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.

 




Monthly Report – March 2019

March 2019 was another month of above average temperatures, with the monthly mean coming in at 7.2 degC, which is about 1.3 degrees above the long term average. The Maximum temperature was 17.1 degC on 29th, with the Minimum at 0.1 degC recorded on the morning of the 8th March.

The rainfall total of 51.7mm fell mainly in the first half of the month, but was still about 20% above normal for March. The wettest day was 16th, with just over half an inch (13mm). This moderate total led to a rapid rise in the River Wear, which must have responded to a heavier fall in the hills. The river rose nearly 6ft on the Saturday in less than 12 hours.The river rose nearly 6ft on the Saturday in less than 12 hours.

The first half of the month was dominated by low pressure, whilst the 2nd half was anticyclonic, resulting in this unequal distribution of rainfall.

Rapid Rise in The River Wear – 16th March 2019

Heavy rain overnight on 16th March resulted in the River Wear rising to 2.36m just after 9pm. This was a rise of 1.8m in less than 12 hours. The river was a raging torrent, lapping over riverside paths. The river also carried lots of broken tree branches and wood downstream, snagging on bridges and the weirs further around ‘the loop’.

My weather station in Gilesgate only recorded 13mm of rain on the 16th, so the rainfall must have been much heavier in the hills that feed the River Wear in the previous day.

The River Wear has been much higher than this in the past, but this episode was remarkable because of the rate of rise.

You can check the river level in Durham at any time by following the link on the Useful Weather Links page here

Click below to see a video from 16th March 2019 as we walked the riverside paths.

Heavy snow in Durham – “The Beast from The East” March 2018

An Easterly outbreak, dubbed “The Beast from The East” by the media, dumped a substantial amount of snow on us at the end of February and early March 2018. When such a weather synoptic occurs, we tend to get plastered in snow here on the North East Coast. Temperatures hover around zero and potent snow showers are readily blown inland, reaching Durham without too much trouble.

Here’s a view across The River Wear from the path just as we emerged from Pelaw Wood. Snow was 8-12” deep in most places, squeaking under our boots as we walked down the track to the river from Silverlink Bridge.

Met Office : Snow and Low temperatures February to March 2018

See the 2nd March report from The Durham Magazine, “Durham Battles to keep moving as the Beast from The East Ravages the County”

90% Solar Eclipse – 20th March 2015

A 90% Partial Solar Eclipse was visible in the North East in March 2015. There was a lot of cloud, but the eclipse could clearly be seen. The peak of the eclipse was around 9:30am. The main noticeable thing was a marked drop in temperature and the birds began to roost, thinking it was dusk.

Here’s a video taken in Spennymoor, from the Durham Telly YouTube channel