March 2016 summary

March was cool, wet and windy, although thanks to a spell of high pressure in the middle of the month it didn’t always feel that way. Total rainfall was 62.4mm which is on the high side for March but within the normal range. The average temperature was 6.6C, about a degree below normal, and there were six air frosts – more than we had in December 2015 or January 2016. In fact, March was colder than both December and January, and only 0.6C warmer than February. The highest temperature during the month was 14.2C on the 25th, the lowest March maximum we have recorded.

A spell of persistent high pressure, the first we have seen for some months, lasted from the 10th to the 21st and brought calm weather. There was some cloud, particularly towards the end of the period, but there were clear days too and when the sun shone it felt warmer than it was – helped by the lack of wind.

This quiet spell was sandwiched between two unsettled periods, with storm Jake early in the month and Katie on the 28th. Jake arrived on the 2nd as a secondary low pressure system which formed quickly over northern England while the “parent” low was north of Scotland. Squally weather here produced gusts to 40kts, but nothing out of the ordinary for March. Low pressure systems continued over the next week with some blustery convective showers, and on the 8th / 9th a low pressure system passing up the English Channel produced persistent overnight rain totalling 18.8mm.

After that soaking the high pressure arrived, and we saw no further rain until the 24th. The 25th saw a brief return to clear weather under a ridge of high pressure, but from the 26th the lows were in charge again. Storm Katie formed to the west of Ireland on the 27th and arrived here in the early hours of the 28th, passing right overhead shortly before 4am: before that time a South Easterly wind was gusting to 25kts, then there was a brief period of calm before a strong westerly wind signalled that the low was moving off east. A gust of 43kts was recorded at 0359, and the temperature dropped from 9.8C to 4C in the fresh polar air. Katie produced 16.2mm of rain.

As we came to the end of the month pressure began to rise again, bringing one final air frost early on the 31st.