just before 3am that I was awoken by faint rumblings outside. I knew there was a risk of thunder before I’d retired to bed a few hours earlier but I’d discounted the risk along with any thoughts of staying up to watch the referendum results unfold in Scotland.

This radar shot shows the storm just beginning to hit Wanstead. The rain was far heavier to our east. 17.2mm was reported at Laindon, Essex. An observer at Woodford Wells recorded 19.9mm her in about 25 minutes 0310-0335 bst
This radar shot shows the storm just beginning to hit Wanstead. The rain was far heavier to our east. 17.2mm was reported at Laindon, Essex. An observer at Woodford Wells recorded 19.9mm her in about 25 minutes 0310-0335 bst

Lightning then illuminated the room through the gaps in the curtains followed by more rumblings: it’ll pass, I thought. Crash – I grabbed my phone – was this an isolated event? The radar showed a line of slow moving storms moving up from the south. More lightning and loud thunder. My Twitter feed told me it wasn’t going too well for those wanting independence. At this point intensely bright lightning was rapidly followed by one of the loudest claps of thunder I’ve heard around 3.10am. Car alarms were set off – may as well get up I thought… The Inverclyde result was announced – ‘No’, by the narrowest of margins 50.1% to 49.9%. That’s it then, I thought. The lightning and thunder gradually began to fade away with hopes of an independent Scotland, on this night anyway. I glanced at my stats which seemed far less impressive than what was recorded elsewhere: 7.7mm, no big fall in temperature or pressure like previous storms during the summer.

Just a few hours later I walked my younger daughter into school, my bleary eyes struggling to focus – the humid and steamy atmosphere felt more like July than September. Indeed Thursday had been the warmest September 18th since 1997 which, strangely, was the same year that another momentous British event took place: the handover of Hong Kong to China. I remarked to a couple of parents that the only thing that had changed overnight was that Andy Murray will forever be the “Scottish” tennis player after his comment on Twitter.

The forecast advised that there was a continued threat of thunderstorms. It was humid but it didn’t ‘feel’ stormy – though around 2.30pm I could hear the beginning of faint rumblings in the distance.

Clouds above could be seen developing rapidly at 2.30pm
Clouds above could be seen developing rapidly at 2.30pm

I left for work on my scooter at 3pm, carefully watching the sky for any developments all of which seemed to be in the distance. After stopping for petrol in Leytonstone High Road huge drops of rain began splattering the pavement. They were few and far between, however, and the sun defiantly continued to shine. After riding past Stratford I suddenly became aware that the buildings in the distance, past Bow flyover, were gradually beginning to disappear. I pulled in to a turning where Gala Bingo is situated. An electronic noticeboard enquired: “Do you feel lucky?” Not today I thought and retrieved my overtrousers that live under the seat, hastily pulling them on as I watched the impending storm begin to close in.

I continued on and was soon enveloped in the full force of another thunderstorm. Marble-sized hail clattered off my crash helmet while dangerous gusts, caused by wind funneling through the new high rise flats by the Olympic Park, did their best to push me off. Just as I crossed the canal a sheet of rain engulfed me and the drivers to my right. The road in front suddenly turned into a shallow river. I usually ride over the flyover – not today with the torrent of water cascading off the sides.

The 3.15pm storm that flooded large parts of East London. The white area shows where the heaviest rain was
The 3.15pm storm that flooded large parts of East London. The white area shows where the heaviest rain was

By the time I reached Mile End the rain had almost stopped. The City looked fairly dry and on reaching London Bridge the roads were completely dry. The Friday crowds were out in force in Borough Market, enjoying the sunshine and seemingly oblivious to the chaos unfolding just a few miles away in East London. Within 10 minutes of walking into my office Alex Salmond announced his resignation. Another storm: another momentous event! It was another of those coincidental storms that, in my mind, seem to mark momentous events such as the Royal birth last July

I checked the stats of the storm back in Wanstead: 24.5mm  fell  with a peak rate of 76.5mm/hr at 15.47. The storm ended a run of 16 dry days bringing the total for the month up to 33mm – the 24hr total was 30.5mm. The explosive convection of this storm can be seen here. The associated hail and rain brought much flooding to Hackney, Hackney Wick and Leytonstone. This storm seemed to be the result of a convergence line over London between light southerlies to the south and easterlies to the north – the heavy rain was very localised.

Flooding images can be seen on the following links at Dalston, Wanstead Flats, Leytonstone Station, Wick Road. A short clip of flooding at Wick Road can be seen here.

The flooding wasn’t restricted to East London. In Southend water started pouring through the roof of the Dixons theatre though it failed to stop the performance. Shops in London Road were inundated.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/11486080.Fire_crews_receive_100_calls_as_severe_flooding_hits_Southend/

See also:

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local_news/11353521.FLOODING_CHAOS___Southend_Hospital_A_E_evacuated_as_south_Essex_is_battered_by_downpour/?ref=var_0

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/11486049.Updated__Flash_flooding_hits_homes_and_businesses/?ref=var_0

 

 

Overnight storms of July 18th 2014

I’ve decided to cobble together a few lines on last night’s notable thunderstorms which reminded me so much of the stormy nights on the 1980s.

The radar at 3am, produced by the excellent Hone and Dry, revealed that the storm's rainfall was quite widespread. The white areas show the most intense rainfall
The radar at 3am, produced by the excellent Home and Dry, revealed that the storm’s rainfall was quite widespread. The white areas show the most intense rainfall

After writing off the risk of storms for our area last night I was awoken at 3am by loud, rumbling thunder – the kind that seems to resonate all around you. A quick look on the radar revealed quite a widespread thunderstorm, quite different from the smaller, more intense one that woke up most of Wanstead on July 23rd last year.

On viewing the live lightning map at 3.10am it became clear that this was no flash in the pan. Further rumbles and strikes had me leaping out of bed to monitor the station. EssexWeather reported 1809 lightning strikes in two hours for our region.

And on viewing the pressure graph the first storm saw a 6mb fall in pressure in a matter of minutes.

A second storm around 5.30am was less severe though still notable. The 9.4mm that the weather station recorded fell at a rate of 45mm/hr at 3am and 40mm/hr at 5.15am. Though the AWS is often out in heavy rainfall situations on this occasion it was more or less spot on – my 10am reading of my traditional 5″ raingauge revealed the official total to be 9.3mm. The rain took the July  total to 108% of the 1981-2010 mean.

And a squall that blew through just before 4am is well portrayed on this wind graph.

So, all in all, a really lively sticky night where the temperature didn’t fall below 18.2C. I didn’t manage to get any of  my own pictures but this one by @justinstokes on Twitter caught my eye.

According to the CAPE / lifted index further storms seem likely tonight. Indeed the situation across the Channel could be dire. It is probable a few will trundle their way across the sea to give us another sleepless night…
lightning canary wharf

This wind graph shows a gust of 22.8mph at 0336z in my sheltered garden
This wind graph shows a gust of 22.8mph at 0336z in my sheltered garden
Radar at 0519 shows another white blob (very heavy rain) about to cross Wanstead
Radar at 0519 shows another white blob (very heavy rain) about to cross Wanstead

 

This pressure trace shows the fall in pressure of the two thunderstorms that crossed our region
This pressure trace shows the fall in pressure of the two thunderstorms that crossed our region
Live lightning map from http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime at 3.10am
Live lightning map from http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime at 3.10am

Tragic London storm marked slide into WW1

Over the years significant weather events have, at least in my subconscience, at times signalled that something ‘big’ is about to happen – just one example being the Great Storm in October 1987 that was followed days later by the Black Monday stock market crash.

So an event that happened 100 years ago this month, to some, probably also brought a feeling of impending doom as the political situation in Europe became ever more fraught.

Account of the thunderstorm reported in The Times
Account of the thunderstorm reported in The Times

A series of severe thunderstorms that broke out just after midday over south-west London on June 14, 1914, left people dead and a trail of destruction across areas south of the Thames. Fierce lightning, torrential rain, severe flooding and hail ‘the size of walnuts’ accompanied the storms. Seven people were killed by lightning on Wandsworth Common and four others were injured. As with many thunderstorms the heaviest rain, 94mm in 3 hours at Richmond Park, was focused over a small area. South Kensington, just over 5 miles away, recorded just 6mm! I don’t have the figures for Wanstead but judging by the map published in the 1914 edition of British Rainfall it probable recorded even less than South Kensington.

Some reports by observers.

Dulwich: Violent hailstorms. Many hailstones were like acid tablets about one inch long, half an inch broad and over a quarter of an inch thick. A minute or two after these had fallen, a mist rose to a height of about 4ft above the ground.

Lewisham: A storm began at 12.24pm and came right overhead from the east with terrific flashes of lightning and loud thunder. At 12.31pm, rain fell with extraordinary fury; within 9 minutes 0.5 inches had fallen. The second storm came up just after 1pm, the lightning being even more severe. At 1.30pm, St Mark’s Church, and the Holy Cross were  struck. A tree in Hither Green cemetery over 30ft high was splintered and two houses were struck at Catford. Another thunderstorm came up at 2.25pm with torrents of rain and hail as large as haricot beans fell for 5 minutes.

Rainfall in the London area - June 14, 1914 - shown in the publication British Rainfall
Rainfall in the London area – June 14, 1914 – shown in the publication British Rainfall

Richmond Park: Very severe storm passed over the house; an oak fence was struck by lightning in two places. Rainfall measurements were as follows: 1.80 inches in 45 minutes, 2.70 inches in 90 minutes, 3.2 inches in 2 hours, 3.60 inches in 2.5 hours, 3.70 inches in 2.75 hours.

Wimbledon Downs: There was a curious scene close to Kingston station, where the water was about 4ft feet deep at five o’clock and motor cars and omnibuses had to make a wide detour. The storm was especially severe in Wimbledon district, where, owing to the bursting of an overtaxed sewer, the District Railway line was submerged. At Tooting Junction station was a foot deep on the platform.

Judging by the 1881-1910 average 1914 was a warm year: the mean temperature of 10.7C  was a full degree warmer than average. It was also 15 per cent wetter than average and the sun hours were nearly 108% of average. Of course by today’s standards (the 1981-2010 average) 1914 looks relatively cool as the average annual temperature has risen 1C in the past hundred years.

The weather on this day must have been synonimous with the deteriorating political situation in Europe: two weeks later Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo by a young Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip , the casus belli of the First World War.

What is fascinating is that a similar thunderstorm that left seven dead in Valentines Park, Ilford, 75 years ago this August, also happened about two weeks before Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced on September 3, 1939, that Britain was at war with Germany.

Blood-Redtempest1

Continue reading Tragic London storm marked slide into WW1

The storm of July 23, 2013

It was the storm that preceded the hottest day of the year when the temperature briefly touched 34C in Wanstead – that’s higher than the official recognised figure of 33.5C at Heathrow and Northolt.

This image by MeteoX shows the storm right over Wanstead
This image by MeteoX shows the storm right over Wanstead

Earlier people all around town and across the country wilted in the heatwave waiting for news on the royal sprog, many of them ignorant that things were about to go bang. But no matter – it’s days like this they say is good to bury bad news – so the weather, it seems, decided to get in on the act too. The first spots of rain fell on an exhausted crack Sky News commentary team outside Buckingham Palace just before midnight. About the same time reports started coming in of thunder in Canning Town and Poplar – but all went quiet after three flashes. Then 11.58pm reports of rain in Luke Howard’s old haunt – Plaistow. My own ride back from town saw reasonably heavy, if somewhat shortlived, rain in Southwark. Yet by the time I reached Aldgate the ground was dry. Things began to liven up again at 1.30am – distant rumbles of thunder getting closer – further reports of multiple thunder, lightning and heavy rain with hail mixed in at 1.45am. Then, bang, the storm hit Wanstead. I failed to get any footage of the event because of the ambient light washing out every shot. Multiple crashes of loud thunder followed by, at one point, dazzling lightning flashes. You know how close a storm is by counting the seconds between lightning and peal of thunder. At 1.51am I barely counted to one between a dazzling flash and one of the loudest cracks of thunder I’ve heard. Only 6.5mm of rain was recorded, though this fell at a rate of 60mm/hr – the highest rate since I put the meteo live online last November. It doubled the previous highest rate! There followed frequent, distant rumblings of thunder to the east along with copious flashes and occasional bursts of rain. Epping recorded 19mm in two storms at 5am and 6.30am. The thunder and oppressive humidity made sleep difficult. And judging by the number of bleary eyes on the school run this morning I wasn’t alone. The were other storms around London and the UK – a notable one in Brixton precipitated this account on Brixton Buzz. And Steve Brice managed to capture the lightning in Gillingham, Kent. Pershore in Worcestershire recorded over 56mm of rain in 3 hours while lightning damaged rail networks. It was one of the most dazzling displays I can remember – certainly the best since probably 2000 if not before. People often ask me what first got me interested in the weather. Until last night I’d almost forgotten that thunderstorms were one of the main attractions. A night to remember – just like the overnight storms in the Eighties I remember as a lad. Scott Whitehead @wanstead_meteo http://www.wansteadweather.co.uk with thanks to @loveloughton for storm updates The following charts show the cell well. The 2mb pressure drop, the 60mm/hr rainfall rate, the 2C dive in temperature, and the sudden gust of wind Image This pressure drop is also reflected in the temperature fall at the same time: 2C in a matter of minutes. Image temp dropgust