During a miserably cold and wet stroll around the golf course in Wanstead Park I happened upon the remains of Wanstead House – basically a deep excavation where the basement and kitchens once were.
As a freezing cold mixture of rain, sleet and snow fell, gradually thawing the remnants of last night’s snow, I wondered what the weather was like when this magnificent building last stood. Luke Howard’s entry in The Climate of London revealed that the weather on this day 200 years ago was remarkably similar.
Wanstead House around 1819 just before its destruction
February 1st 2019
As I stood and tried to imagine what the house must have looked like it occurred to me that 200 years is a mere blip in time in the history of the Earth. People come and go, buildings rise and fall but the weather goes on and on.
* There’s a fascinating extract on Wanstead from James Dugdale’s The New
British Traveller (1819) that you can find here.
** This video clip shows the site where Wanstead House once stood.
Weather models are continuing to struggle in the aftermath of the stratospheric sudden warming on January 1st. The GFS and ECMWF have flip-flopped: on one run decent northern blocking extends southward only for the dreaded European high to appear on the next.
Using a combination of QBO and ENSO data featured in my winter forecast and statistics from previous SSWs (including 2013 and 2018) achieved the following results shown in this graphic.
Although some days in the next week or so will be cold it is not until the 14th that conditions start to bite, the start of a week-long cold spell that will probably be more notable for cold than snowfall.
The rapid recovery in temperature would suggest that the Azores / European high making a return. With the MJO moving back and forth between phase 7 and 8, and looking at the behaviour of previous cold spells, this would make sense.
As for February, unless there are further SSWs to disrupt the polar vortex, and depending on its recovery, it is unlikely we will see a repeat of the winter of 1984/85 that I hinted at last month. The graphic below, however, would suggest another cold spell in the third week of February.
Lewisham’s Beckenham Place Park will next year be home to a new wild swimming lake, thanks to a plan to make London the world’s first National Park City.
The scheme put me in mind of the Shoulder of Mutton lake in Wanstead Park which, decades ago, used to host swimming galas and other events. Long-time residents of Aldersbrook will remember the jetty and diving board that stood at the edge of the lake before falling into disrepair that led to their removal.
With millions set to be spent shoring up the dams of the park’s lake system it is surely feasible that the City of London Corporation can reopen Shoulder of Mutton to swimming while the work is undertaken.
While being cheaper than a lido it would provide an excellent resource and give local residents the chance to enjoy once more swimming in natural surroundings, just like in the Serpentine and Hampstead Ponds.
I normally headline these monthly reviews by referring to the most notable weather but this April, often a fairly non-descript mid-spring affair, offered pretty much every type of weather.
The mean temperature finished 11.7C, 1.9C above average and the warmest for four years.
Rainfall was 55mm, 129 per cent of average and the wettest for 6 years.
Sunshine was just 110 hours, the dullest for 40 years and the 16th dullest since 1881.
Hidden in the positive monthly anomaly was the warmest April day in a local record going back to 1959: 29.1C on the 19th – a figure that represents a positive anomaly of 15.5C and occurring at the start of the warmest April heatwave since 2011. It was remarkable that such an anomaly happened so close to a record negative anomaly the previous month.
Yet, just over a week later, temperatures lurched cold again with one of coldest last days of April on record. Though the 24hr record wasn’t broken the noon-6pm record going back 60 years was beaten.
The wettest day occurred on the 9th with 10mm falling.
The sensor unit, 750m NNE of the weather station wansteadweather.co.uk on the Aldersbrook estate, is much better exposed and will hopefully offer more accurate wind and sunshine readings. It will also provide a chance to further investigate the area’s microclimate.
The station has already shown that the golf course is warmer on a radiative cooling night than the Aldersbrook Estate.
Since the early hours of Sunday I’ve been tracking official sites around London to see how Wanstead fairs in terms of retaining cold temperatures and snow.
The results, comparing hourly obs over 62 hours, show that Wanstead was a degree cooler than St James’s Park, half a degree cooler than Heathrow and marginally cooler than Northholt. Only Kenley, with its whopping 170m of altitude, was cooler.
While half a degree doesn’t sound much it can make all the difference, as we saw at the weekend when some areas recorded inches of snow while others barely a centimetre.
Though the snow has pretty much vanished now it was evident yesterday that the area was far more wintry neighbouring Forest Gate, Leyton and Stratford which had pretty much lost all their cover.
* For anyone who has a fascination for the weather and whether their back garden in the Counties Estate is colder than their mate’s in the Warren Estate I notice that weather stations are now even cheaper and you don’t need to connect to the net via a dedicated PC. A unit from Ventus (the W830) allows you to connect to the amateur weather network Wunderground. The internet dealer Weatherspares has them on offer. (NB. I am not on commission but would be happy to offer anyone advice who wants to buy and set one up.)
Today’s snow came thanks to an area of low pressure that tracked further south than forecast.
‘Xanthos’ brought several hours of precipitation, 21.3mm in all to 3pm. Associated precipitation started as rain in Wanstead at 4am, turning to snow at 8am and quickly settling on all surfaces. By the observation time at 9am about 1cm had accumulated as the snow turned heavier.
Snow continued to fall through the day though, because soil temperatures are still relatively warm, the snow thawed from below and accumulations locally were restricted to around 5cms.
There is still a full, slushy cover on lawns at nightfall.
Not a breath of wind from 9am
The temp and dew point hardly moved from 9am
Rainfall registered between 4am and 8am before snow blocked the AWS gauge