Durham Weather August 2019 – The Wet Summer Continues

Durham Weather August 2019 Rainfall Summary

After June and July gave us above average rainfall, August continued with the theme. There were brief spells of real warmth, but no real sustained anticyclonic spells. Thunderstorms were quite frequent in the disturbed weather patterns which came mainly from the Atlantic. We were on the North side of the Jet Stream for long periods.

The opening week was reasonable, with temps in the low 20s, but things quickly deteriorated to give 51.7mm of rain over the 9th-12th period. Temperatures dropped too and 20 degC wasn’t breached at all between the 10th and 20th, with rain every day. In fact August had rain on 21 days in total.

Summer weather then returned from 23rd-27th and the maximum for the month of 28.1 degC occurred on 25th. Overall, August was close to average, with the milder nights achieving this figure rather than regularly high maxima.


August 2019 Weather Nationally (Trevor Harley)

August 2019 was Mostly unsettled but with a hot sunny in spell in the south 21 – 27th giving a very hot late August Bank Holiday: it was 30.7C at Heathrow on Saturday 24th. The record late Bank Holiday temperature then occurred on Sunday 25th, with 33.3C recorded at London (Heathrow). It was the hottest late Bank Holiday Monday on record by some way, beating 2017, with 33.2C at London Heathrow (on the 26th). It was then 33.4C at Heathrow on Tuesday 27th, the highest temperature of the month – an extraordinary late spell. A thundery breakdown was followed by a cool end to the month. It was slightly warmer than average, but very wet, with 153% of average, and more than twice the average in the north and northwest. It was very slightly sunnier than average across the country. 69.8 mm of rain fell in 24 hours on the 30-31st at Tyndrum (Perthshire).


The three months of summer yielded 129.7mm, 77.7mm and 81.5mm of rain. This is about 80% above the average for 1981-2010. It rained on 59 days of the summer, or 2 out of every 3 days. There were 5 days with more than 20mm of rain recorded and the wettest day of the summer was 8th June.

The highlight of the summer however will be the phenomenal short heat burst at the end of July yielding a new national high temperature record in Cambridge.

July 2019 – A real mixture of everything meteorological

The weather of Durham in July 2019 was a real mixture. The first week was very pleasant and dry, with temperatures hovering around the 20-22 degC mark. It got a little warmer toward the middle of the month, as we’d expect, but also slightly more unsettled. A few days peaked at over 25 degC, namely 10th, 11th and 16th. Nothing exceptional though, just typical July weather.

What came next was extraordinary. Air began to arrive from North Africa. Europe sweltered and several records were broken. In the UK, temperatures soared. The short heatwave of July 22nd-26th was one of the most extreme.

Record high temperatures at Durham

At Gilesgate, the 23rd reached 29.9 degC. Two days later, we hit 33.7 degC! The official Durham University Observatory site peaked at 32.9 degC on the 25th, which was the highest official temperature recorded in Durham since 33.6 degC was reached in July 1876. This temperature was recorded in a Glaisher Screen. The reading of 32.9 degC was the highest at Durham since the modern standard  Stevenson Screen was installed in 1900.

The hourly mean temperature for 25th was 24.0 deg. Using the (max+min)/2 method, it was 25.2 degC. For a city as northerly as Durham that is amazing.

Oxford Botanic Gardens broke the all time UK record on 25th with 38.7 degC (this was only confirmed after several days). This beat the 38.5 degC from Faversham in Kent in 2003. Almost inevitably, the heat was dispersed by thundersorms and torrential rain, with over 25mm on the 27th and a very wet day on 31st nationally. There was severe flooding in the Reeth and Leyburn area when thunderstorms dropped a reported 130mm+ in just a few hours, with massive hail being recorded.

Met Office : Record breaking heatwave of July 2019

Met Office : Heavy Rainfall in July 2019

The hourly mean temperature was 17.7 degC, which is quite warm for July. Rainfall was about 40% higher than normal.


July 2019 Weather Nationally (Trevor Harley)

Very warm overall. A cool start, followed by high pressure building, particularly giving fine weather over the south and west. The second half of the month was more unsettled, but there was an exceptional hot stpell 22 – 26 July. A new July record was set on the 25th with 38.1 in Cambridge in an exceptional heatwave. It was later confirmed that 38.7C (101.7F) was reached at Cambridge Botanical Gardens the same day, beating 2003 and setting a new overall UK record high temperature. Overall rainfall was 114%, but it was relatively dry in the SW and Wales. Sunshine was exactly average. There was an interesting pheneomenon on 25 July at Donna Nook (Lincs.) when during a “heat burst” at 10.20 pm the temperature briefly rose from 22°C to 32°C.


Funnel Cloud seen over North East England – 28th May 2019

The report above appeared in the Northern Echo newspaper on 29th May 2019.

The axis of funnel clouds may be vertical, inclined (as seen here), or sometimes long and sinuous.  In the UK it is usually tens of metres in diamater (not huge). It is much rarer for funnel clouds to touch the ground and that is when they become tornadoes, but it does happen occasionally. Most UK tornado reports come from The Midlands, Central, Southern and South East England and East Anglia. Our very own Tornado Alley!

If you see a funnel cloud or suspected tornado, you should report it to TORRO (Tornado and Storm Research Organisation). They catalog such stuff and produce stats and mapping.

There are 40 tornadoes per year recorded on average in the UK. England has the highest reported incidence of tornadoes per square mile in the World. That usually surprises a few people, but it’s true!

The longest ground track by a tornado in the UK was in May 1950, when a tornado traveled 107km from Buckinghamshire to Cambridgeshire.

Electrical Storms in Northern England – 11th September 2000

Amazing Storms Cause Havoc

Here is what I wrote in my weather diary on the night:

There have been quite severe electrical storms in the North East of England tonight with torrential rain at times. In Ferryhill, the storms started at about 2030 GMT after the weather became very muggy and humid at the end of the afternoon. Late afternoon Dew Point was 19 degC with RH at 92 %. Between 2100 GMT and 2315 GMT lightning flickered almost constantly in all quadrants of the sky, mainly cloud-cloud at first but then some hefty cloud-ground discharges later.

I rang a friend of mine on his mobile to see if he was watching the spectacle. When he answered, he said he was sitting in his car in Aycliffe Village. He said the rain was torrential and we observed the same lightning discharges from about 7 miles apart. While we were talking, a lightning bolt came to earth about 200 yards from where he was sitting and struck a tree on the village green. He described the lightning engulfing the canopy of the tree with a ‘blue electric shroud’. The tree didn’t split, but the ground around the base was seen to be steaming after the strike.

Two miles up the road is the Plastics Factory where we work on Aycliffe Industrial Estate. He said he could hear the site Emergency Alarm going off and it sounded for 50 minutes. Shortly after this 5 or 6 Fire Engines roared through the village from Durham on the way to the factory. The site emergency alarm had obviously been set off by a strike. It’s unknown at the moment if any damage has been caused as they disable all public phone lines into the site when the emergency procedure is triggered. I’m dreading turning up tomorrow to see the effect this has had on our site computer network.

I’ve seen all colours in the lightning discharges tonight from yellow, through orange to green and purple. There seemed to be some circulation involved with rain coming with a slight southerly drift, then ten minutes later from the north, then back to the south again.

Rainfall at it’s heaviest here at Ferryhill yielded 6.8 mm in 30 minutes between 2100 and 2130 GMT but reported to be heavier in Aycliffe. My next door neighbour finishing his 2-10 shift had to stop on the A167 on the way back as a nearby strike blinded him temporarily and took the streetlights out at the same time, plunging him into total darkness before the next lightning lit his way.

The lights are flickering again, so i’m going to post this before I need to disconnect the modem again for the night !