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

April 2019 Monthly Report – Still a deficit of rainfall

April began quite cold, with some snow over high ground and even to lower levels in Durham. None of it lay on the ground, but the strong north westerly and northerly winds made it feel unseasonably cold. It gradually began to warm up by day, but cold at night before mid month.

It was quite wet in the first week, with 21.4mm falling in the period 2nd-4th, but then the weather turned dry and nothing was recorded at all in the period from the 8th to the 24th.

The weather peaked over the Easter weekend, with sunny fine conditions and real Spring warmth. Saturday 20th was the warmest, with 24.1 degC recorded. This was almost equalled on Palm Sunday (21st), with 23.6 degC. Unusually, conditions close to the coast also remained warm. By the following week, low pressure was in charge again and temperatures dropped back to normal for late April.

Overall, the mean temperature was marginally above average, but rainfall was way below normal, with only around 60% of normal long term April rain recorded. Only 7 days had measurable rainfall, with 2nd and 3rd responsible for half the eventual monthly total.

Spring from Pelaw Wood, April 2017

A beautiful day in mid-Spring, 2017. The view is from Pelaw Woods across the River Wear to the cricket and rugby club grounds.

The pathway at the bottom of the photograph is still being repaired after a landslip during wet weather in 2013 caused the hillside to collapse. The repair work has taken several years to complete. More details of the work is detailed below.

Friends of Pelaw Wood Website

April 2007 – Warmest April by far

April 2007
Yet another record breaker, April 2007 was a whopping 0.6 degC warmer than the previous warmest April (1865) on the Central England Temperature series. Again, a long term record beaten. Also noteable is the fact that 2006 was the warmest year on record and the first third of this year is more than 2 degC warmer than the equivalent period in 2006. Quite incredible.

The Ferryhill record for April 2007