November as sunny as October

These are my best estimates of the sunshine totals across the country for November 2017 from the SYNOPs (fig 1).

Figure 1

As you can see many of the monthly totals from the SYNOP reporting stations were very similar if not a little higher for 30 day November especially in the south and east, than they were for 31 day October, which if you remember was a disappointingly cloudy month (fig 2).

Figure 2

Good to see that Exeter airport was the 3rd and 2nd sunniest respectively for each month.

Exeter sunniest place so far this month

Figure 1

Exeter is the sunniest place in the UK so far this month with 64.8 hours of sunshine, in what’s turning out to be a remarkably sunny November. Further north I should imagine the anomalies are much higher, particularly in SE Scotland where Leuchars in Fife have already seen 60.2 hours of sunshine, but with a much shorter day length than down here in south Devon.

The fact is that November’s have been getting progressively sunnier over the years, this may have something to do with the Clean Air Act of 1956. The two joint sunniest November’s on record in the UK, occurred in 2005 and 2006 according to the Met Office gridded data records that started in 1929.

Figure 2

When autumn leaves start to fall…

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of OGIMET

Autumn might be known as “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, but 2017 is turning out to be a very drab affair, and before we’ve had chance to kick our way through its golden gown in some sunshine, it’ll already be winter. The two inset graphs highlight the top and bottom of the sunshine table this October up to press (23rd October), with sunny Jersey on top with 74.6 hours and Loch Glascarnoch with just 18.9 hours so far (fig 1).

Because the Met Office don’t make available daily climate data for the UK, I’ve added the dullest months of October’s since 1929 to give you a bit of perspective on how 2017 is doing (fig 2). 2017 is not particularly good, but it’s much brighter than many previous October’s have been, so I suppose that should cheer us up a bit. Having said that, the pivot point of the waving cold/warm front seems to be fixed on Devon at the moment, so it could stay rather cloudy down here well into the weekend.

Data Courtesy of the Met Office

I’m getting quite sentimental and nostalgic down here at xmetman grand central today, listening to Nat King Cole sing Autumn Leaves on Spotify, while bashing out some code and writing this blog. Because he’s singing it in French I can’t understand any of it, hence the lyrics.

The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Songwriters: Giorgio Canali / Francesco Magnelli / Gianni Maroccolo / Massimo Zamboni / Giovanni Lindo Ferretti
Autumn Leaves lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

East Anglia tops the Summer Index for 2017

Figure 1

Of all the regions in the UK, East Anglia has the highest Summer Index for 2017, with an index of +10 (fig 1). Western Scotland came bottom of the table with an SI of -11, mainly because the summer was so dull. The UK as a whole returned a disappointing SI of -1, which was lower than the +10 of 2016 (fig 2). Don’t forget the maximum SI a summer can achieve is 48 which it did in 1976. The last really good summer across the UK as a whole according to the SI at any rate, was 2013, with an SI of 32 (fig 2). If you’re new to what the Summer Index and how it’s calculated you can read an article that fully describes how it’s calculated here.

Figure 2

The scatter graph for mean maximum temperature and total rainfall indicate that although the summer had been a little warmer than usual, it was also a lot wetter than average too (fig 3).

Figure 3

The scatter graph of maximum temperature and total sunshine indicate that the summer has been slightly duller than average (fig 4).

Figure 4

Let me know if you notice anything wrong with the various terciles and quintiles, I’m far from perfect.

August 2017 – sunshine

Shoeburyness in Essex came out as the sunniest place in the British Isles in August with 229.6 hours of bright sunshine, knocking sunny Jersey into second place for a change, in what was a below average August as far as sunshine goes, especially in northwestern parts. I still don’t believe the 108.1 hours of sunshine at Liscombe in Somerset despite receiving 100% of the 06 UTC observations from here it still looks low.

Is Liscombe in Somerset, the dullest place in the British Isles?

Figure 1 – Courtesy of Google Maps

 An apology to any residents of Liscombe who may be reading this before I start, because when I say  – is Liscombe the dullest place in the British Isles? I mean with regard to sunshine and nothing else! 

Liscombe, believe it or not, isn’t in Devon as I had always thought, but in Somerset. I forget that the county of Somerset stretches westward almost as far as Foreland point and Lynmouth in the west. The only reason I know about the village of Liscombe is that there is an AWS there, that generates hourly SYNOP reports (fig 1). Here’s a better look at the topography of the immediate area from the OS Map (fig 2). As you can see the Ordnance Survey have even marked where the ‘Meteorological Station’ is on the 1:50,000 map, which incidentally is at around 348 M above sea level, and almost due south of Winsford Hill (428 M) in the Exmoor National Park. I should imagine that hill see’s a good deal of snow in the right situation in winter, but must offer some protection to the village of Liscombe itself from the worst of any weather that comes in from the north.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of Bing Maps and the OS

Well the reason for the blog is that I suspect the sunshine totals are too low this year. Not a heinous crime I know, but I do think sunshine at Liscombe is a bit on the low side this year by quite a margin. I realise that a climate station at well over 1,100 feet does attract a lot of hill fog and upslope stratus, and I’m sure that’s quite a common feature of Winsford Hill in a southwesterly, but even allowing for that, the sunshine this year has been abysmally low. If you look at the sunshine totals across the UK there is usually a lower contoured area across Exmoor that seldom seems to be mirrored over the larger area of high ground over Dartmoor to the southwest in the first seven months of this year (fig 3). It could be the weather patterns have not favoured this part of Exmoor for sunshine of course, and maybe the map is skewed because there isn’t a climate station at a similar height and exposure on Dartmoor reporting sunshine.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the Met Office

All I know is that the sunshine totals at Liscombe since February have been 30% lower than at Exeter, just over 40 km to the south, which seems a wee bit too excessive to my mind (figs 4 & 5). Although as I’ve said sunshine at hill stations may be reduced by the incidence of hill fog and low cloud at times throughout the year, they do have one advantage over places lower down the valley especially in the autumn and winter months, they get off to a better start in the morning, because they often go unaffected by any radiation fog.

Figure 4
Figure 5

Here’s a map with the total number of sunless days (0.0 hours) of sunshine so far this year (fig 6).

Figure 6

As you can see from the map (fig 6) and the table below (fig 7) Liscombe so far this year has the highest number of dull days in the British Isles by some way, with 56 out of the last 235 days being without sun, second in the table is the nearby station of Camborne in Cornwall. By total sunshine accumulations, Liscombe is only the fourth dullest out of 55 stations. I have received 99% of the 06 UTC observation for Liscombe, so it’s not because they haven’t been transmitted.

Figure 7

What may be going on with the AWS at Liscombe, is that the sunshine sensor is somehow malfunctioning, perhaps not all the time, but enough to reduce the sunshine totals each day in some way, and without the Met Office perhaps even noticing. I do know that because there aren’t that many sunshine recorders across Devon, that the lower than average total is picked up on by the monthly sunshine charts (fig 3), as they are based on gridded data which the Liscombe observation will be used in.

Seville sunniest this Summer in Mediterranean

Figure 1

Seville in Andalusia, Spain, is the sunniest place across the central and western mediterranean so far this summer, with 1071.5 hours of sunshine up until the 22nd of August, which as far as I can see is 89.4% of the theoretical maximum, and gives them a daily average of 14.4 hours of sun. If you like watching clouds float by, then Seville is not the place for you, because clouds their in summer have been a scarce commodity this year. There are 16 stations across the area with totals in excess of 1000 hours so far this summer. Wikipedia is a great resource for climate data, and for many larger cities they have a climate table, and the Seville entry is no exception. It seems that the average total for the three meteorological summer months is 999 hours, which is quite handy, because already with a week to go the total is already 7% above average.

I can’t compute the anomalies for all the other stations, because I just don’t have access to the detailed climate averages for across Europe, which is a pity. What we need is a global organisation that could collect and collate climate data from all the nations of the Earth, this organisation could then take the lead in the climate change debate, providing accurate climate and observational data for anyone to access. Let me think what should we could call it? I know, why don’t we call it the World Meteorological Organisation!