Filberts and Midsummer Eve

It’s the 23rd of June, and today is Midsummer Eve, and tomorrow is Midsummer’s Day or St Johns day. I was just perusing my copy of the Weather Lore book compiled by Richard Inwards in 1898 as you do, to see if there were any sayings concerning midsummer, and I found quite a few, one of the best of them is this one:

If it rains on Midsummer Eve,

the filberts will be spoiled.

I already realised that any proverbs, saying or rule concerning the weather were a complete nonsense, but the Weather Lore book which lists hundreds of them just reinforced it. A filbert by the way is a type of hazelnut, and it looks like the crop will be reasonably good this year, apart from parts of Wales. Another classic is this one, which seems rather apposite for this year:

Before St John’s Day we pray for rain;

after that we get it anyhow.


2017 now third warmest year to date

Figure 1

In Central England, the latest provisional figures for June show that 2017 is the joint third warmest start to a year (1st of January to the 22nd of June) since 1772. It’s very tight at the top but 2007 is still clear at the top, but that will gradually change because the second half of 2007 was much cooler than the first half of that year.

Figure 2

I’ve been watching 2017 climb slowly up the league table since March, but I think that this maybe as high as it gets, at least for a while, in light of the very much cooler conditions forecast for the coming week in the latest run of the GFS model (fig 3).

Figure 3

Many places 10°C or more cooler

Figure 1

Many places across England and Wales were up to 10°C or more cooler on Thursday (22 June) than they were or Wednesday (21 June). Trawsgoed in Ceredigion, was top of the list and 12.5°C colder (fig 1). Rather surprisingly, places on the northeast coast of England were almost 5°C warmer on Thursday, once they had lost Wednesday’s sea breeze (fig 2).

Figure 2

Yesterday’s clouds…

Funny, it already seems a long time ago now…

Regional mountain forecasts from the Met Office

There have been some major improvements made to the regional mountain forecast issued by the Met Office which have just been announced. I’ve just had a quick look at them, and as a retired Munro bagger myself, I think that the website and it’s content are perfect for anyone planning to go hillwalking  and trying to assess just how good or bad weather conditions will be.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Thankfully, although the webteam use the same map component they use in the severe weather warnings (fig 1), it’s not zoomable, just clickable, and when you do click it you get quite a detailed forecast (fig 2). I imagine that in winter each regional area forecast will also include any warnings regarding avalanche risk. There, who said I couldn’t write anything nice about the Met Office!

Figure 2 – Courtesy of the Met Office

The unusual warm and anticyclonic spring of 1893

Figure 1

I noticed that the warmest spring* in the daily CET record back to 1772 in Central England was 1893. I don’t make a habit of looking for exceptional warm springs in the Victorian era, it was just that the spring of 1893 was even warmer than the spring of 2017 which has just ended (fig 1). The other thing that caught my eye was how exceptionally high the mean maximum was (anomaly +3.82°C), and how comparatively normal the mean minimum (anomaly +0.37°). This obviously points to a very anticyclonic regime back in the spring of 1893 to produce very warm days and comparatively cold nights, the graph below (fig 2) shows the contrasting anomalies during that spring perfectly.

Figure 2

So just how anticyclonic was it? A quick scan of the reanalysis charts for that spring reveals it was very anticyclonic.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of Wetterzentrale

Here are the headlines from the monthly weather reports compiled by the Met Office back then:

  • March 1893 Exceedingly fine and dry in all but the extreme north and northwest where showers were more frequent.
  • April 1893 Remarkably fine, warm and dry, especially over southern England where the severe drought continued with scarcely any intermission.
  • May 1893 Mostly fine and dry, especially in the south and east till mid-month, then unsettled with rain and thunderstorms in places.
  • June 1893 Generally fine and dry first half with local thunderstorms, the second half saw frequent showers and thunderstorms.

As you can see from the LWT analysis (fig 4), spring 1893 is easily the most anticyclonic in the series that started in 1871, with 58% of LWT being either anticyclonic or anticyclonic hybrid. It wasn’t cold, because the predominant flow was generally southeasterly or southerly rather that east or northeasterly. Spring 2017 is currently in 22nd position with a couple more days of records to go.

Figure 4 – Data courtesy of the CRU/UEA

It was also the second driest spring [MAM] since 1766 in England and Wales (fig 5).

Figure 5 – Data courtesy of the Met Office

*  I’m old-fashioned, and because of this I prefer to use seasons that start and end (approximately) at the times of the various equinoxes and solstices, so most of these stats are based on so-called ‘astronomical’ rather than ‘meteorological’ seasons.

Cooler for some, warmer for others

Figure 1

It maybe a lot cooler for some first thing this morning in comparison with yesterday morning, more notably in the west and southwest of the country, but for other places, particularly in the east it’s much warmer than it was this time yesterday. The chart above (fig 1) is the 24 hour temperature difference, the chart below (fig 2) is the 24 hour differences in humidity.

It’s a lot more difficult to see whats going on with these humidity changes, the North Sea, Denmark, and much of Scandinavia are a lot more humid than yesterday, but lower humidities are evident in the southwest of Ireland, the far southwest and central parts of England.

Figure 2

The use of ‘fresher’ is obviously subjective, and is often bandied about by weather presenters without too much thought, other than to overly dramatise changes. The one big thing that I know is missing this morning in our part of Devon, is the sunshine of the last week (fig 3), it’s rather cloudy, temperature wise it’s certainly cooler than yesterday, but still fairly warm with temperatures around 18°C.

Figure 3

Unusual medium level shower activity…

Figure 1

I’m probably going to shoot myself in the foot with this one, but it looks to me, and I could be wrong, like much of the precipitation that’s been showing up on this afternoon’s weather radar, especially the belt that stretches across central England is from medium level unstable castellanus cloud, and is producing nothing more than the odd shower. There are some brighter echoes within, and the observing network is pretty thin so it could be falling between the gaps, but I see very few reports of any significant rain or thunderstorms from it.

Figure 2

Here’s the latest visible image (fig 3) that shows the band very well.

Figure 3

The rainfall over western Scotland looks even more dramatic, and this is thundery in nature (fig 4), although the rainfall indicated in the weather radar image looks very intense, it also seems to have escaped the observing network so far.

Figure 4 – Courtesy of Blitzortung

Interestingly, the current Met Office warning that is in force for heavy thundery rain this afternoon, completely omits the west and north of Scotland (fig 5)!

Figure 5 – Courtesy of the Met Office


Apparently, it’s the hottest June day since 1976 in the UK

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Met Office and Twitter

Not a lot of people know this, but according to Twitter (fig 1) apparently this afternoons maximum of 34.5°C at Heathrow, make today the warmest June day since 1976 in the UK. All the weather presenters are very excited about all this, so I thought I would get in on the act, and take a wander down memory lane to see what the charts looked like back then. According to the TORRO website the three days with temperatures above 35°C in June 1976 were:

  • June 26  35.4  North Heath (W Sussex), East Dereham (Norfolk) 1976
  • June 27  35.5  Southampton-Mayflower Park 1976
  • June 28  35.6  Southampton-Mayflower Park 1976

I have SYNOP reports for main synoptic hours back to 1973, but unfortunately, in the older SYNOP format temperatures were reported in whole degrees, so it’s not possible to pinpoint the exact maximum at any SYNOP station on these days (figs 2, 3 & 4).

  • I can’t corroborate the reports at North Heath and East Dereham on the 26th, because neither are SYNOP stations, although both Heathrow and Southampton reported 35°C on that day.
  • The Southampton temperature of 35°C on the 27th fits with the TORRO maximum temperature of 35.5°C because the value would have been thrown to the odd.
  • The highest maximum on the 28th at Southampton was reported as 34 in the SYNOPs that I have so I don’t know what’s going on there.

Both the 26th and 27th were very similar days synoptically (figs 5 & 6), with a large anticyclone over Ireland (~1028 hPa) and a ridge eastward extending across the north of England and the North Sea, with a light or moderate E’NE flow over southern England. No real weather to speak of although there was a thunderstorm reported at Exeter on the 18 UTC chart on the Sunday (27th) with a pressure of 1027.6 hpa which is pretty good going (fig 6).

Figure 5

Figure 6

Here’s this afternoons chart for 14 UTC on June the 21st (fig 7), synoptically quite different from June 1976, with high pressure in the German bight (~1020 hPa), low pressure to the NW and trough and cold fronts coming into western Ireland, there is a light to moderate SE’ly flow over southern England this afternoon.

Figure 7

I wonder just how many more hectares of buildings, concrete and tarmac there are surrounding the Stevenson screen at Heathrow compared with 40 odd years ago. I personally think that climate stations and busy aerodromes aren’t a good fit, but historically that’s how the observing network the Met Office now manages evolved.

Figure 8

-80°C at Concordia Station

The summer solstice apparently occurred at 0424 UTC this morning, and of course ushers in the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, which is a shame because the current heatwave is due to end tomorrow, so we’d better make the most of today.

With all this talk of hot weather, I thought that I’d have a scout round and find the coldest place in the world at the moment, and that of course is in Antarctica, at the Concordia research station to be precise, which sits 3,233 metres up on top of the Antarctic plateau. The temperature there at the moment (06 UTC on the 21st of June) is -80.1°C (-112°F), which is considerably colder than the -68.5°C at Vostok. I never realised that the Concordia research station existed till I found it listed in the SYNOP reports, and it wasn’t till I read the Wiki article about the French-Italian run concern that opened in 2005 did I realise that in sat right in the middle of a disputed area, apparently Australia hold claim to all that ice, the ridiculousness of this situation nicely sums up the stupidity of man in a nutshell. Below is the thermograph trace from Concordia for the last three months (fig 1). Let’s hope that they’re main purpose there isn’t to drill through the ice cap and release some alien life form like in the film ‘The Thing‘.

Figure 1