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June 2019 – Wet first half, then recovering later

I don’t think I would be being too harsh on Summer 2019 if I said I thought it was slow getting started. After the first half of June, the prospects of summer were looking dire. There had already been over 100mm of rain by the time we’d reached the half way point. There had already been 5 days with more than 10mm of rain each (4th,7th,8th,12th and 13th). The long term average rainfall for the whole of June in Durham is 55mm. The Durham Regatta had to be cancelled on the first weekend due to the River Wear being swollen and dangerous.

As well as the deluge of rain (not as bad as other places in England), it only got above the magical 20 degC mark (a nice warm day) on two days. The signs weren’t good.

Met Office : Wet Weather in Early June 2019

Then, in the second half, the heavy rains stopped and summer suddenly arrived. The winds lost their northerly bite, the sun came out a bit more and the soggy mess that opened the summer was a distant memory. Temps hit 20 degC on 7 days in the second half, with a belting 28.4 degC on the 29th. Meanwhile, Europe was basking in record temperatures. Southern France recorded 45.9 degC on 28th June, which smashed the record for June by more than 4 degrees (these records are only meant to be broken 0.1 or 0.2 at a time) and it turned out to be the warmest day ever recorded in France in any month. Germany too broke it’s national temperature record a day later.

The month ended up being slightly warmer than the long term average for June, with a mean of 13.8 degC. The rainfall total is just shy of 130mm, which puts it in the top 4 wettest Junes in Durham since 1880. Notably wetter were June 1980, 1997 and it was comparable with 2012.


Noctilucent Cloud Display over NE England June 2019

noctilucent clouds over durham city Noctilucent Clouds over Durham City, June 17th/18th 2019 by Mike Ridley Photography

Some of you eagle-eyed skywatchers will have noticed a ghostly glow in the sky on the way back from the pub in recent days. Was it real? Was it just an illusion caused by too much Gin? No, what you saw was real and is called ‘Noctilucence’. It is a spectacular display of very high clouds.

Noctilucence is exhibited by clouds that shine at night (Noctilucent means ‘night shining’ in Latin). Noctilucent Clouds exist in the upper atmosphere (Mesosphere), at a height of around 50 miles. They are composed of ice crystals and can only be seen in astronomical twilight. That means they are best seen in the summer months, but they are too faint to be seen in daylight. They require moisture, dust and very cold temperatures (less than -120 degC) to form. The Mesosphere is at it’s coldest in the summer months, so favours their formation.

The clouds shine on summer nights when the sun is below the horizon at ground level, whilst up at 50 miles the noctilucent clouds are still in the sunlight. The whispy clouds seem to glow in this ghostly manner. They are a comparatively recent discovery and are not fully understood, but they seem to be occurring more often and with increasing brightness.

There have been some fantastic photos posted on the internet in the last week or so, but the best I have seen relevant to us is from Mike Ridley who took this superb composite photo over Durham City from Whinney Hill on 17th/18th June 2019.

Here’s Mike’s link.

Mike Ridley Photography

noctilucent clouds by mike ridley photography Noctilucent Clouds over Durham City, June 17th/18th 2019 by Mike Ridley Photography

Flooding at Croxdale, June 2012

Flooding at The Honest Lawyer, Croxdale in the phenomenally wet summer of 2012. The River Browney, a tributary of the Wear, snakes past the hotel and is prone to flooding. Flood prevention here has stopped things getting as bad as previous years. The hotel has been flooded out on many occasions in the past (see photo below).

June was particularly poor. There were 3 days in the month with > 20 mm of rain. It was the 3rd wettest June since 1850 in Durham, with a total of 138.6mm. 2012 was the wettest year since 1850 in Durham. It was the dullest June on record in Durham since 1882.

Here’s a video from around Consett in the storms

Courtesy of The Met Office
Lightning strikes the Tyne Bridge in June 2012

Current River Level at Sunderland Bridge.

You can view the current level of the River Wear at Sunderland Bridge here.

June 2007 – A wet one, and very dull

June 2007
This month has proved to be quite a wet one, with 80.0mm of rain falling (although 111.8mm recorded in Durham) – not a remarkably high total (146% of the 1971-2000 mean), but considering the first 11 days of the month were completely dry it’s quite noteable. Only two dry days were experienced after that. It could have been much wetter, the extreme weather which caused extensive flooding in South Yorkshire towards the end of the month stayed just to the south of us in Ferryhill.

One thing that has been noteable about June 2007 is it’s extreme dullness. It was one of the dullest Junes in North East England – the total of 101.5hrs made it the 4th dullest since 1882 and the worst sunshine total since 1987 (89.4hrs). It was less sunny than May, which was itself less sunny than April. It was thought this ‘reverse’ sequence must be unique, but in fact it has now happened 7 times in the April-June period since 1882.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2006-2010/the-weather-at-durham-in-2007/june-2007/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

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