Extreme Easters since 1772 in Central England

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of NCEP/NOAA 20th Century Reanalysis

The Met Office beat me to a story about extreme Easters of the past, but undaunted, and without the masses of climate data they have at their disposal, I pressed on with a bit of research of my own.

Because Easter is not at a fixed time each year it’s difficult to compare one with another. Easter Sunday can fall as early as the 22nd of March or as late as the 25th of April. I’ve used the daily CET series from 1772 (now there’s a surprise), and calculated a five-day mean, from Maundy Thursday to Bank Holiday Monday to do my comparison with. Because of the time range that easter can fall, I have base it on mean temperature anomalies rather than the mean temperature. So from what I’ve found the coldest Easter period since 1772 occurred in 1892 (fig 3). The Easter Sunday that year fell on the 17th of April so it was by no means early.

Figure 2 – Data courtesy of the Met Office

The mean temperature for the five days between Maundy Thursday and the Bank Holiday Monday in 1892 was 2.1°C, which was -6.4°C below the long-term average for that period (fig 3). The weather chart for the Sunday (fig 1) shows just what a bleak and cold Easter that must have been in eastern parts.

Figure 3 – Data courtesy of the Met Office

I couldn’t resist including the Monthly Weather Report for April 1892 after using it to check out my story because I was taken with some of the phrases that were used by whoever wrote the report. I have highlighted some of them from the PDF that I accessed courtesy of the Met Office (fig 4). The remark about Vapour Tension exceeding 0.25 on the south coast of Ireland and England was a real charmer, I bet sixpence was a lot of money in 1892, and what happened to the Weekly Weather Report?

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the Met Office and ©Crown Copyright

Conversely, the warmest Easter using the same method, fell in 1926 in Central England at any rate.  Easter Sunday that year fell on April 4th, and the five-day mean was +6.5°C above today’s long-term average, and if you look at the synoptic situation (fig 5) you can understand why. I did look for any weather related news for Easter 1926, and mistakenly thought that this was the year of the Easter Rebellion in Ireland, but I was 10 years too late, that occurred in 1916.

Figure 5 – Good Friday 1926, data courtesy of NCEP/NOAA 20th Century Reanalysis

Exeter airport – November 2016


It’s amazing what you can do with a month’s worth of  hourly SYNOPs from OGIMET. Here for example is a full climatological report for last month (November 2016) for Exeter airport. I think I’ve used more or less every scrap of climate data that is locked up in an hourly report, although I must admit that because Exeter returns hourly sunshine and radiation data there is no way to visualise that it in a monthly tabulated report like this, unless you plot the hourly values in a graph.


Exeter airport – November 2016

I remember when I was a lad having to fill a Metform (it did have a number but I forgot it) in very similar but not as detailed as this, that’s when I was an assistant scientific officer [ASO] with the Met Office at a variety of outstations around the UK. The beauty of a desktop application like this though, is that I can download all the ~7200 hourly observations required for a month, and produce a climate report like this, in just a few seconds from anywhere in the UK. It would probably work for stations from the rest of the world, but because different countries use and abuse the SYNOP format in different ways, it will need a bit of extra tweaking for general overseas use.

What a month November 2016 was at Exeter by the way, storm Angus and a three-day wet spell, and then eight dry days to finish!

The one thing of course the report screen lacks is access to long-term averages, so that anomalies for temperature, rainfall and sunshine can be included. Some of this long-term monthly average data is available for some key stations around the UK, so it may be possible to add this functionality to the application in time. The other thing it does that any self-respecting climatological application can do is produce a variety of charts :

  • Hygrograph
  • Thermograph
  • Barograph
  • Hyetograph
  • Anemograph
  • Sunshine graph (what is the latin like name for this one?)

This application is still a beta, that’s a fancy way of saying that it’s not quite finished, but that’s the problem with the majority of the many weather applications that I write. The report screen is more or less complete and the way I want it and data it displays is correct, but the graphs do need more polishing as you can see:


Barograph – bug in the date range label


Sunshine – another bug in the date label !


Anemograph – what happened to the 30th?


Hyetograph – finally one that looks right


Hygrograph – date problems again!


Thermograph – with more date problems

Look back at October 2016


Data & Images courtesy of the Met Office