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.