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.
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’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.