Saturday’s squally weather and reports of tornadoes

27 01 2014

On Saturday we saw a number of heavy rain showers group together in what’s known as a ‘squall line’ – a narrow band of thunderstorms, intense rain, hail, and frequent lightning accompanied by brief but very strong gusts of wind and possibly tornadoes.

Radar image showing the narrow band of showers moving across the UK.

Radar image showing the narrow band of showers moving across the UK.

This squall line swept across Wales and then moved south east across southern parts of England – bringing about 6mm of rain to places in a very short period of time with gusts of wind of around 60mph or more in places.

It  also had the characteristics of a cold front, with the temperature ahead of it being around 11°C, falling to 7°C once the squall line had passed.

There have been reports of possible weak tornadoes from some locations, however it’s hard to verify them without pictures or footage because these features are generally too small to be picked up by satellites or weather observation equipment.

It’s also worth noting that squally winds can often be mistaken for tornadoes because these gusts can be sudden and strong – potentially causing very localised damage.

You can see more information on tornadoes and how they form on our website.





June set to be slightly drier and sunnier than average

28 06 2013

Provisional Met Office early June figures suggest that it has been drier than average and slightly sunnier than usual so far this month.

Rainfall for the UK from 1-26 June was 37.8 mm. At this stage we would expect to have seen about 87 % of the full month average, however we have only seen 52 %.

Up to the 26th we have seen 163 hours of sunshine in the UK, which is 96 % of the full month average – suggesting we are on track for a sunnier than average month.

However, the mean UK temperature up to the 26th has been recorded at 12.7 °C which is -0.3 °C below the 1981-2010 long-term average for the month.

The average maximum temperature so far this June is 17.1°C which is very close to the long-term average of 17.3 °C.

Looking at the individual countries, Scotland and Northern Ireland have had slightly above average temperatures so far.  Scotland’s mean temperature has been 11.5 °C (0.2 °C above average) and Northern Ireland’s has been 13.0 °C (0.2 °C above average).

Wales had the most sunshine with190.6 hours, already above the full-month long-term average.

Northern Ireland has had the most rain so far with 79.8 mm compared with England’s below average 27.5 mm and Scotland’s 45.3 mm.

Temperatures of 26.4 °C at Herstmonceux, East Sussex (19 June) and Mickleham, Surrey (20 June) are the hottest days in the UK so far.

The hottest day in Wales so far this year was at Usk (25.1°C on 19 June).

Scotland’s hottest day was at Glenlee (24.5 °C on 8 June) and Northern Ireland’s hottest day of the year so far was on 9 June (24.5 °C) at Magilligan.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
1-26 June Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 12.7 -0.3 163.0 96 37.8 52
England 13.4 -0.7 168.2 92 27.5 44
Wales 12.7 -0.5 190.6 110 45.9 54
Scotland 11.5 0.2 148.9 99 45.3 51
N Ireland 13.0 0.2 150.4 100 79.8 105




April drier and colder than average

2 05 2013

After the wettest April on record in 2012, provisional full-month Met Office figures show this April has been slightly drier than average in the UK.

Rainfall throughout the UK was 64 mm this year, compared to the 1981-2010 average of 72.7 mm. That’s considerably less than the 128 mm we saw last year.

There were big regional differences in April rainfall this year. Scotland saw 121.2 mm of rain which is above the 91.1 mm average and Northern Ireland saw 75.2mm, almost spot on the 75.0 mm average.

However, both England and Wales saw well below average rainfall. Wales had 50.3mm, compared to an average of 89.3mm, and England saw 30.4mm, compared to an average of 58.7 mm.

The month was characterised by generally cold and dry weather, following on from the theme set in March. Despite this, April registered as only slightly colder than average with a mean UK temperature of 6.3 °C, which is 1.1 °C below the 7.4 °C long-term average.

This is the same mean temperature as recorded in April 2012. To find a colder April than the last two years, you have to go back to 1989 – which saw a mean temperature of 5.5 °C.

Scotland saw the coldest temperatures compared to country specific averages, with a mean temperature of 4.8 °C, which is 1.3 °C below average – and is the same temperature as recorded in 1998.

The warmest day of the month was 25 April at Faversham in Kent when the temperature recorded was 23.1°C.

In terms of sunshine, Scotland was sunnier than the rest of the UK with hours of sunshine totalling 170.9, followed by Northern Ireland with 168.0, England at 167.7 and Wales at 162.7 hours.

This compares with only 127.9 hours of sunshine in April last year throughout the UK. The sunniest April in the last 10 years was 2007 with 203.5 hours.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
Apr-13 Actual Diff to Avg Actual Diff to Avg Actual Diff to Avg
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 6.3 -1.1 168.4 114 64 88
England 7.2 -0.9 167.7 108 30.4 52
Wales 6.4 -1.2 162.7 105 50.3 56
Scotland 4.8 -1.3 170.9 127 121.2 133
N Ireland 6.5 -1.1 168 115 75.2 100




Updated: Latest snow depths Friday 18 January

18 01 2013

As forecast, many areas of the UK have had heavy snowfall today, particularly in Wales and the south and west of England.

The heaviest snowfall so far has been in Wales, where a red warning is currently in place. Sennybridge in Powys currently has the highest total, with 26 cm of snow recorded at 12 pm today.

somersetsnow

Updated snow depths at 12 pm Friday 18 January

Location Area Elevation Snow depth ( Cm)
Sennybridge Powys 307 26
Dunkeswell Aerodrome Devon 252 15
Filton Avon 59 12
Larkhill Wiltshire 132 11
Liscombe Somerset 348 11
Middle Wallop Hampshire 90 11
Brize Norton Oxfordshire 82 10
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 298 9
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 9
Hurn Dorset 10 6
St Athan South Glamorgan 49 6
Boscombe Down Wiltshire 126 6
Northolt Greater London 33 5
Coleshill Warwickshire 96 5
Aviemore Inverness-Shire 228 5
Boulmer Northumberland 23 5
Trawsgoed Dyfed 63 4
Marham Norfolk 21 4
Shawbury Shropshire 72 4
Scampton Lincolnshire 57 4
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 236 4
Wattisham Suffolk 89 4
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 117 4
Wittering Cambridgeshire 73 3
Leconfield Humberside 7 3
Cranwell Lincolnshire 63 3
Dyce Aberdeenshire 65 3
Bingley West Yorkshire 262 3
Odiham Hampshire 118 3
Bridlington Mrsc Humberside 15 3
Heathrow Greater London 25 2
Charlwood Surrey 67 2
Andrewsfield Essex 87 2
Benson Oxfordshire 57 2
Coningsby Lincolnshire 6 2
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 8 2
Rostherne Cheshire 35 2
Albemarle Northumberland 142 2
Redesdale Camp Northumberland 211 2
Aboyne Aberdeenshire 140 2
Yeovilton Somerset 20 1
Aberporth Dyfed 133 1

Snow depths at 2 pm Friday 18 January

Location Area Elevation Snow depth ( Cm)
Sennybridge Powys 307 25
Filton Avon 59 15
Larkhill Wiltshire 132 12
Liscombe Somerset 348 12
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 11
Middle Wallop Hampshire 90 11
Brize Norton Oxfordshire 82 11
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 298 10
Coleshill Warwickshire 96 7
Northolt Greater London 33 7
Boscombe Down Wiltshire 126 7
Shawbury Shropshire 72 7
Hurn Dorset 10 7
St Athan South Glamorgan 49 5
Scampton Lincolnshire 57 4
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 117 4
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 236 4
Marham Norfolk 21 4
Yeovilton Somerset 20 4
Heathrow Greater London 25 4
Charlwood Surrey 67 4
Odiham Hampshire 118 4
Wattisham Suffolk 89 4
Trawsgoed Dyfed 63 4
Wittering Cambridgeshire 73 4
Aboyne Aberdeenshire 140 3
Leconfield Humberside 7 3
Cranwell Lincolnshire 63 3
Dyce Aberdeenshire 65 3
Waddington Lincolnshire 68 3
Boulmer Northumberland 23 3
Leeming North Yorkshire 33 3
Bingley West Yorkshire 262 3
Bridlington Mrsc Humberside 15 3
Benson Oxfordshire 57 3
Andrewsfield Essex 87 2
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 8 2
Rostherne Cheshire 35 2
Albemarle Northumberland 142 2
Redesdale Camp Northumberland 211 2
Coningsby Lincolnshire 6 2
Bedford Bedfordshire 85 2

Snow depths at 3 pm Friday 18 January

Location Area Elevation Snow depth ( Cm)
Sennybridge No 2 Powys 307 25
Filton Avon 59 16
Dunkeswell Aerodrome Devon 252 15
Larkhill Wiltshire 132 12
Brize Norton Oxfordshire 82 12
Liscombe Somerset 348 12
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 12
Middle Wallop Hampshire 90 10
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 298 9
Coleshill Warwickshire 96 8
Northolt Greater London 33 8
Boscombe Down Wiltshire 126 7
Shawbury Shropshire 72 7
Hurn Dorset 10 7
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 117 6
Heathrow Greater London 25 5
Marham Norfolk 21 5
Odiham Hampshire 118 5
Aviemore Inverness-Shire 228 5
Cranwell Lincolnshire 63 4
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 236 4
Scampton Lincolnshire 57 4
Yeovilton Somerset 20 4
Charlwood Surrey 67 4
Wittering Cambridgeshire 73 4
Wattisham Suffolk 89 4
Trawsgoed Dyfed 63 4
St Athan South Glamorgan 49 4
Benson Oxfordshire 57 3
Leeming North Yorkshire 33 3
Lough Fea Londonderry 225 3
Waddington Lincolnshire 68 3
Bridlington Mrsc Humberside 15 3
Leconfield Humberside 7 3
Bedford Bedfordshire 85 3
Aboyne No 2 Aberdeenshire 140 3
Dyce Aberdeenshire 65 3
Bingley, No 2 West Yorkshire 262 3
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 8 2
Coningsby Lincolnshire 6 2
Andrewsfield Essex 87 2
Rostherne No 2 Cheshire 35 2
Boulmer Northumberland 23 2

Further snowfall is forecast today and tomorrow. Keep up to date with your local forecasts and warnings for the latest information.

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How wet has 2012 been? Is it a record breaker?

27 12 2012

Provisional figures from the Met Office from 1 January to 26 December 2012 show that some parts of the UK have already had their wettest year on record.

New records have been set in England (1095.8 mm), northern England (1253 mm), E and NE England (1042.1 mm), Midlands (1048.2 mm), and East Anglia (788 mm), in a series that goes back to 1910.

A further 46 mm of rain is needed from 27 to 31 December for this to be the wettest year on record for the UK overall – the UK has had 1291.2 mm of rain from 1 January to 26 December. The wettest year on record for the UK is 2000 with 1337.3 mm.

2012 rainfall anomaly 1 Jan to 26 Dec

2012 rainfall anomaly 1 Jan to 26 Dec

In terms of temperature and sunshine the year as a whole is set to be unremarkable, both being around normal. However, overall 2012 is set to be cooler than 2011, but warmer than 2010.

  mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1 January to 26 December 2012 Actual Difference from 1981-2010 average Actual Percentage of 1981-2010 average Actual Percentage of 1981-2010 average
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 8.7 -0.1 1354.1 99 1291.2 112
England 9.5 -0.1 1467.1 98 1095.8 128
Wales 9.1 -0.1 1354.0 97 1649.5 113
Scotland 7.3 -0.1 1186.8 100 1546.3 98
N Ireland 8.9 0.0 1234.0 98 1134.8 100
England & Wales 9.5 -0.1 1451.5 98 1172.2 125
England N 8.7 -0.1 1357.0 99 1253.0 129
England S 9.9 -0.1 1525.4 98 1012.6 128

More about the record breaking year of 2012





Is it the wettest UK summer on record?

26 08 2012

This summer started with the wettest June in the UK in the national records which go back to 1910 and was followed up by a wetter than average July (16th wettest), so are we set for the wettest summer on record?

Officially, in meteorological terms, summer runs from the start of June to the end of August – so there are still a few days to go for this year.

The Met Office holds many different climate datasets but uses the UK national series that goes back to 1910 when referring to records.

In this dataset, the record to beat was set in 1912, when the UK had 384.4mm of rain – although we don’t have to look too far back to find a very wet summer, as 2007 is third in the rankings with 357.8mm. The 1971-2000 average for the UK in summer is 226.9mm.

Looking at this year, we have the figures for June and July, but for the UK as a whole we currently only have data up to 15 August – which show rainfall had been slightly below average to that point.

That means we can say with some certainty that we have seen 300.8mm of rain so far this summer (145.3mm in June, 115.9mm in July, and 39.6mm to 15 August), ranking 20th in the records.

There has been a fair amount of rain since then, so that ranking is sure to have climbed – but it’s not possible to say until all the numbers have been crunched at the end of this month.

It’s important to remember that the UK total rainfall is effectively an average of the rain that falls across the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – so looking at one station, or even one country, isn’t a reliable indicator of how much rain we’ve seen for the UK as a whole.

We can say that this summer is likely to be one of the wettest on record – some may argue that, as it’s already in the top 20% in records dating back to 1910, it already is one of the wettest on record.

We can also say that this year has continued a disappointing run of UK summers which started in 2007 – all of which have seen above average rainfall and, with the exception of 2009, below average sunshine hours.

However, we cannot say where this year will finish in the rankings or whether it will challenge the record set in 1912. For that final assessment, we’ll have to wait until after the end of August.

You can see a discussion about the causes of this year’s unsettled summer in an article posted earlier on our blog.





Another wet and windy June weekend

15 06 2012

It has been reported that this weekend’s weather is a once-in-50 year occurrence. In reality, last week’s weather was much more significant with winds recorded up to 84 mph and rainfall of 127 mm in parts of Wales. Although we are in for some wet and windy weather for the next couple of days, by Sunday and for the start of the new working week the weather looks set to be quieter with more sunshine, fewer showers, lighter winds and a warmer feel.

We have seen some more wet and windy weather this week, with heavy and persistent rain affecting many areas last night. However, rainfall totals and wind speeds have not been as severe as they were this time last week, when we saw disruption in west Wales and, later, south-east England.

Satellite image 15 June 2012 showing wet and windy weather over the UK.

The current warnings in place for Wales, the Midlands, northern England and Northern Ireland may seem to last for a long time as they are out for a 48 hour period. However, as Met Office Severe Weather Warnings are based on the impacts of the weather, it is important to ensure the public are aware of how long the worst of the weather will last. The longest warning issued by the Met Office was for the very cold snap in the winter of 2010/2011, where much of the UK was blanketed in yellow warnings for Ice untreated roads and pavements. These warnings were in place for as many as five days in a row.





More wet weather to come

11 06 2012

The UK has seen some exceptionally wet weather over the past week and there is more rain to come this week

Severe Weather Warnings are in place today for parts of the south of England, with up to 80 mm of rain possible in most severely affected areas

Outbreaks of rain are likely on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the heaviest showers expected in western parts. Further unsettled weather is expected to push in from the west on Thursday.

This follows a week which has seen some very high rainfall totals across parts of the country.

Throughout this period the Met Office has been working round-the-clock to keep the public, partner agencies and emergency responders up-to-date with our latest forecasts.

Rob Varley, Operations and Services Director at the Met Office, said: “Our forecasts and severe weather warnings have helped the emergency services deliver the fantastic response we have seen over the past few days.

The media have also done a great job in widely publicising the key messages from our forecasts to make sure the public had the latest advice.”

Simon Sheldon-Wilson, the Highways Agency’s Traffic Management Director, said: “Severe wet weather has affected road users in the south, the east and the north west, but timely forecasts from the Met Office have enabled us to minimise disruption.

“With more wet weather to come this week, our advice to drivers is that wet roads can reduce visibility and increase the time it takes to stop by up to ten times, so leave plenty of time and space between you and the vehicle in front. If your vehicle starts to lose its grip in wet conditions, slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator. Try to avoid sudden braking or steering because this could cause you to skid and lose control.”

Wales has seen some of the most disruptive weather, with persistent and heavy rain from Thursday through to Saturday causing flooding.

Our Severe Weather Warnings for the area forecast in excess of 80 mm of rain – close to the top totals seen, with Trawsgoed in Dyfed, Wales, seeing 102.0 mm from 10am on Thursday to 10am on Saturday. This is well over its usual entire monthly average for June of 78.5mm.

With more unsettled weather to come over the next week, the public are advised to stay up-to-date with the latest forecasts and warnings from the Met Office and flood warnings from the Environment Agency.





Guest blog: It’s raining – why have we still got a drought?

20 04 2012

Trevor Bishop is Head of Water Resources at the Environment Agency. Here he explains why, despite the rain, we are still in a drought.

In true bank holiday spirit the weather turned wet for the Easter holidays and it doesn’t seem to have stopped since. So is there still a drought? The answer is yes – it’s going to take more than a week or two of rain to undo the effects of nearly two years of below average rainfall. The recent rain is good for farmers and gardeners, and the cool temperatures ease the pressure on fish and wildlife in rivers. But with dry soils most of the rain will be soaked up – or, worse still, run off quickly if the surface is compacted, causing flash floods. But it won’t reach down far enough to top up groundwater, which is what we really need.

More rain now will really help us get through the summer, and is good for the environment, farmers and gardeners, but it’s very unlikely to be enough to recharge the groundwater. As we move from spring to summer, most of the rain that falls is either evaporated as temperatures rise or taken up by plants as they grow.

You can keep up to date with the water situation here.  This shows that while river flows have recently risen in western and northern England and in Wales, groundwater and rivers in the south and east remain exceptionally low for this time of year. Much of our tap water in the south east comes from groundwater so it’s still important we use less water, even when it’s raining.





Why are we in drought?

13 03 2012

Rainfall amounts across many parts of the UK have been below average for the last two years. Importantly, this includes two dry winters – the periods when we would normally expect our rainfall to replenish river, reservoir and groundwater levels.

2010 was the eleventh-driest year in the series from 1910 and the driest since 2003. The dry weather continued during 2011 with large parts of central, eastern and southern England having well below average rainfall – several Midland counties – such as Shropshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire – had their driest year on record.

Map showing the rainfall seen between Nov 2010 and Feb 2012 compared to the long-term average for the same period

This emphasises why there are concerns about drought in parts of England and Wales.

There is no one reason for the dry weather over the last few years; it’s all part of the natural variability of the UK climate. However the dominance of high pressure systems over Europe has been a significant influence. These areas of high pressure effectively block the path of the Atlantic weather systems that bring us our usual wind and rain and this has happened relatively frequently over the last couple of years.

Looking back to the drought of 1976 we can see that in contrast to this year, the whole of the UK was subject to a prolonged period of below average rainfall. Between May 1975 and Aug 1976 only parts of the Western Isles and Western Highlands saw rainfall even a little above normal. Many parts of England and Wales saw only half or less of the rainfall that we could normally expect in that time.

Map showing the rainfall seen between May 1975 and Aug 1976 compared to the long-term average for the same period.

This table shows how much rainfall fell across the UK in 1975-76 compared to 2010-12:

Region/district May 75-Aug 76 total (mm) % of 61-90 average Nov 10-Feb 12 total (mm) % of 61-90 average
UK 1018 72 1502 99
England 689 64 929 82
Wales 1097 62 1658 84
Scotland 1527 82 2386 117
Northern Ireland 1098 78 1638 108
England & Wales 745 64 1030 82
N England 855 69 1212 94
S England 601 60 780 74
N Scotland 1742 86 2564 114
E Scotland 1062 74 1730 113
W Scotland 1734 83 2843 123
E & NE England 666 67 901 88
NW England & N Wales 1160 71 1690 96
Midlands 622 61 780 74
East Anglia 524 65 579 72
SW England & S Wales 907 59 1383 81
Central S & SE England 584 59 824 78

We are working closely with the Environment Agency, Government, local authorities and water companies to ensure that the UK best manages the need for water, while protecting agriculture, horticulture and the environment.

Our role includes providing forecast information to the public; government and the water companies on when, and how much rain, is expected from the next few days to a month ahead. We also maintain observations of how much rainfall there has been and where. This can be compared with our historical database of rainfall, which goes back to 1910, to provide an understanding of the current rainfall situation. The Met Office also provides the UK’s only real-time assessments of rainfall, evaporation and soil moisture for water resource specialists.

Rob Varley, Operations Director at the Met Office, said: “The last two years have been very dry across many parts of England with some areas seeing as little as 60% of their normal rainfall in that time.

“Even sustained rainfall over the next few months would have a limited impact, however we are working with the water industry to make sure they have the best weather forecast information available to help them manage their resources.”

Howard Davidson, Environment Agency South East Regional Director said: “We will continue to work with water companies to meet the challenges of a continued drought.

“The Environment Agency’s role is to balance the water needs of people, businesses and the environment. Using water efficiently will help to ensure we all have enough water for our homes, to produce food, products and services, and to protect our valuable natural environment and wildlife.”

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