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.
November got off to a blustery and rather wet start, a continuation of the Atlantic-dominated weather that we saw in October. A couple of notable features were a very local thunderstorm just after 2200 of 2 November, which brought us 2mm of rain and a temperature drop of 4.5C in nine minutes: and the following day, 3 November, which produced 18.8mm of rain – the highest daily total of the year so far.
The second week of November saw the emergence of high pressure to the west of the UK, which protected us from the worst of the Atlantic weather systems: but it also drew cold air down from the north with night-time temperatures only just above freezing. The high pressure retreated around the 17th allowing Atlantic lows to bring more wind and rain, but by 20th November high pressure was in charge once again and this time it stayed with us for the rest of the month. No rain fell for the last nine days of November, but the first of several air frosts was recorded overnight on the 19th/20th.
The average temperature for November was 7.6C, close to normal for the time of year, and total rainfall was 86.8mm – again, well within the normal range. The spells of high pressure made for a quiet month after a blustery start. Although there were some clear skies there was also a good deal of high-pressure gloom, where cloud becomes trapped beneath a high pressure system and there isn’t enough energy in the sunshine to disperse it.
The average temperature for Autumn 2013 was 11.8C, yet another boringly normal figure, but thanks to the soggy October the total Autumn rainfall was 286.6mm which is rather wet – but not as wet as Autumn 2012 with 325.8mm.
October’s total of 140mm of rain made it the wettest October on record here, and the fourth wettest month since the station was set up in September 2007. There were only two completely dry days, the 10th and the 15th, and there were five days with rainfall totals over 10mm. October 2013 was considerably wetter than October 2012, the Year of the Deluge.
After a dry start to the year, the rainfall total for 2013 is now well into the normal range.
October’s average temperature was 13.1C, about 1.5C above the average for October and the second warmest October on record here. The warmest was October 2011 which averaged 13.2C, but the high average in October 2011 was due largely to exceptional temperatures (up to 28C) in the first three days of the month. October 2013 saw warm and humid spells in the first and third weeks, and there were only a couple of days when the average temperature fell below 10C. The end of the month was not much cooler than the beginning, yet we would expect temperatures to be falling quite rapidly at this time of year.
After all the attention given to the storm on 28th October this has to have a mention, but overall October was only slightly windier than normal. I mentioned in my post on 28 October that the highest gust recorded here was 37.4kts, which isn’t really exceptional – in most years we will see one or two gusts exceeding 40kts. Moreover, the high winds didn’t last long and it was all over in half an hour.
What is now clear is that the low pressure system that generated the wind developed more slowly than anticipated, and as it passed up the Bristol Channel and into the Midlands it was still gathering strength. Hence the east of the country suffered more than we did (and perhaps they aren’t as used to a bit of a blow as we are!), and by the time the low reached Denmark it was at full strength.
None of this takes any credit away from the forecasters, who saw this system coming before it actually existed. The potential for damage and disruption was spotted early, and the track of the low was forecast with increasing accuracy as time went on. The fact that the low deepened a little more slowly than anticipated is a minor issue in a good piece of forecasting.
It’s 0500 on Monday 28th October, and the worst of the anticipated storm seems to have passed. The low pressure system that has been causing so much concern moved up the Bristol Channel from about midnight, and it is now centred over the East Midlands.
Sunday was a blustery day because of a low pressure system that passed to the north of Scotland. That brought us 6.8mm of rain and winds gusting to 28kts. As the system moved off to the east, the barometer here started to fall again at about 1800 – the first sign of the low approaching us from the south west.
A period of light winds from about 2100 was accompanied by continuous rain as the warm front associated with the low approached us. The front arrived here at 0100 bringing an increase in wind speeds to around 10-20kts – breezy but nothing exceptional. Temperatures rose to 16C as the warm sector passed through, and then at about 0415 the cold front arrived. This brought winds of about 24kts gusting to 37.4kts by 0430: but the wind was short-lived, and once the cold front had passed through the windspeed quickly fell back to 10-20kts.
At the time of writing, this system has brought us just over 11mm of rain but there will be more to come during the morning. The maximum gust of 37.4kts at 0422 is the highest so far this year, but it isn’t a record-breaker – we recorded 44kts in December 2008, and 40kts or more has been seen every year since then except for 2011. Our windiest spell was back on 10 March 2008, when windspeeds exceeded 20kts for several hours (and the barometer dropped to 959.4hPa – today’s minimum was 977.5hPa). Today’s high winds only lasted half an hour, so with luck any damage will be limited.
One final point – the rainfall total for October now stands at 126.8mm, and I see that two weeks ago I predicted that our monthly total would not reach the 116mm that we recorded in October 2012. I got that wrong! This month has been by far the wettest so far in 2013,and after a dry start our year-to-date total of 484.4mm is now well into the normal range.
Following a warm start for the first four days of October, temperatures have been right on the average for the rest of the first half of this month. This morning provided a reminder that winter is on the way, though, with a low of 2.9C at 0739 – the lowest temperature so far this autumn. Mist hid the sun for most of the morning and it wasn’t until about 11am that it finally broke through to warm things up a bit.
The warm start to the month brought some heavy rainfall and the current total of 52.4mm isn’t far off the average for a full October, but fortunately we’re not likely to reach the 116mm that we saw in October last year. This year is still our second driest on record with 410mm so far: at this point in 2010 we had recorded 340mm. On the other hand, at the same time in 2008 we had recorded 735.4mm, and in 2012 the figure was 714mm.
September’s average temperature of 14.6C was normal for the time of year, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. With day lengths rapidly shortening we would expect the end of September to be perceptibly cooler than the start, but that didn’t happen this year: the average for the first half of the month was 14.5C, and for the second half it was 14.6C. We would normally expect the second half of September to be around 1.5C cooler than the first.
The cause of this anomaly was a cold spell around the 7th and 8th, when daily average temperatures fell to around 11C, and a warm final week with averages around 16C.
The last week of September was also notable for the lack of wind, thanks to the influence of nearby high pressure systems. From the 21st until the end of the month the maximum wind speed recorded was 4kts, and some days saw hardly any wind at all. This static and rather humid air made it feel warmer still.
Rainfall for the month was 59.8mm, right on the average for September.
August began hot and humid with the temperature reaching 29.3C during the afternoon of 1st August, and moist air being drawn in from the south made it feel even warmer. This proved to be the last of the really high temperatures, though, and remainder of the first week of August brought some lively Atlantic weather systems – a continuation of the pattern that developed at the end of July. There was heavy rainfall often accompanied by thunder and lightning – 12.6mm of rain was recorded on the 5th August, and three-quarters of that fell in the space of one hour.
By the second week of August temperatures had settled down to more normal figures for the time or year. There followed a mixture of sunshine and showers, with many warm and dry days but enough rain to get the grass going again after the heat of July. As the month progressed the showers grew less frequent, and the last week of August saw less than a millimeter of rainfall. Overall, August was a pleasant month and a welcome change from the exceptional heat of July.
August’s rainfall total was 54.2mm, well within the normal range for the time of year. That brings the year-to-date total to 298mm, which is only only 9mm more than we had recorded at this point in the the very dry year of 2010. On the other hand, our rainfall total at the end of August 2012 was nearly double the current figure.
The average temperature for the month was 17.2C, about a degree above normal but nowhere near last month’s exceptional figure of 19.1C. With two warm months in a row, it won’t be a surprise to learn that the summer of 2013 been both the warmest (average 17C) and the driest (102mm) summer yet seen at this weather station, which began recording in September 2007.
September marks the beginning of Autumn and, just in case we needed a reminder, the temperature at 0640 today was just 6.4C.
Today has seen a procession of heavy convective showers moving slowly up the Bristol Channel.
The outstanding feature of July 2013 was the temperatures – last month not only produced a record (for this weather station) high temperature of 31.2C on the 19th, it also saw the highest daytime average (25.7C on the 18th) and the highest average temperature for the month of 19.1C, about 2C higher than normal.
The reason for all this warm weather was a high pressure system that established itself over the UK on the 5th and stuck with us until the 22nd, when it drifted off to Scandinavia. This anti-cyclone blocked the path of Atlantic lows, hence ensuring a prolonged dry spell with lots of clear blue skies and sunshine.
Being near the Bristol Channel, hot weather in this area is often tempered by a daytime sea breeze – the land warms up in the sunshine and heats the air above it, which then rises and draws in cooler air from the sea. On several occasions this meant our temperatures were a few degrees below those recorded further inland, and perhaps that made life a little more comfortable for us. However, for much of the hot spell there was a gentle north-easterly airflow across the country. When this was strong enough to block the sea breeze then our temperatures rose in line with inland areas, hence the record-breaking highs around the 18th and 19th.
The air in these north-easterlies was warmed as it descended from the high pressure system and passed over warm land on its way to us: but it contained little moisture and had no opportunity to absorb water from the sea. Hence there were some unusually low humidity readings, the lowest (another local record) being 23% on the 9th. This made the heat a little more bearable.
Eventually the high pressure moved away, and as the cooler, moist air of the Atlantic met the warm air over the UK there were thunderstorms. Despite some spectacular lightning and dramatic skies, rain totals were unexceptional – the wettest day was 29th July with 8.4mm, and the total for the month was 26.2mm. That total is below average if not exceptional, but the first three weeks of July were very dry indeed with just 0.3mm.
Our rainfall total so far in 2013 is 243.8mm, putting 2013 on a par with the very dry 2010 when we had recorded 210mm at this point. By this time last year, on the other hand, we had recorded 469mm of rain and had just endured a cold, wet July – how things have changed.
Most of today’s band of rain has now passed by, leaving us with a total of 7.8mm as I’m typing this at 9.30pm – by no means an exceptional figure, though it may go up a little before midnight. Some eastern parts of the country are seeing a lot more rain than we have.
Today’s rainfall brings the July 2013 total to 16mm, taking this month comfortably out of the “driest month” category. May 2010 was our driest month on record with 12.4mm, and we had just 15.6mm in April 2011. Barring a deluge in the next few days, this month’s rainfall total will be below average but not a record-breaker, despite the hot spell.
A thunderstorm arrived here at about 0245 today and produced a modest 3.2mm of rain. About half of that total fell in the first five minutes of rainfall, between 0250 and 0255, and the rest over the following three hours.
The thunder was nothing exceptional, but there were some very impressive electrical fireworks. Lightning was more or less constant for over an hour – most of it appeared to be cloud-to-cloud rather than ground strikes.
Our rainfall total for this storm was similar to some other weather stations in the region, but convective rain can vary a great deal over a small area. Some local weather stations saw no rain at all, and one station in Bristol recorded over 18mm in an hour.
The Met Office still have warnings in force for heavy rain, but as I type this at 1040 there is nothing for this area on the rainfall radar. The east of the country seems to be getting a bit of a deluge, though.
The high pressure that has given us so much hot and settled weather is moving away to Scandinavia, clearing the way for Atlantic weather systems to move into the UK. The first occluded front reached here just after 5pm, with a sharp switch from a southerly to a westerly wind and an equally sharp drop in temperature – down by 10C in half an hour. There followed more comfortable evening than we have had for a couple of weeks.
There is the potential for some rain, and maybe thunder, overnight but with a confusion of air masses mingling it’s really difficult to predict where or when it may happen.
Yesterday’s temperature record didn’t last long – it was beaten at 16:42 today when we recorded 31.2C, the highest temperature seen here since the weather station was set up in 2007. The reason, once again, was the absence of any cooling on-shore wind. Instead we have had a gentle north-easterly breeze that has had plenty of time to warm up as it crosses the UK.
Today’s daytime (0600-1800) average was just 0.2C below yesterday’s at 25.6C, but still well above the 2009 record. All this on a day when the forecasters said it would be a little less hot – but higher temperatures still are forecast for next week.
One effect of all this heat brings back memories of 1976 (not that the current weather is up to 1976 standards just yet): the 450 foot hill that gives Brent Knoll its name is slowly turning brown.
With no cooling sea breeze this afternoon the temperature here rose briefly to 30.1C at 17:42, setting a new record for this year.
Today also set a new record of 25.8C for the average daytime (0600-1800) temperature, beating the 25.2C recorded in July 2009 and making today the hottest day since the weather station was set up in 2007.
There is more hot weather forecast for next week, so these records may not last long.
Today was a repeat of yesterday as far as temperatures are concerned: whilst some inland weather stations exceeded 30C, coastal areas were a few degrees cooler and the maximum here today was 27.6C. A welcome breeze took the edge off temperatures all day.
The high pressure system that is generating this warm and settled spell is showing no signs of moving on, so we could be basking in the sun for a while longer. We are nearly half way through July, and just 0.6mm of rain has been recorded. With record rainfall in the year to March it seems odd to be thinking of water shortages, but the ground is very dry and not much is growing. We have already moved from a cold spring to a hot summer: if the current weather continues, we could soon complete the switch from deluge to drought.
The forecast for today is for particularly high temperatures, and by 1300 the thermometer had passed the 30C mark at some inland West Country weather stations. In coastal areas, though, a sea breeze is keeping things a little cooler and the lunchtime temperature at Brent Knoll is 26C.
It will probably get warmer as the afternoon progresses, but there is still some way to go to beat our July 2009 record of 30.8C.
UPDATE at 2100
No temperature records broken here today, despite the forecasts. The maximum recorded at this station today was 27.7C so the record for 2013 remains 29.4C on 8 July, which also saw the highest daytime average so far this year.
It was a different story further inland where several stations in the region topped 30C during the afternoon, but stations nearer the coast were several degrees cooler. Tomorrow is expected to be another warm day, so it will be interesting to see whether we get a repeat of today’s moderating breeze.