The May day foehn of 1990 at Kinloss

I remember this particular May Day 1990 very well, because at the time I was an observer at Kinloss and was due on the night shift, taking over from John Sutherland who had been on the day shift. He told me the story of how a southerly foehn had kicked in during the early afternoon and increased the temperature by at least 10°C. All morning rotors from the strong southerly wind at 2000 feet, coupled with a sea breeze effect, had been keeping the surface wind in the north or northeast, blowing of a cold Moray Firth (fig 1), but eventually the southerly burst through and the temperatures soared from around 15°C at 12 UTC to around 27.2°C within the hour. I can’t be too precise about the exact times or magnitude in the rise of the air temperature, suffice it to say that John was not particularly happy about getting a phone call from Bracknell asking him to correct his 13 UTC observation! I think the maximum that afternoon which had been a smidgen higher at nearby Lossiemouth at 27.4°C (fig 3), will still rank as one of the warmest May Days on record in Scotland, if not the UK.

One day I’ll have to pay the archives a visit in Exeter, dig out the old obs book if they have it, and jog my memory! I only have six hourly SYNOP reports for that particular day, but here are the 12 and the 18 UTC plotted charts for posterity and for John, who was quite a character.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

Author: xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds

One thought on “The May day foehn of 1990 at Kinloss”

  1. In March 1976 I was living in Heidelberg, and with a few days off my Ozzie mate and I went skiing.
    We drove down to just N. of the Swiss massif, and stopped for a beer or four.
    Sitting in the hot sunshine was a decidedly odd experience. A strong foehn was blowing, The temp. was possibly 25C+, and the RH felt like single figures. There was no wind, except when a tremendous gust blew up every ten minutes or so, scattering the dust and litter.
    Looking to the S., the alto-cumulus was peeling off the mountains and evaporating in front of you.
    We continued S. and ended up in Zermatt-continuous heavy snow and brilliant skiing-if you could see where you were going!

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