Forgive me for saying it, but I found the weather of November 2020 quite boring.
There were no extremes of temperature, no extremely wet days and even the normally strong and boisterous autumn winds had little to say for themselves.
The month began with low pressure in charge, dropping 10.1mm of rain in the first couple of days, but it was mild, and the mildness continued pretty much until the 18th. The actual maximum temperature occurred on the 5th of the month, when 16.7 degC was reached. The minimum came at the end, with the first air frost since Spring. Temps fell to -0.9 degC on the morning of 28th and suddenly things were a lot more seasonal.
The mean temperature for November 2020 was 8.1 degC, which is well above average (6.1). It was 2.3 degrees warmer than November 2019 for example.
The month had gotten itself into a bit of a rut in the first half however. Anticyclonic weather keeps the gales away at this time of year, but the payback is that the weather can often become cloudy and gloomy, and that is exactly what happened.
Although the month was ‘damp’ as usual for November, the rainfall total only amounted to 27.4mm and the 1st was the wettest day.
October opened very wet. A total of 32.7mm of rain was recorded at Gilesgate on 3rd resulted in a rapid rise in the River Wear, overtopping the banks in places, and reaching 2.76m at 8:15am on the 4th. The river level fell back rapidly and had dropped a metre by mid afternoon.
It was the wettest day of 2020 so far and proved to be the wettest day of the month.
The wet theme continued after the deluge on the 3rd (declared the wettest day on record country-wide by the Met Office). There were very wet days recorded on the 8th and 12th-13th (combined total 27.1mm).
The second half of the month was slightly less wet than the first, but there were still only two days without rain in the entire month (one in each half).
There are some errors in the daily rainfall totals shown in the tables below here. This was due to me changing faulty drained batteries in the sensors. The overall correct total of rain for the month was 113.4mm
The individual daily totals in error were 1st (corrected total 1.7mm), 9th (corrected to 0.6mm), 10th (corrected total 7.7mm) and 12th (correct total 11.5mm)
Overall, October was around average for temperature, with no real extremes. The mean for the month was 9.6 degC and extremes were 16.7 degC (20th) and 3.5 degC (2nd). The warmest mean day was 12.8 degC on the 21st and the coldest mean day was 7.5 degC just two days later on the 23rd.
Octobers tend to have the potential for a wide range of barometric pressure as anticyclonic conditions can prevail, but storms are ramping up as the jet stream becomes stronger in Autumn, with a strong zonal influence too.
October 2020 was anticyclonic between 8th-19th (even though some very wet days were recorded) and cyclonic either side. The lowest pressure was 981.7mb recorded during the passage of Storm Alex on 3rd/4th. The highest was 1033.2mb on the 15th.
After a wet day on the 2nd, September weather was quite decent until the 22nd. There was a short heatwave in mid-month when the temperature hit a lovely 26.6 degC. Towards the end of the month the weather turned very Autumnal indeed. Temps plummeted after the deluge on 23rd, and the maximum temperature on 24th was only 10.2 degC. Quite cold for September. In fact I’m told it was one of (bottom 20) the coldest September days since 1900.
This cold spell was due to a depression in the Southern North Sea dragging in North to North Easterly winds from the sea on the North side of the storm. Some wild seas were observed in coastal towns such as Seaham.
The cold spell dragged down the overall monthly mean, which had been running a degree or so above average until then, and it finished at 13.2 degC, which is almost bang on average.
The absolute minimum of 3.9degC was recorded on the morning of the 28th, as winds dropped behind the depression in the cooler northerly influenced airstream.
The total for the month finished around the long term average, but about half of that total came on the 23rd. The daily total of 28.5mm wasn’t exceptional for September, but was in fact the 5th fall of 20mm or more in the calendar year so far. Are these high rainfall total days getting more frequent? They certainly seem to be.
The total rain days of 16 was quite low for Autumn, although when anticyclonic weather dominates it can happen.
The most was identified as strongly anticyclonic, and the few cyclonic days were centred around the strong depression that hit around 23rd-25th. There were some very strong gusty winds around the low, which seemed to peak around 25th.
July 2020 – Disappointingly dull with no real summer weather
July 2020 can best be described as ‘disappointing’. The hottest part of the year never really got going in Durham. It took until the 12th July for the 20 degC mark to be breached for the first time. When it did, it stayed in the lower 20’s. The only day it crossed the 25 degC threshold was on the last day which was phenomenally hot.
At 31.0 degC, the last day made it into the history books as the 3rd warmest day on record Nationally. The temperature rose to 37.8 degC at Heathrow Airport, just falling short of last July’s all time record. It is unusual for such a hot day to stand in isolation. Normally hot days develop as heat builds over a period of time, each day hotter than the last. Not this one. The max for the 30th was only 19.9 degC and the following day, August 1st only got to 22.3 degC. This day stands out like a sore thumb in the record. If I didn’t know any better I’d suspect it as an error, but it wasn’t, it was just stinking hot.
Photos from the hottest day of July 2020
The rainfall total wasn’t anything to write home about either. Rain on 20 days meant that the longest dry spell was only 3 days, between the 19th and 21st. The wettest day of July 2020 was 23rd. The total of 13.9mm wasn’t exceptionally high, but the overall feeling was of a month that never really dried out. There was an outbreak of thundery rain on the 31st as the hot weather departed. The total of 62mm was pretty average for July.
Although I don’t record sunshine totals at Gilesgate, my feeling was of lack of sunshine. Several days were just cloudy and overcast, when normally we’d expect the sun to break through the cloud at some point in the day. I think sunshine totals from elsewhere will confirm my feelings on this.
Atmospheric Pressure was mainly anticyclonic, as we’d hope for in July, but always seemed to be in the ‘wrong’ place for us, resulting in a predominance of winds from the SW-NW quarter. Quite strong winds at times too, with gustiness a feature. That’s not what we really want or need in July is it?
Overall, June was warmer than average, but there was a very cool wet spell in the first half of the month. The mean max was +1.1 degC above normal and the mean min +2.0 degC above.
Between the 3rd and 12th, the maximum temperature was only 16.1 degC (9th) and fell to as low as 5.5 degC on the morning that same day. A very cold day for June. It was also wet (see below).
Temperatures recovered strongly after the 14th, peaking on the 24th at 29.7 degC. In some areas of the country it was the warmest for that date, beating the record set in 1976. From the 23rd to the 26th it averaged over 20 degC in Durham. Very sticky sleeping conditions.
The second half of the month was very warm and pleasant.
After a very dry spring, June returned to the type of previous years, particularly in the first half.
83.1mm fell in the cool spell between 3rd and 13th. This made up most of the monthly total of 100.9mm. That’s getting on for double the normal for June. There were 19 days with rain overall during the month.
The wettest day was the 12th with 29.2mm, but the previous day was also wet with 17.0mm, giving a 48hr total of 46.2mm. Most of that total seemed to be absorbed by the very dry ground – the river didn’t rise much at all.
The month was mainly anticyclonic again, but there were some very stormy high winds in the cool spell in the first half and at the very end of the month too.
May 2020 continued the Spring theme in that it was very dry overall, after the first few days, but they yielded some heavy hail showers on May 3rd. This picture was taken in Darlington, about 18 miles to the south of Durham. The weather soon calmed down though and the overwhelming feature was the anticyclone close to the UK, almost all the way through the month after the first couple of days.
Sunny as well – according to The Met Office. Sunshine records were broken across the country in Spring 2020. Could this be due to the drop in air pollution during Coronavirus lockdown? I don’t know, but the weather has been beautiful. Here’s a little graphic showing the stats in a nutshell.
I don’t record sunshine totals at Durham because of the restrictions around my location (buildings obstructing the site), but it seems conditions were more or less the same all over the country. However, the long term figures for Durham University indicate that 447.4hrs of sunshine is normal for Durham.
Here’s a link to the Met Office for more detailed info.
The temperature in May 2020 was well above normal. The long term means for Durham are Max 15.0 degC and Min 6.1 degC. Here are the daily records. The mean maximum came in at 18.2 degC, which is 3.2 degC above average. The average minimum was also 2.0 degC above average.
The thermometer passed the 25 degC mark on 3 days (20th, 28th and 29th) and was also over 20 degC on a further 7 days. The absolute maximum was 27.2 degC on the 29th. The chilly nights of the 2nd week resulted in the minima of 1.9 degC early on the morning of the 13th.
Rainfall in May 2020
May 2020 was very dry, with only 18.8 mm recorded. This came after the very low total for April 2020. This made the total rainfall for Spring a meagre 44.6 mm. The mean rainfall for Spring in Durham is 141.5 mm, so a 68.5% deficit.
Atmospheric Pressure in May 2020
The mean pressure for the month was 1025.1 mb, which is incredibly high for a monthly average. 28 of the month’s days could be classified as Anticyclonic, with only the 1st, 2nd and 22nd dropped into cyclonic territory. This probably explained the low rainfall totals.
The high pressure wasn’t always in the right place for optimum warmth, at times dragging in a cold breeze from the North Sea, most notably in the second week.
Summary for May 2020
Another exceptional month. The extreme dryness came after a very prolonged wet spell spanning the second half of 2019 up until February 2020. Because of this, the water table was already exceptionally high at the start of the year and no difficulties should really be had over the summer months.
It remains to be seen whether the balmy conditions continue into June 2020, but the early signs don’t look too good, with northerly winds and rain forecast in the early part of the month.
April 2020 was an extraordinary month in more senses than just Weather.
By now, you’ve probably noticed that we’re still in lockdown. The confusion of the second half of March continued into the first part of April, but I got the feeling that people were gradually getting used to it. The weather had also been tempting to those who were desperate to be outside.
Although I don’t record it at Durham, the Met Office have said that April 2020 was exceptionally sunny. This was apparent to me because we’d spent a good deal of time out in the garden whilst coffee shops, pubs and restaurants were out of bounds to us.
It was also a very mild month. In fact, the mean maximum temperature was way above what I would expect for April. The normal for Durham is 11.9 degC. In April 2020, the mean maximum was 14.8 degC (+2.9). The mean minimum was also well above normal at 5.5 degC, which is +1.8 degC above average. It reached 20 degC on 3 days – the 8th, 11th and 15th. So the second week was undoubtedly the best, although the 13th was a notably cold day as the High Pressure brought cold winds off the North Sea. The maximum was only 7.3 degC. There was also an air frost the following night, the only instance in the month.
As well as the previously mentioned warmth, April was phenomenally dry. There was only 3.9mm of rain recorded for the whole month. That is probably in the top 10 of driest Aprils at Durham (I await the report from the official Durham University station as this will give the definitive narrative).
Update : Only 1938 (2.2 mm) and 1912 (2.4 mm) have seen drier Aprils since 1850. Only four years have seen fewer rain days in April: 3 in 1912 and 4 in 1938, 1974 and 2011.
The cause of the good weather? Undoubtedly High Pressure systems which seemed to be in and around the UK for most of the month. If we define the High/Low borderline for Air Pressure at 1013mb, then April had 26 Anticyclonic days, compared with just 4 cyclonic ones (all at the very end of the month). The High Pressure did tend to wander though, and subtle changes in position made big differences to the weather we experienced.
March 2020 came in like a lion, with strong winds continuing to batter the country due to the proximity of low pressure systems. This was pretty much the theme of the winter, but at least the extreme wetness and flooding that we experienced in February abated.
The month actually ended up being very dry when compared to the March average. Only 21.9mm of rain was recorded, the majority of which fell in the second week. The wettest day was the 11th; 7.1mm fell. By the end of the month the soggy ground had managed to dry out nicely from the previous month’s waterlogged state. There were 13 dry days, which is OK for March.
Temperatures were unremarkable for March, but did peak out at 18.1 degC on the 25th (the one standout day). The mean maximum was 10.3 degC and the overnight minima were still on the chilly side, with 3 air frosts recorded on the 5th, 6th and 20th. The mean minimum was 2.8 degC and the absolute minimum was -1.9 degC on the 6th.
The lowest atmospheric pressure was recorded on 1st of the month. This was in the wake of Storm Jorge. 973.4mb was a very low value, but not unprecedented. There was a strong rise in pressure from mid-month, reaching 1049.9mb on the 29th, the second month this year we’ve come close to 1050mb (January was the other). The High Pressure was mainly in the wrong place for extreme mildness though, and cold blustery Northerlies were a feature of the last few days, with dew points remaining around freezing.
Although it came in like a lion, March left us in a shellshocked state as a National lockdown due to Coronavirus COVID-19 confined people to their homes. This is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, so it is hoped the later Spring months will at least allow us all to enjoy some time in our gardens as the days grow longer and warmer.
There was a very wild start to February, although it was relatively mild.
Storm Ciara over the weekend of 8th/9th brought damaging gusts and flooding. The worst of it passed to the South of us, but there was major flooding in Yorkshire and winds gusted to 93mph in Wales.
The River Wear rose dramatically during the morning of Sunday 9th to peak at 3.05m late on the evening, flooding riverside paths.
Wintry showers on 10th-12th. Snowfall for the Midlands, Scotland and Pennines 15-20cm on high ground. Severe drifting on high ground.
The next storm (Storm Dennis) arrived on 15th/16th and was similar to Ciara. The river in Durham peaked at around the 3m mark again and the wind was very strong from the West. It stayed above 3m for many hours this time, with riverside flooding again causing problems. Nationally, once again, the south of the country was hit hard, particularly South Wales.
Some snow arrived in Durham late in the month on the 24th, but it lasted less than a day. From waking to a 2” covering on the morning, it had all gone by mid-afternoon. That was it for snow really.
The third and last big storm of the month (all at weekends!) was Jorge, named by the Spanish Met Office, which duly arrived on the 29th (Leap Year this year).
People around the Ironbridge area in Shropshire were in a desperate situation with flooding on the River Severn. There was also extensive flooding in Yorkshire around the Doncaster area.
The mean temperature for February was 5.4 degC, measured by the traditional method of max+min/2 method. The highest absolute maximum was 10.5 degC during the passing of Storm Ciara on 8th/9th. There were no air frosts at all recorded during the month.
The 9th was also the wettest day with 23.0mm of rain recorded. We also had yet another monthly total over 70mm in the last 12 months (this was the 7th time). The final total was 88.4mm.
On the last day of February, the barometer fell to 970.9mb during the passing of Storm Jorge (named by the Spanish Met Office). Heavy snow fell on the Pennines and there was a report in the Northern Echo about people being rescued from their cars in the Upper Teesdale area. Nothing in Durham City though.
There were only 5 days in February that could be described as anticyclonic. Four of these were in the first week.
Once again I have poor weather to report for this month. Particularly, high rainfall totals again and an incredible dullness that depressed. I know that November is sometimes a cheerless month, but this one has been really rubbish. The weather has also been cold, with depressed maxima by day, although not too cold at night until the last few days.
I have had a bad cold for most of November and I blame it almost completely on the rank weather November has served up for us all.
No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
by Thomas Hood
The month was very wet. The total of 129.1mm was just behind the June total for wettest month of 2019. There were 26 days with rain and 6 days had more than 10mm.
The rain put a big damper on the Durham Lumiére Festival with 5.6, 9.5, 13.7 and 2.2mm falling on the four days from 14th-17th.
The total rainfall represents about 200% of what an average November would bring.
Because of all the rain and dullness, November maxima were depressed (like me). The average maximum was 7.5 degC, which is around 2 degC below average. Average minima were around normal at 3.7 degC.
The warmest day of the month was right at the start of the month when a modest 11.3 degC was recorded on the 2nd. The temperature remained below 10 degC from the 4th, and November’s minimum temperature was recorded on the last day, which was very frosty early on. The air temperature was -2.4 degC at 8am.
Some pics from Seaham 27th Nov 2019 (photos courtesy of Paul Levitt)