I should have realised that the spring dry spell hadn’t completely come to an end by the large cracks that have returned to our Devon garden. The figures reveal that Exeter airport is the driest place in the British Isles so far in June 2017. As far as I can see I have a 100% reception of the 06 UTC 06-06 rainfall values, but I’m a little skeptical that the rain gauge hasn’t been blocked, but I’m sure the Met Office are on the case and will reveal all in the course of time.
There are some other places in the UK that have also been quite dry this month, especially across the east Midlands, with Bedford (17.8 mm) and Wittering (18.6 mm) notable amongst them (fig 1 & 2).
So the dry theme continues to reoccur across Devonshire in 2017, with just 271 mm of rain in the first six months at Exeter airport (fig 3), which for such a wet county is remarkably low. It’s got so bad that we went out bought a second water barrel for the pond and garden yesterday, because a single 210 litre butt just wasnt enough.
I posted a similar blog at the end of April about the drought conditions, on the last day of the month we had almost 2″ of rain in a day. The latest NWP forecasts paint the next week as wet and cyclonic at times, which will likely redress the balance in rainfall in this part of the world I’m sure.
It maybe cooler than it has been, but it’s certainly not fresher, in fact it feels very humid this afternoon, with extensive stratus affecting all windward coasts exposed to the westerly flow at the moment. It’s hard to believe that we are now in the cooler air and behind the weak cold fronts that have just cleared the country, but then again dewpoints are still 15 or 16°C in many places. Here’s the 14 UTC charts of relative humidity across southern areas (fig 1).
It’s certainly a bit fresher further north, and low Quirin has brought winds that are very close to gale force this afternoon across the north of Scotland. At height, the Cairngorms have seen storm force winds, with gusts to 79 mph and temperatures only around 2°C (fig 2).
I was just looking at the recent hot spell, how warm it got, and how long it lasted in the daily CET series using the latest provisional data from the Met Office. If you classify a heat wave as a spell of five consecutive days or more, with mean maximum temperatures above 24°C then 2017 just qualifies. 24°C might not look particularly high, but you have to remember that the CET is a composite temperature from three separate sites. It may have been the warmest since 1976 because spells of this length are still rather uncommon in the month of June (fig 1), but looking at all summers since 1878, it still pales when compared to the hot spells in the years 1947, 1955, 1983, 1995, 2003, 2006 and of course 1976.
It’s Midsummer’s day today, and we can bid a fond farewell to the 564 dm partial thicknesses that we’ve seen across southern areas for the past few weeks, hopefully it will return later in the summer, until then it looks changeable and breezy at times, with some welcome rain over the next week or so, according to the latest run of the GFS model.
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.
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.
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).
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).
Funny, it already seems a long time ago now…
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
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.
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.