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
July 2017 was the wettest since 1960. Some 92.3mm of rain were recorded which is 212 per cent of the 1981-2010 average.
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.
Summary for July 2017
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
Total for month 92.3
Wettest day 30.8 day 11
High rain rate 56.4 day 29
Rain days 10
Dry days 21
Highest Gust 17.4 day 27
Average Speed 2.9
Wind Run 2163.5 miles
Gale days 0
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The mean temperature for May 2017 of 14.7C was 1.6C above average; the warmest for six years and the 11th warmest in a local series going back to 1797.
Despite the first ten days of the month continuing the dry spell that has plagued London for months the total recorded finished above average: 62.5mm rainfall (122% of the 1981-2010), the wettest May for three years.
Though the month finished warm with some cracking sunny days the first two-thirds of the month were relatively dull: 157.1hrs of sunshine were recorded which is 86% of average, the dullest for 13 years.
1st: Cloudy all day with just a few bright intervals.
2nd: Sunny and clear morning, cloud bubbled up at noon. Cloud thickened with very light drizzle at 8pm.
3rd: Cloudy, dull with occasional very light drizzle.
4th: Cloudy and feeling chilly all day. Odd drizzle.
5th: Sunny start though cloud thickened quickly to leave an overcast though bright, breezy afternoon.
6th: Cloudy all day with a couple of bright spells.
7th: Cloudy and cool start, cloud decreasing after noon, eventually clearing to leave long sunny spells at 5pm.
8th: Cloudy and cool start – the cloud sticking all day and felt chilly.
9th: Cloudy and cool start, cloud decreased late afternoon but did not completely clear until 5am, saving area from frost. -2.8C in Benson!
10th: Sunny and mostly clear into the afternoon with patchy cirrus.
11th: Sunny and humid to start with much high-level cirrus. Breezy too. Showers overnight.
12th: Cloudy start, one or two light showers before a brief heavy one at 2pm. Sunny spells developed late afternoon.
13th: Cloudy start before cloud decreased to long sunny spells in afternoon. Cloudier overnight with showers between 7am and 8am.
14th: Sunny spells and breezy. Cloudier overnight with shower at 7am.
15th: Light rain and showers through the morning, clearing in the afternoon to sunny intervals.
16th: Bright start with cloud decreasing. Some very warm sunny spells – felt like summer for first time. Light rain in the evening though it didn’t start falling consistently until 2am with heaviest fall arriving at 4am.
17th: Bright start with plenty of sunny spells. Showery rain arrived at noon, turning more persistent at 4pm, clearing around 10pm.
18th: Bright start with lots of sunshine. Cloud began thickening at 1pm with bursts of light rain. Persistent rain arrived at 3.30pm and was still moderate to heavy at 10pm. Started petering out at midnight but then two further showers at 3am and 5am.
19th: Showery with longer spells of rain. This tended to clear to sunny spells. Thunder in the evening with a brief heavy shower at 6.23pm.
20th: Sunny, warm and breezy morning to 1pm.
21st: Sunny start with cumulus bubbling up. Sunny spells thereafter, growing longer as day wore on. Still 20C at 6pm during first Music in Wanstead Park. Overcast early but cloud started to break around 8am.
22nd: Sunny with decreasing cloud, clear by 1pm with just patchy cirrus.
23rd: Cloudy start with sunny spells mid morning, turning mostly cloudy again though.
24th: Bright start with variable cloud and sunny spells.
25th: Sunny with variable cloud at obs time, the cloud quickly clearing though a convection line could be seen in the west from Essex.
26th: Sunny and clear though breezy. Long sunny spells through the day. Feeling hot. Thunder and brief downpour between 8.30am and 9am.
27th: Sunny though only after front had cleared. Then alternating cloudy to sunny. More cloud late afternoon and not feeling as nice as forecast.
28th: Sunny start with variable cloud though the day. Rain in the evening before storm arrived at 1am, the rain turning heavier at 1.45am and lasting till just gone 3am.
29th: Cloudy start though soon turning brighter. Feeling humid with occasional very light rain.
30th: Cloudy but bright with the odd break. Feeling fresher
31st: Bright start with plenty of holes in the alto cumulus. Cloudier in the afternoon
Lack of rainfall and a broken pump have been cited by City of London Corporation as the main reason for the shocking levels of the ponds through the park.
The plight of the water courses has been well documented of late; a press release from the Corporation explains the catalogue of issues hampering efforts to address the problem. Closer scrutiny of these reasons, however, suggest that too much is being blamed on the weather.
A study of local rainfall back to 1981 suggests that though the ground water replenishing season (October 1st – April 24th) has been dry it is by no means out of the ordinary.
As you can see from the graph the rainfall here has gone up and down like a yo-yo and 2016-17 is only the fourth driest period: 1991-92, 1995-96, 1996-97 and 2011-12 were drier.
The Corporation’s press release states: “2015-16 was a helpfully wet period for us…”
Wrong. 2015-16 was average. And if you consider annual rainfall 2015 saw 92 per cent of average rainfall recorded; 2016 was 93 per cent – placing 58th and 66th in driest years since 1797. Nothing out of the ordinary.
“2016-17 has, however, been an especially dry period with below average rainfall since Spring 2016.”
Wrong. See above detail. There have been three drier periods since 1981. And since March 2016, only half of the months have been notably dry, a period that included the third wettest June since 1797.
“January to March 2017 has seen roughly 50% less rainfall than average”
Wrong. January to March rainfall was 94% of the 1981-2010 average
April has been dry, and could be among the top 5 driest back to 1797, but it seems the Corporation are trying to blame nature instead of years of neglect on their part.
The situation is in stark contrast to CoL’s other open space, Hampstead Heath, which has recently seen the completion of a £23m project to make safe the ponds there. CoL has deep pockets yet they have dithered for years over spending £25,000 to renovate the Coronation Bridge – and offer the people of Ilford a route into the park.
Figures released by CoL show it has only invested £1.23m in Wanstead Park over the last five years, compared with £50m spent in Hampstead Heath.
We are constantly told that problems in the park are ‘in hand’ yet progress on anything is painfully slow – and action to repair the pump has sadly come too late for much of the wildlife on Heronry Pond.
People from far and wide use Wanstead Park – they really deserve better!
1st: Sunny start, the sky gradually filling in with light rain at 3pm and into the evening. A windy night.
2nd: Sunny and blustery start, clouding over with some light rain in afternoon / evening. Drier overnight before area of light rain moved in at 0730z.
3rd: Cloudy start with light rain late morning. Feeling cold.
4th: Cold and cloudy with brief showers in the afternoon and overnight.
5th: Light rain at 9am and during the morning, briefly clearing at 10.30am before heavy showers moved in through the afternoon. Some warm sunny intervals in between. Showers into the evening until 10pm.
6th: Sunny start with just a few clouds around.
7th: Bright start with decreasing cloud to leave sunny late morning. Variable cloud through the afternoon. Rain at 00.50 until 0144.
8th: Light rain between 9 and 11am then showery though mostly light. Mild.
9th Sunny start though tending to cloud in late afternoon. Feeling mild.
10th: Cloudy with a burst of light rain at 10.30am.
11th: Bright, hazy start and feeling mild. Very quiet weather – pleasant in the garden.
12th: Cloudy with drizzle early afternoon
13th: Sunny start with a few cirrus, cloud gradually increasing but staying mostly sunny.
14th: Cloudy, mild and boring start – boring and cloudy all day.
15th: Misty start, quickly clearing to leave a glorious sunny day and pleasant.
16th: Sunny and clear up to 12 noon, then haze and cumulus pushing in and gradually thickening up. Light drizzle between midnight and early hours as cold front pushed through.
17th: Sunny but hazy start, this haze thickening through the morning. Feeling noticeably colder with patchy drizzle – felt quite inclement in the evening.
18th: Bright and breezy start. Then mostly cloudy with odd patch of drizzle.
19th: Cloudy, breezy with odd drizzle patch. Sunny intervals late morning and into the afternoon before clouding over in evening. Moderate rain at 1am.
20th: Cloudy and breezy start. Heavy showers spreading in with brief stair rods at 3pm, then clear and much cooler overnight.
21st: Sunny with well scattered cumulus.
22nd: Cloudy, dull and feeling cold in the wind. Showery rain, this turning heavier into the evening and to 1am.
23rd: Cloudy and breezy, some sun mid afternoon which felt warm.
24th: Cloudy, chilly and windy morning.
25th: Sunny and clear but with bracing easterly wind – pleasant outside the wind in the sun.
26th: Sunny and much more pleasant than yesterday with lighter wind.
27th: Cloudy and cold to start, the cloud breaking to long sunny periods that led to a pleasant afternoon. Cloudier overnight with cloudy, chilly dawn.
28th: Sunny, gin clear start. Cloud began building after noon with sun becoming ever more scarce. Light rain late evening and overnight.
29th: Cloudy and mild
30th: Sunny, though hazy start with lots of alto cumulus
31st: Cloudy and dull with brief drizzle at 9.30am. Cloud slightly less heavy at noon.
The unearthing of an ancient Egyptian statue, initially thought to be of the pharaoh Ramses II, in a Cairo suburb earlier this month reminded me of the mysterious stone that was discovered in Wanstead Park in 2014.
The granite object, discovered partly buried in undergrowth on the banks of Heronry Pond, was initially thought to be part of the long-lost pyramidion (or capstone) of Tia, overseer of the treasury in the time of Ramses II, from his tomb at Saqqara in the Aswan region.
Though tests made last year at Reading University suggested otherwise the fate of the stone that once had pride of place in the American garden of Wanstead House remains a mystery.
The capstone was placed in the park as part of a landscaping project in 1784. Humphry Repton, the landscape gardener who devised plans in 1813-18, described Wanstead Park as “one of the most magnificent places in this country”.
Unfortunately, owner William Wellesley Pole’s debts caught up with him and the estate’s riches were sold off at auction, including the intriguing stone which was labelled Lot 279.
The auction on June 10th coincided with the hottest day of 1822 with the temperature peaking at 92°F. Evening thunderstorms brought some relief but the capstone remained unsold.
A catalogue of the 30-day event showed that Lot 279 was the last item to be sold, being bought by the auctioneer himself who immediately gave it to his son-in-law to display in his garden at Tamworth Castle. There is no evidence, however, that the stone ever reached Tamworth.
Though rainfall during the summer of 1822 was average much of it fell in cloudbursts. Luke Howard’s records in nearby Stratford for June and July reveal many days with maxima well into the 80s and destructive thunderstorms with deadly lightning and hail, some of which measured three inches in diameter.
It is possible that faced with transporting a very heavy lump of granite some 135 miles on a horse drawn cart on unmade, waterlogged roads those charged with the task instead quietly slid the stone into one of Wanstead Park’s lakes.
Ralph Potter, a member of Friends of Wanstead Parklands, has been following the story of the stone since it was discovered. He explained the reason behind why he thinks the stone’s origin is inconclusive: “Probably the world’s most eminent authority on stone from the Aswan quarries has declared, based on photos alone, that the stone does not originate from Aswan. On the other hand we have an eminent petrologist who within minutes of seeing the stone declared it almost certainly came from the quarry complex at Aswan.”
*A full history of the mystery of Lot 279, written by Chris Elliott, can be found here
**A chronicle of Wanstead Park, written by Alan Cornish, can be found here.
***The statue pulled from the mud in a Cairo suburb is thought to be most likely the first king of the 26th Dynasty of Egypt — Psamtek I .
Luke Howard’s entries in the Climate of London at the end of July tell of a very stormy period of weather