So long Winter, see you in nine months time

After the Winter we have witnessed here in the United Kingdom, I think most would welcome a human type gestation period of calm before the rebirth of a Winter anything like the one we’ve just witnessed. By way of example, just how wet was it? Here is the view from the UK Met Office. To add a personal perspective, here’s the Davis data for my locale from Berkshire in England.

December 2013 precipitation

December 2013 precipitation

January 2014 precipitation

January 2014 precipitation

February 2014 precipitation

February 2014 precipitation

When viewing the above charts, I have put in a false red line which shows in my view at least, the days you would normally describe as soakers, i.e. those producing 10mm or more, which is the equivalent of approximately 2/5ths of an inch. In actual Meteorological terms, a “wet” day is where precipitation exceeds 2mm and a “very wet” day is classed as a day on which 20mm is exceeded. So yes, you can safely say Winter 2013/14 has been wet in my patch with only 20 out of the 90 days registering as a day without precipitation*. However, it wasn’t necessarily my region which made the headlines. The attached link from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) shows the devastating effects of the flooding from Somerset. On there you should be able to view other reports, complete with video clips, from other UK regions which were affected by the odd Winter weather. We should not forget that it was also very windy on occasions, although my own readings are lower than most, you can see from the attached images, where winds have exceeded the 38mph mark as indicated by my red line. This dates can be described as Gale days, although perhaps not strictly under Meteorological definition. Any wind gusts which exceed the green line shown would normally represent a windy day for my location, based on my own experiences of past events.

December 2013 Top Wind Gusts

December 2013 Top Wind Gusts

January 2014 Top Wind Gusts

January 2014 Top Wind Gusts

February 2014 Top Wind Gusts

February 2014 Top Wind Gusts

As for snow, well, Scotland nicked it all, this article again from the BBC being typical of highland Scotland’s Winter in 2013/14. For the rest of the British Isles, it had been a very poor one for those who wanted to see some wintry ice crystals, in fact I barely saw two days of sleet throughout the whole Winter. The Air Temperatures weren’t especially noteworthy with the mean for the Winter as a whole, somewhere around 1c above the long-term average, based on the 1981-2010 CET series. The lack of Air Frosts was notable for my location however, with only nine (9) being achieved in total and not all of these were before dawn due to my 24 hour reporting periods. As for the effect on the Natural World by way of phenology, more reports on that are forthcoming.

*only one dry day in January and this fell within a period of 33 days with only the one dry day in total

and

Shock horror, a cool showery April for a change

Tony:

No, you did not imagine it, it has been miserable for far too long so I haven’t ventured out much. This is partly the reason for my lack of posts, alongside a busier working life. More news to come, honest!

Tony Powell

Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

These are early figures covering 1 – 25 of April and not full month statistics, so are therefore very likely to change. Especially regarding ranking. Full month figures will not be available until provisionally Wednesday 2 May.

Figures for 1 – 25 April show the month so far has seen well above average rainfall across the UK, with 97 mm of rain recorded – this is 139% of the long-term monthly average (1971-2000). The wettest April in the records dating back to 1910 was 2000 which saw 120.3 mm of rain.

Currently the month is the 9th wettest April for the UK in the records. However, it’s not possible to say where the month will end up in the records until all the figures are in at the end of the month – especially as we are expecting heavy rain on Sunday.

Some areas have seen significant rainfall amounts with some parts of the…

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“All eyes to the South” once the snow clears

Today has been a mix of wet snowflakes and cold sleety rain. Temperatures, which had been falling earlier, are now on the rise, so I am somewhat glad to be indoors.

Now that the official winter climate statistics are in, it is time to have a look back at how the season fared. This is achievable courtesy of this link – here. My figures tie in nicely with the actual C.E.T. Temperatures, with my anomaly being approximately 0.6C above average. The rainfall figures continue to show their undeniably downward trend, with a deficit of 43mm or so. According to my figures, we have received only 73% of the average precipitation across the winter season with 82% officially reported for England as a whole. After the warmth and dryness of autumn, I do hope spring brings us much-needed rainfall. With plans locally for yet more urban development (many thousands of new houses), our natural ecosystems will face damage beyond recognition. 

On a lighter note, the spring equinox, is approaching fast and migrant birds are on the move. I like to track this phenomenon online and there are many ways to do so. A website that I would highly recommend is The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society. The aforementioned website can be an excellent resource for tracking the incoming and outgoing African migrants due to its global position. In addition, from a UK perspective, I use reports from birdguides and it is from here, that I will quote a few recent highlights.

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) have possibly overwintered in the UK once again, with more recent coming from Cork and East Sussex.

Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) are being quite widely reported in low numbers. Yorkshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Manchester and Pembrokeshire, has reported this species so far.

Reports of Stone-curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus) received from Devon and West Sussex and a Hoopoe (Upupa epops) from Nottinghamshire are interesting. I am also aware of two reports of Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), one being in January from West Yorkshire and a February sighting from Gloucestershire.

I suspect there are other tales of interesting sightings and it shows the build up to migration changeover is gathering pace.

Best Wishes

Tony Powell

A wintry weekend in store

Tony:

So the UK’s winter is finally set to bite. Will I be getting snow or cold rain, come the weekend? Some answers to this being above, courtesy of the professionals.

Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

This weekend will see a marked change in the weather as the dry spell makes way for snow and ice in many parts.

Over the past few days we have seen the coldest spell of winter so far, as very cold air has flooded across the UK from the continent. Temperatures have dropped as low as -9.4 °C in Shap, Cumbria, and -10 °C is possible in places tonight.

Snow showers are expected along parts of the eastern coastline today and tomorrow, but most places will continue to see bright, dry and cold conditions.

Things are set to change as we go through into Saturday, however, as an Atlantic front moves in from the west.

Paul Gundersen, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “As this front moves in from the west it will come up against cold air and we’re likely to see a mixture of rain, sleet and…

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Hello 2012 and here comes the climate change indicators

The year 2012 is upon us and the UK’s climate is continuing with its bizarre approach. Today, the 3rd January has seen 54mph gusts at my sheltered location and winds in excess of 100mph in other parts. Christmas Day and New Years Eve and New Years Day all possessed temperatures 3 to 4c above normal.

So, what of this new era, how is nature coping with the upheaval?

One thing for sure, the phenological indicators are keeping me on my toes.

Firstly, Winter Aconite (illustrated below) has bloomed in my garden at its earliest date on record, the 27th December. The range, being represented by 12 personal records is from 27th December right through to 24th January. 

 Winter Aconite -Eranthis hyemalis.

Known as choirboys in Suffolk and more commonly as wolfs bane, Winter Aconite is a member of the Buttercup family. It is a tough plant, being tolerant of frost, snow and ice. The harshest winters bring about the best show of this beautiful flower. It will bloom all the way into March in most years. Although a popular ornamental plant, it is known to be poisonous. Occasionally planted alongside Snowdrops and other early bloomers, they are a joy to behold on a crisp sunny winters day. I know of a wonderful display under a canopy of deciduous trees near Andover in Hampshire, England. I will be visiting there in a couple of week’s time to see how the Aconites are progressing.

More phenology will be forthcoming, people.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

Wild Week Ahead for the United Kingdom

A weather related post again from me.

Here’s the latest advice for the upcoming working week, from those in the know, in the world of meteorology.

Wild Week Ahead – Latest Weather News – Netweather.tv.

Enough said and confidence is very high as its been on the weather forecasts since Friday Night.

Tony Powell

Hello winter.

Welcome to winter, well only in terms of the meteorological calendar, is it winter. Confused, see the winter solstice pages here.

So on reflection, what was meteorological Autumn like, well when looking back at my weather station, you can clearly see the UK (at least the southern part) was both, exceptionally mild and dry. The figures in the red boxes show consecutively warmer months, with November notably warmer than average. The figures in the blue boxes show the worrying rainfall deficit, each month, being well below normal.

Looking back at Autumn
Looking back at Autumn

Actually, if December was to become even a normal month, in terms of precipitation, i.e. with 64.7mm falling from the skies from this point on. The deficit would still be, well over 100mm (4 inches) in old money. It would be depressing times indeed, if this were to continue, furthermore the official forecasts I’ve seen, suggest it will. Into 2012 and beyond, there is likely to be a desperate need for water in Southern England, because bizarrely, the current government wishes to reinvigorate our economy, by creating yet more urban development. This part of the country is already under strain in terms of its population, a crude estimate of 25 million, with 12-14 million in the London area alone. Sadly, in my opinion, the first thing requiring reinvigorating is the rainfall. Statistically, the trend of decreasing rainfall down south has been continuing for many a recent year. However, much further north, the reality is most certainly different.

This is most definitely, a cause for debate.

Best Wishes

Tony Powell