Thunderstorms bring intense rainfall to parts of England

28 07 2014

This morning has seen some intense downpours across parts of south east England.

They developed across parts of East Anglia in the early hours of the morning, with further areas of heavy showers across Sussex, Surrey, Kent and the south of London following later.

The showers were very heavy in places with thunderstorms, hail, and torrential rain reported, giving high rainfall totals and localised flooding in some areas.

The high rainfall totals were caused by an area of low pressure and a plume of warm air that moved in from the near continent accompanied by light winds, meaning that the showers were slow moving.

Several spots have seen more than half of their average monthly rainfall for the whole of July in just one hour.

Below you can see some of the highest recorded hourly rainfall totals from Environment Agency rain gauges through the morning of Monday 28th July 2014:

Great Dunmow Essex 43 mm (4am to 5am)
Isfield Sussex 37 mm (8.30am to 9:30am)
Ardingly Sussex 35 mm (8.30am to 9:30am)
Santon Downham Suffolk 33mm (3am to 4am)
Weirwood Sussex 28 mm (9am to 10am)
Northolt London 20mm (7am to 8am)

 

The band of showery rain is now easing, but a yellow warning for rainfall remains in place for the south east of the UK as the risk of seeing some further isolated downpours remains.

In addition, the far south east of England could see further persistent and perhaps locally heavy rain later today and overnight, with parts of Kent and Sussex most at risk. Conditions across all areas should then improve through tomorrow.





First half of July is… average?

18 07 2014

With the recent run of generally fine, dry and warm weather you’d be forgiven for thinking this July so far would be anything but average – but the statistics tell a different story.

The UK mean temperature for 1-16 of the month is 15C, just 0.1C above average. UK rainfall is perhaps surprisingly close to the average too, with 36.3mm of rain making up 46% of the whole-month average – we’d expect to see about 52% of the average by now.

Sunshine is the only measure which is notably above average, with 111.4 hours for the UK which is about 65% of the whole-month average (again, we’d expect about 52% at this point in the month).

These figures might not fit in with how many have perceived this month so far, which has seen a good deal of dry and fine weather.

One possible reason for this is that UK day-time maximum temperatures have been slightly higher than average (19.7C), while the night-time minimums have been slightly lower than average (10.4C). So we’ve experienced warmer days, and cooler nights, which adds up to a very average mean temperature (which includes day and night-time temperatures).

Another reason for the statistics bucking the expectation is because, with the exception of last year, the preceding few summers have been generally a little disappointing.

While last year’s July was drier than average, five out of the six previous to that were wetter than average and three were cooler than average.

So perhaps we feel that the recent fine and dry weather is more unusual than it really is because of recent history.

Obviously it’s far too early to judge how this July will finish overall, with half of the month still to add in to the statistics.

You can explore all kinds of climate information, including monthly summaries back to 2001, and climate data back to 1910, on our climate pages.

  Mean temperature Sunshine Rainfall
1 - 16 July 2014 ** Actual Diff from 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 15.0 0.1 111.4 65 36.3 46
England 16.3 0.2 120.2 62 29.0 46
Wales 14.7 -0.3 110.6 62 29.5 32
Scotland 13.1 0.0 101.1 72 50.0 50
N Ireland 14.5 0.1 88.1 63 36.7 45

** Please note these are half month statistics from 1-16 July. The final figures will change once statistics from the second half of the month are included.





With hot and humid weather could we see a ‘Spanish Plume’?

15 07 2014

Over the next few days increasingly warm and humid air moving up from the continent will see UK temperatures on the rise, with the warmest days of the year so far expected.

Temperatures in the south east of the country could climb to the low 30s Celsius by Friday, while other parts of England and Wales are likely to see temperatures in the mid to high 20s.

These very warm conditions will be accompanied by a close and humid feel in the air, which could make it feel quite uncomfortably warm in places – particularly during the nights.

While there is a good deal of dry and fine weather in the next few days, there is also the chance of seeing some heavy rain and thunderstorms as we go into the weekend.

Friday may see an area of thundery showers moving north east across parts of England and Wales.

Our meteorologists are also keeping a very close eye on the potential for more widespread thundery downpours on Saturday.

These could develop from what meteorologists call a ‘Spanish Plume’, which is a catchy name for a rather complex set of conditions.

It involves very warm and humid air moving up from the Spanish plateau to the UK. If this meets cooler air from the Atlantic, the warm air can be forced rapidly upwards to produce thunderstorms.

There are a number of ingredients that all have to come in to place for this to happen, however, so the risk of disruption from any heavy, thundery downpours is low for Saturday at the moment rather than a certainty. A yellow alert has been issued for this risk and will be updated in the coming days.

You can keep up to date with how this situation develops by checking our forecasts and warnings over the next few days.

Interestingly, the warm weather we’re expecting can be traced back to the jet stream, a narrow band of fast moving winds high up in the atmosphere which forms where cooler air from the polar region meets warmer air from the tropics.

The jet stream has dipped south over north eastern parts of the US, allowing cooler air to flood in over the area and bringing much lower temperatures than usual for this time of year.

New chart v1

Top image shows forecast jet stream at 1am Wednesday, with an obvious kink over the NE of the US. The bottom forecast image, for 1am on Saturday, shows a kink now over Spain, with warm air from that region flowing towards the UK.

This kink in the jet stream causes a knock-on effect which pushes the cooler air south across the Atlantic, which in turn pushes the warm humid air over the continent (around Spain) towards the UK later this week.

This provides yet further proof of the way in which all weather is connected, but there are no hard and fast rules as to how events in one part of the world will affect us here in the UK.





Early figures suggest one of the warmest Junes on record

27 06 2014

Early statistics from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre show that this has been one of the warmest Junes in records dating back to 1910.

Based on figures up until 25 June the mean temperature for the UK for the month is 14.4 °C, making it joint 6th at the moment and more than likely one of the top ten warmest once final figures are in. The warmest June on record is 1976 with 15 °C.

This continues a run of seven months where the UK mean temperature was warmer than average, with all the months from December through to April each being at least 1 °C warmer than the long-term average.

Looking at specific countries it is currently the second warmest June on record in Scotland with 13.2 °C – the warmest being 1940 with 13.5 °C. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland it’s currently the 9th warmest.

Rainfall totals have been below normal as a whole and sunshine totals have been near normal, brightest over south-west England and Wales but duller over Scotland.

  Mean temperature Sunshine Rainfall
1 – 25 June 2014 ** Actual Diff from 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 14.4 1.4 161.1 95 45.9 63
England 15.2 1.2 184.3 101 33.0 53
Wales 14.2 1.0 203.1 117 43.9 51
Scotland 13.2 1.9 113.6 76 67.0 75
N Ireland 14.0 1.2 146.8 98 50.5 66

** Please note these are preliminary statistics from 1-25 June. The final figures will change once statistics from the final few days of the month are included.





Early figures suggest third warmest spring on record

30 05 2014

Early statistics from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre show that this has been one of the warmest springs in records dating back to 1910.

Based on figures up until 28 May and then assuming average conditions to the end of the month, the mean temperature for the UK for the season is 8.97 °C, third warmest in the records (beaten by 2007 with 9.05 °C and 2011 with 9.15 °C).

Looking at specific countries, it is currently the third warmest spring for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, it has been particularly warm in Scotland compared to average. Depending on temperatures in the final three days of May, this spring could be Scotland’s warmest since records began with a current mean temperature of 7.63 °C, just above the record set in 2011 of 7.61 °C.

Each of the three months of spring have seen above average temperatures. The figures for May up to the 28th of the month show it has been 0.8 °C above the long-term average for the UK.

This continues a run of six months where the UK mean temperature was warmer than average, with all the months from December through to April each being at least 1 °C warmer than the long-term average.

Apart from the above average temperatures, statistics for May otherwise show it has been duller and wetter than average so far.

Sunshine is down compared to the long-term average, with the UK having seen 141.8 hours which is 76% of what we would normally expect.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have seen particularly low levels of sun – Scotland has seen 103.8 hours which is 58% of the average, and Northern Ireland has seen just 51% of its average with 92.9 hours.

Rainfall statistics for May show that it has been a wet month so far, with the UK having seen 97.7mm of rain which is 140% of the long-term average.

When it comes to rainfall for spring overall, it has been only slightly wetter than average. The figures show that spring is about 7% wetter than the long-term average.

Northern Ireland actually had a slightly drier spring, with only 91.8% of the average rainfall.

 

Mean Temperature Rainfall
Spring* Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg
degC degC mm %
UK 8.97 1.23 255.1 107
England 9.76 1.24 201 111
Wales 9.04 1.03 295.5 101
Scotland 7.63 1.3 339.8 107
N Ireland 9 1.12 222.7 92

*Please note these are projected numbers that include statistics from 1 March to 28 May, then assume average conditions for the final few days of the season. They may not accurately represent the final full-season figures.

 

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
May** Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 11.1 0.8 141.8 76 97.7 140
England 12 0.8 170.6 90 91.1 156
Wales 11.1 0.5 138 74 124.2 145
Scotland 9.7 0.9 103.8 58 102.9 122
N Ireland 11.2 1 92.9 51 90.1 124

** Please note these are preliminary statistics from 1-28 May. The final figures will change once statistics from the final few days of the month are included.





Rain over the Bank Holiday Weekend, with more to come

27 05 2014

The Bank Holiday weekend saw a good deal of dry and bright weather in places, but there was also heavy rainfall in some spots over the three days with some significant rainfall totals.

Much of England and Wales had a wet Saturday as rain pushed northwestwards with heavy, and thundery showers following.

Sunday brought heavy showery rain to western and northern parts of the UK, with 25 mm of rain falling in three hours around the Edinburgh area.

Heavy rain pushed in from the southeast on Bank Holiday Monday, whilst to the west and north of this there was some sunny weather, but also heavy and thundery showers for Cornwall, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Here are the highest UK rainfall totals for each of the three days of the Bank Holiday:

 

Rainfall totals from 0900 Saturday 24 May – 0900 Sunday 25 May
Site Area Amount (mm)
Liscombe Somerset 32.2
Usk Monmouthshire 29.0
Tredegar Gwent 23.4
Okehampton Devon 22.5
Waddington Lincolnshire 22.0
Sheffield South Yorkshire 22.0

 

Rainfall totals from 0900 Sunday 25 May – 0900 Monday 26 May
Site Area Amount (mm)
Edinburgh, Gogarbank Midlothian 26.2
Cardinham Cornwall 17.8
Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Garden Midlothian 17.4
Tyndrum Perthshire 17.2
Camborne Cornwall 14.2

 

Rainfall totals from 0900 Monday 26 May – 0900 Tuesday 27 May
Site Area Amount (mm)
Wattisham Suffolk 31.2
Brooms Barn Suffolk 25.4
Cavendish Suffolk 21.8
Charsfield Suffolk 19.2
Cambridge Cambridgeshire 17.0

 

Looking ahead through the rest of this week there is more rain to come, particularly for eastern and northeastern England, while Scotland (especially the north) has the best of the warm, sunny weather.

Suffolk has already seen heavy rainfall through Tuesday morning with over 30 mm of rainfall at Wattisham through the first 9 hours of the day.

This is going to push northwards through Tuesday into Norfolk and Lincolnshire. A Met Office yellow warning has been issued to warn of rainfall amounts reaching around 30mm in some spots which could lead to some localised flooding.

There are also going to be some heavy showers over southern parts of Wales and parts of the West Country.

Wednesday will again be wet for many, especially around northeast England with parts of Yorkshire at risk of over 30 mm, for which another yellow rainfall warning has been issued. With strengthening winds this will make it feel quite unpleasant at times.

More showers or longer spells of rain are expected for Thursday, before things should turn generally drier, brighter and warmer by the weekend.





May Bank Holiday – Fine and dry for most

29 04 2014

Despite some reports, Met Office forecasters are expecting pleasant weather for many over the Bank Holiday weekend, with a good deal of dry weather, rising daytime temperatures and some spells of strong sunshine at times.

Although air of polar origin moving southwards will cause much colder nights on Thursday and Friday this week, bringing air frost to some northern parts, daytime temperatures are set to recover quickly and most parts of the UK will begin to feel pleasantly warm in the sunshine this weekend.

After a chilly start on both Saturday and Sunday, many places will see dry conditions with clear and sunny periods. The best of the sunshine will be in southern and eastern areas. Some northern and western parts may be cloudier with outbreaks of rain and drizzle. However, where conditions are brighter on Sunday and Monday temperatures should be above average making it feel pleasantly warm.

Although it is too early to be certain, indications are that many parts of the country will have a fine and warm Bank Holiday Monday.

Check our local 5-day forecast for the weather forecast in your area.





Met Office weatherman in Camp Bastion

22 04 2014

Met Office meteorologist Simon King has just returned from Afghanistan where he has been part of a crack team forecasting the weather for our Armed Forces. He has been working with the Met Office’s Mobile Met Unit (MMU) which gives advice on the potential impact of weather on armed operations.

Simon King, MMU, Camp Bastion

Simon King, MMU, Camp Bastion

Simon has been a Met Office meteorologist for eight years and is also an Officer in the Royal Air Force Reserve having completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a war zone weather can have a major influence on military operations and during his most recent tour in Afghanistan, Simon says his forecasts helped “forewarn of a major thunderstorm which turned the ‘normal’ dirt and sand into very unpleasant muddy conditions and enabled the military to take appropriate action mitigating any major impacts to their operations.”
The MMU is a sponsored RAF reserve unit made up of around 50 Met Office volunteers who have undergone military as well as meteorological training. They help the UK’s Armed Forces and allies understand the impact of weather on military activities and can help keep troops safe.

Simon explains: “Work at the Met Office in Camp Bastion is intense, with four members of staff providing 24/7 cover doing both observations and forecasts. While the weather and forecasting is a challenge, we are also working in a hostile environment with numerous threats.”

On his most recent tour temperatures were much cooler than the average and perhaps not quite as warm as people might think for a desert. While Simon was there temperatures were around 5/6 °C or lower at night with maximum temperatures around 16-20 °C, occasionally reaching 25 °C.

In addition to his work for the military Simon King also presented the weather on 5Live Breakfast one morning live from Afghanistan. He says “as I had access to the same meteorological information in Camp Bastion as I would at my desk in the UK, it wasn’t an issue to put together a UK forecast. In fact, as Afghanistan is four and a half hours ahead of the UK, it did mean there was no 4.15am alarm call and the first broadcast was at 11am!”

As well as working in Afghanistan MMU advisors work closely with our armed forces involved in other operations and exercises in the UK and overseas. A reliable and efficient delivery system, managed by a team of dedicated MMU Engineers, ensures our advisors have access to the most up-to-date weather information, when ever and where ever they need it. This includes outputs from our high-resolution forecasting models and support from many other Met Office teams such as IT, Science, Observations, and Operations.





Celebrating World Meteorological Day

18 03 2014

Every year on the 23rd March meteorological services around the world celebrate World Meteorological Day to mark the creation of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950.  This year’s World Meteorological Day theme is ‘Weather and climate: engaging youth’.

World Meteorological Day 2014WMO is engaging with young people through a variety of ways, including:

  • A new and revamped “Youth corner” website providing fun information like ‘how to make a tornado in a jar’ or ‘creating a portable cloud’.

The Met Office is continually looking at ways to get young people engaged in the fascinating world of weather and climate. Here are some of the things we’re doing:

Inspiring the next generation with EDF Energy

This Met Office and EDF Energy collaboration is part of a wider partnership programme to help explain our science and extend science reach into new audiences.

In 2011, the Met Office began collaborating with EDF Energy to help educate school children about weather and climate science. It’s our aim to ensure that all children using EDF Energy’s The Pod have a good understanding of the science underpinning the other sustainability topics they study.

The Pod has a wide reach among teachers and children across the UK. There are now more than 17,000 schools registered and over 10 million children engaged with the Pod since it began in 2008.

Teachers can download hands-on activities designed by the Met Office, which help young people engage and develop their understanding of weather and climate topics. These activities include the ‘Degrees of change’ which addresses historic temperature records and natural variability and ‘Carbon Cycle Capers’, an activity that teaches children about carbon sinks and sources.

STEM Ambassadors at the Met Office

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is at the heart of the Met Office. Without continued expertise in these fields, we would not be able to maintain its position as the United Kingdom’s national weather service and a leading centre for climate research. We need to attract the brightest people and enable our employees to develop their professional skills during their careers.

One way to fulfil these aims, is to engage in STEM outreach and we have seen our STEM Ambassador team grow from 10 four years ago to more than 120 active ambassadors across the UK today. The STEM outreach programme is embedded into Met Office culture, bringing benefits to both the Met Office and its wider communities.

The work of our STEM Ambassadors varies hugely – from visits to local schools to talk about science or careers to running climate science workshops to weather balloon launches and code clubs. Ambassadors also take part in national events such as The Big Bang and work with other organisations engaged in STEM outreach.

Met Office Science Camp

In the summer of 2013, the Met Office ran a series of pilot events, providing an educational science night for young people aged 11–12 at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter.

These Met Office Science Camps have proved to be a great success. Over four events, 176 children from local schools and scout/guide groups got hands-on with STEM at the Met Office. They camped overnight in onsite conference rooms, helped along by a team of over 100 staff volunteers who represented almost every area of the Met Office’s work.

The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive; saying they would recommend Met Office Science Camps to a friend. The feedback from staff was equally positive, saying that they would recommend volunteering to colleagues and would take part and help organise future events again.

Building on the success of Met Office Science Camp 2013 we will run four events over the summer of 2014, endeavouring to make each one bigger, louder and more fun.

Interested in a career in science?

To mark World Meteorological Day, The Royal Meteorological Society is working with the Met Office, the University of Reading, the Institute of Physics and local schools, to run a Twitter session on careers in science.

They will be answering questions on the physics of the environment and meteorology. There are some great interviewees taking part including Prof Iain Stewart, scientist and broadcaster; Prof Marshall Shepherd Director, Atmospheric Sciences Program, University of Georgia and ex President of the American Meteorological Society and academics from various universities. From industry we have experts; including Dominic Sindall, Head Catastrophe Risk Analyst at Faber Global Ltd and others. The Abbey School, Reading will also be taking part.

You can join the Twitter conversation between 2pm and 4pm on Thursday 20 March. To join in, follow @rmets and use #sciencecareers. More information on how to take part can be found here.





UK’s exceptional weather in context

6 02 2014

As the UK’s run of exceptionally wet and stormy weather continues, the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre has looked at how the last two months compare in the historical records.

Here’s some facts and figures for the weather we’ve seen through December and January:

For the UK

  • For the UK, December was provisionally the equal-fifth wettest December in the national series dating back to 1910 and January was the third wettest January in the same record. When the two months are combined, it is provisionally the wettest December and January in the series.
  • There were more days of rain (any day with more than 1mm of rainfall) for the UK in January than for any other month in a series dating back to 1961, with 23 days.
  • It was the windiest December for the UK in records back to 1969, based on the occurrence of winds in excess 60 kts (69mph).

England and Wales

  • Looking at the England and Wales Precipitation series, which dates back to 1766, it has been the wettest December to January since 1876/1877 and the 2nd wettest overall in the series.

Scotland

  • December was the wettest calendar month on record for Scotland in the series to 1910.
  • For eastern Scotland, December and January combined was provisionally the wettest two month (any-month) period in the same series.

Southern England

  • There have been very few dry days in this area since 12 December and regional statistics suggest that this is one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years.
  • Despite the rainfall being concentrated in the second half of the month it was the wettest December for south east England since 1959.
  • January was the wettest January for the south England region in the national series dating back to 1910, and the wettest calendar month for the south east region in the same series by a huge margin.
  • The two-month total of 372.2mm for the southeast and central southern England region is the wettest any 2-month period in the series from 1910 .
  • From 12th December to 31st January parts of south England recorded over five months worth of rainfall (based on average January rainfall for the region).

You can see more statistics on recent weather and through the historical records on our UK climate pages.

Full month provisional statistics from January 2014:

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
January
Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 4.8 1.1 44.8 95 183.8 151
England 5.4 1.3 57.3 106 158.2 191
Wales 5.3 1.2 38.0 78 269.0 171
Scotland 3.5 0.9 27.2 76 205.3 116
N Ireland 4.5 0.3 37.3 84 170.7 147







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