May 2020 Report – Warm, Dry and Sunny Again

Picture by Mark Pritchard

The Weather in Durham in May 2020.

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.

May 2020 becomes the sunniest calendar month on record

Temperature in May 2020

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 Monthly Weather Report – Very Warm and Dry

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.

See some photographs from lockdown in Durham

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.

 

Incredible Red Sunset in Durham April 26th 2020

Just had this photo sent of the incredible sunset of 26th April. The sun was setting under a shallow cloud cover and it produced this red sunset and double rainbow. The cloud produced the first measurable rain for 2 weeks, in what looks destined to be one of the driest Aprils on record in Durham.

The driest April was in 1938. This month only received 2mm of rainfall.

Incredible Red Sunset in Durham April 26th 2020
Incredible Red Sunset in Durham April 26th 2020
Double Rainbow April 26th 2020
Double Rainbow April 26th 2020

A Walk around the Riverside during lockdown

We’re all locked up at home with Coronavirus, but they let us out to get exercise, so we took the opportunity to go for a stroll in the sunshine.

Many paths to take to the River Wear
Many paths to take to the River Wear
Durham Cathedral through the trees
Durham Cathedral through the trees
The Rowing Club from across the River Wear
The Rowing Club from across the River Wear
Tree Bark with moss
Tree Bark with moss
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens (2)
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens (2)
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (4)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (4)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (3)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (3)
Durham in Tiles - Old Durham Garden
Durham in Tiles – Old Durham Garden
Old Durham Gardens from the path
Old Durham Gardens from the path
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (2)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (2)
Durham Cathedral through a gap in the hedge
Durham Cathedral through a gap in the hedge
Old Durham Gardens from the Terrace
Old Durham Gardens from the Terrace
Parched Earth in April 2020
Parched Earth in April 2020

March 2020 Report – A strange month indeed!

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.

 




May 2019 Monthly Report – Not really settled yet

May 2019 Summary

May opened disappointingly cool, with the preponderence of winds from an Northerly and Easterly sector, the direction no-one wants at this time of the year. There was no real warmth until the 13th and then only for three days! Temperatures did recover a bit in the second half, to give an overall mean of 10.9 degC, which is still on the cool side for May.

The rainfall total was also on the low side for May, continuing the rather dry Spring. Rain was well spread, with only two short dry periods. The wettest day was the 8th, with 12.2mm. Some areas of the North East had very heavy thundery showers towards the end of the month, with reports of a funnel cloud from the Bishop Auckland area on 28th.

There was more anticyclonic influence in May than low pressure, but it was just drifting about in the wrong place to offer much of an early taste of summer. Ah well, let’s see what June brings.

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