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Welcome to the web site of Steve and Janet Baggs from Brent Knoll, Somerset, UK. Here you will find occasional updates mostly (but not exclusively) about that great British passion – The Weather.

March 2014 summary

After our extraordinary winter, March was refreshingly ordinary in every way with average temperature, rainfall and pressure figures for the month all falling very close to normal. There were no exceptional winds to cope with, and we even had a couple of air frosts after a frost-free February.

The month started with wet and unsettled weather, and a total of 12mm of rain fell on the 2nd and another 6.2mm on the 6th. However, an area of high pressure soon formed over Europe and pushed the track of the Atlantic lows to our north, bringing an end to the worst of the rain.

By the 10th an area of high pressure covered the UK, leading to very light winds. Unfortunately for this low-lying area it also brought fog, sometimes lasting all day: it was often cold and gloomy here while higher ground a few miles away basked in sunshine.

The high pressure drifted away south around the 20th and we saw a return to unsettled weather with more rain, but once again the lows were deflected northwards by high pressure to our south west and we were protected from the worst of the weather.

Toward the end of the month we found ourselves sandwiched between high pressure over Scandinavia and lows coming in from the Atlantic. Initially this generated a cold easterly wind, but for the last few days of March we were treated to warm air from the south east and a temperature of 19.3C was reached on the 30th – a reminder that spring is here.

The rainfall total for March was 45.4mm, average temperature 7.7C, average barometer 1015.3hPa – all normal figures for this time of year.

Spring has Sprung – official!

The pressure here has just reached 1023.8hPa. Nothing exceptional in that, you may think, except that it is the highest reading we have seen since 11 December 2013 – 12 weeks ago. That underlines quite nicely how much the winter was dominated by low pressure, hence the interminable rain and destructive winds.

Today’s bright and quiet weather reminded me that spring is here, so I went out and gave the grass its first cut of the year. Actually it has been so wet that most of it is moss now, but the thought was there and it looks a bit tidier.

February 2014 summary

The second half of February was much less dramatic than the first. Pressure remained low so there was still plenty of rain – it rained every day except the 16th – and it was persistently breezy, but with no repeat of the gales that we saw in January and early February. The wind was almost exclusively south-westerly so it was mild: not once did the air temperature drop below freezing, though there were a couple of ground frosts.

The month of February and the winter of 2013/14 have seen records falling like ninepins:-

  • It was wettest February recorded here with a rainfall total of 112.8mm*.
  • It was second mildest February we have seen, with an average temperature of 6.8C.
  • It was first February we have recorded with no air frosts.
  • February saw the lowest average pressure for the month of 996.5 hPa, beating last month’s record low of 999.9 hPa.
  • We recorded our highest ever wind gust of 46.1kts early on the 15th February, and our highest average wind speed of 30kts on the 12th.
  • It was by far the windiest February on record here, with a wind run of 3721.4kts*.

* Rainfall and wind run measurements are cumulative, and because February is a short month we should add 9.4% to those figures to make them comparable with other months. That gives us a comparative figure for rainfall of 123.4mm, and for wind run of 4071.8kts. On that basis February was our seventh wettest month on record, and our second windiest.

The winter (Dec / Jan / Feb) of 2013/14 was:-

  • The wettest – not just the wettest winter, but the wettest of any season seen here with a rainfall total of 369.8mm.
  • The mildest, with an average temperature of 6.8C – about 2.5C above normal – and with only eight air frosts which is about one third of what we would expect.

It was not, however, the windiest winter we have seen, as measured by wind run – 2007/8 and 2011/12 were both windier.

For the past two weeks things have got back to normal for the time of year, if a little on the mild side – let’s hope that continues for a while, we have had enough drama for now.

 

More wind and rainfall records

If last night’s gale marked the end of this long run of stormy weather, it went out with a bang as a gust of 46.1kts at 0014 today set a new record for this station. The previous record gust was 44kts in December 2008. The low pressure system that generated last night’s wind was intense, and the barometer here dropped to 967.5hPa at 2130 on the 14th – our lowest value since November 2010.

Although last night brought us a new record wind gust, it was not the most severe gale seen here in recent years – November 2010, March 2011 and January 2012 all saw more powerful gales as measured by wind run over 24 hours. However, none of those followed such a protracted spell of wet and windy weather, and persistent low pressure, as we have seen this winter.

The rainfall total for February now stands at 85.2mm, by far our wettest February on record – and we are only half way through the month. This winter became our wettest on record some time ago, and the total for winter 2013/4 currently stands at 342.2mm. The wettest three-month period recorded here was the last quarter of 2012 when 366.4mm of rain fell – we’ll get close to that figure this winter, but whether we’ll exceed it remains to be seen.

February is still frost-free and current forecasts suggest it may remain that way – this could be the first February seen here when the thermometer never fell below freezing.

More rainfall records

Less than halfway through the month the rainfall total for February is over 70mm, making this by far the wettest February on record here. That follows our wettest month on record in January, and unusually high rainfall totals for October and December 2013. It has rained every day so far this month, and there were only two dry days in January – indeed, there have been only six days with no recorded rain since the beginning of December.

As I type this yet another deep low pressure system is crossing Ireland, bringing us 6.8mm of rain so far today and winds gusting to 40kts. The cold front has just arrived which will bring a respite from the rain, but more lows are heading this way and they will bring more of the same. I commented last week on the low average pressure of 999.9hPa during January, and so far this month that figure is even lower at 989.7hPa. It is the persistence of this run of low pressure systems which is extraordinary, and there seems to be no end in sight.

February seems likely to break the 100mm barrier, and since it is the shortest month we should add about 10% to that total to compare it with other months. So far this winter (December-February) we have recorded 327mm of rain, by far the wettest winter on record here. This winter is already wetter than the autumn of 2012, and it will shortly exceed the total for summer 2012 (332.8mm) as well, making this winter the wettest season we have seen here.

For what it’s worth we have yet to see an air frost this February, and there have been only five air frosts so far this winter – about a quarter of the number we would expect to see during the winter months.

 

January 2014 summary

January’s final rainfall total was 157.8mm, making it the wettest month on record here and beating the previous high (November 2009) by 9mm. There were only two rain-free days, the 19th and the 30th, and the highest daily total was the 18th with 26.6mm – our sixth wettest day on record. All this rain fell on saturated ground after above-average rainfall in October, November and December, so the flooding that has resulted is no surprise.

The rainfall was a consequence of an unrelenting series of low pressure systems and the average barometric pressure for January was 999.9hPa. That is the first time here that a monthly average has dropped below the 1,000hPa mark, and is about 13hPa below normal for the time of year. Low pressure systems also enhanced the effect of high tides early in the month, adding to the flood risk.

Those lows brought in warm, wet air from the Atlantic and it was a mild month, with an average temperature of 6.5C making it our second mildest January since the station was set up in September 2007. There were only two air frosts, with a minimum of -0.7C early on the 12th, and -0.2C on the 5th – we would normally expect more air frosts than that in January.

There were some notable wind gusts during the month with 41.7kts recorded on the 25th and figures in excess of 30kts on the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 26th and 27th. However there were calm spells as well, and the total windrun for the month was 2209kts which is not exceptional for January.

There seems to be no sign of a let-up to the wet weather for the immediate future. Our rainfall total at the end of January is about what we would expect to see by the end of March, so where will be by the end of February is anyone’s guess.

A new monthly rainfall record

January’s rainfall total now stands at 149mm, making this the wettest month since the weather station was set up in September 2007. The previous record-holder was November 2009 with 148.8mm.

This month is the fourth in a row with rainfall substantially above the average, so it is not surprising that so much water is lying on the moors. The last four months (October 2013-Jan 2014) have seen a total of 475mm of rain, around two-thirds of our annual average and more than we recorded in the whole of 2010. It is also more than we recorded during the same period in 2012/13, the end of the wettest year on record.

The reason for this month’s high rainfall is the almost total absence of high pressure systems around the UK – instead, we have been exposed to several slow-moving low pressure systems and hence lengthy periods of rain. The low that is bringing the current wet spell has moved little in the last 48 hours. Some of the low pressure systems have been deep, resulting in gusty winds: the average barometric pressure so far this month is 1000.7hPa, about 13hPa below normal.

Low pressure systems generally bring warm, moist air from the Atlantic, and it has been a mild month so far with very few air frosts. There is time for that to change before the end of February, but so far this winter looks set to be our mildest on record as well as our wettest.

Wet and now windy too.

After another lengthy period of rain yesterday the total for this month now stands at 131.4mm, making this the fifth wettest month on record here. Our all-time wettest month was November 2009 with 148.8mm, and with wind and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow it is possible that we will set a new record this month. It would take another 17.5mm to exceed the November 2009 total, and we have recorded more that that in one day on a couple of occasions this month.

Tomorrow’s wind and rain is linked to a deep low that is expected to arrive off the west coast of Scotland early tomorrow morning. As a bit of a foretaste, a cold front associated with a low pressure system near Iceland passed through here at about 1530 today. It brought only 0.2mm of rain, but it was accompanied by strong winds and we recorded a couple of gusts of 41.7kts – the highest we have seen since November 2010. The highest gust ever recorded here was 44kts in December 2008.

Once today’s cold front had passed the wind soon moderated, but the ground is saturated and if we see similar winds tomorrow then there will be a risk of falling trees to add to concerns about flooding. See the links on this page for weather and flood warnings.

January’s rainfall passes the 100mm mark

The rainfall total for January 2014 has passed the 100mm mark, and this follows high totals for October (140mm), November (86.8mm) and December (99.2mm). It has rained every day so far in 2014, and the ground remains thoroughly saturated.

Not only is this already the wettest January we have recorded here, with another 12 days to run, but this will soon be the wettest winter (Dec-Feb) we have recorded. Our average winter rainfall total since 2007 has been just under 160mm, and the winter of 2012/13 saw a record figure of 205.2mm. This winter’s rainfall now stands at 200mm: so a new winter record is about to be set, six weeks before the spring arrives.

There is some way to go before we challenge a couple of other very wet periods: during the last quarter of 2012 we recorded 366.4mm, and July / August / September 2008 saw a total of 361.2mm. With the ground as wet as it is, that is probably something we can do without.

Update 19 Jan – yesterday’s total was 26.6mm by the time the rain stopped at about 2300, making it the wettest day here since September 2012. Our year-to-date total is 112.8mm so 2014 is off to a very soggy start.

Our wettest January on record – and we’re only half way through

This morning’s rainfall takes our total so far this month to 81.2mm (it will probably be more by the time you read this), making this the wettest January on record here since our records started in September 2007 – and we’re only half way through the month. The previous record was set in January 2008 when we recorded 77.6mm for the whole month, and our average for January is around 60mm.

The first half of this month has also been unusually mild with an average of 7.1C, which is about 2C above normal for the time of year. January 2008 was also very mild, with an average for the whole month of 7.4C.

January 2008 and the first half of January 2014 were both dominated by low pressure systems which brought in warm, wet air, hence the above-average rainfall totals and temperatures. There is plenty of time for things to change before the end of the month, but at this stage the forecast is for more of the same – so it’s looking like a warm, wet start to the year.

December 2013 and year summary

Hard though it may be to believe now, after we have been battered by one low pressure system after another over the Christmas break, December began with quiet, dry weather and high pressure in charge. As often happens during the winter months there was a good deal of cloud trapped under the high pressure system, which meant we saw little in the way of frosts: instead it was mild and gloomy, with daytime temperatures often getting well into double figures thanks to warm air from the south.

This quiet spell was interrupted by a deep low that moved down the North Sea on 5th December, generating a storm surge and threatening the east coast of the UK with flooding. We felt the edge of this system as a day of blustery winds, but the high pressure and quiet weather soon returned.

The high moved away on the 12th/13th December, and without its protection we were soon treated to an unrelenting procession of Atlantic low pressure systems – some of them very lively. The Atlantic charts became a mass of isobars and fronts as depressions merged and new ones were generated. Several days in the second half of December saw gusts in excess of 30kts, with the maximum being 38.3kts at 0443 on 27 December. There was a good deal of heavy and persistent rain too, with 20.4mm on 23 December. Rain was recorded every day from the 11th to 31st December.

The rainfall total for December was 99.2mm, making it the second wettest December recorded here (the total for December 2012 was 109.6mm). The lowest temperature was a modest -2.2C and the highest was 14.1C, the highest December reading since 2007. The average for the month was 7.1C, about 2C above normal and the warmest December since 2011 (7.6C).

2013 started very dry, with rainfall for the first four months below even 2010 levels. Rainfall remained well below average until October, which turned out to be our second-wettest month on record with 140mm. That total brought our annual rainfall to normal levels, and by the end of the year we had recorded 683.8mm – a little below average, but well within the normal range.

If the early part of 2013 was dry, it was also cold – average temperatures for February, March and April were all well below normal and it felt as if winter would never end. Spring didn’t really get under way until May, but then came the summer to turn everything on its head.

The summer of 2013 will be remembered for its high temperatures, peaking at 31.2C on 19 July – the highest temperature recorded here. The average temperature for July was 19.1C, also a new record. All this heat generated some spectacular thunderstorms, and it remained warm right into September.

October was warm and wet, with a much-publicised storm moving up the Bristol Channel on the 28th – but it didn’t really get into its stride until later on, and we saw just a brief spell of high winds in the small hours. November was unexceptional, but December was mild, wet and windy too – the end of a year of contrasts.

New record wind gust

Another deep low pressure system brought us high winds last night, with a gust at 0442 setting a new record for this year of 38kts – just beating the 37.4kts recorded on 28 October. At the time of writing (0920) the low is moving away across Scotland, pressure is starting to rise and the wind is moderating, and we should be having a more peaceful day today.

Watercourses are still full and the ground is staurated, but fortunately this low brought relatively modest amounts of rain: a total of 4.6mm fell yesterday evening and this morning, compared with over 20mm on the 23rd.

Wettest day of the year – so far

Yesterday’s lively weather produced 20.4mm of rain from midnight to midnight, which makes it the wettest day so far in 2013. We don’t have to go back far to find a higher total, though: 22 December 2012 was wetter with 22.2mm, so yesterday’s total was the highest for a year and a day.

It was certainly windy, but the maximum gust of 34.8kts at 1140 is no record-breaker. We recorded 37.4kts in the mini-storm of 28th October, and we have topped 40kts in most years since 2007. The wind was prolonged, though, because it was the product of more than one low-pressure system – the Atlantic chart was complex with several low pressure systems merging as the day wore on, each contributing more bands of rain. The heaviest rainfall came at 1435, when 3mm of rain fell in less than five minutes.

December’s rainfall total so far is 78.8mm which means we are already above the December average, and the procession of deep Atlantic lows shows no signs of abating: we may not have seen the last of the wind and rain. Whether we reach last year’s December total of 109.6mm remains to be seen, but the ground is now saturated and further heavy rainfall will have nowhere to go.

It looks as if there will be some respite for the next couple of days, though, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry but peaceful Christmas.

A warm December night

Last night (1800-0600 on 15th/16th December) saw an average temperature of 13.3C, a night-time figure more typical of the summer months than mid-December. It isn’t quite a new December record for this station because we saw 13.4C one night in December 2007, but the last five days have been unusually mild thanks to a warm and rather blustery southerly airstream – a marked contrast to the calm conditions earlier in the month when high pressure was in charge.

The average temperature so far in December is 7.5C which is well above average, but there is plenty of time yet for that to change. With wet and windy weather forecast for the coming few days, though, there is no indication of cold weather between now and Christmas, so the above-normal average could stay with us.

Rainfall so far this month is 23.8mm, well within the normal range.