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
The very wet Summer of 2012 continued into Autumn. The river burst it’s banks again in the city. This red car (Ford Ka) became quite famous as it bobbed about in front of the new Radisson Hotel (due to open a couple of months after this photo was taken).
A view of the flood from the Passport Office/National Savings Building. The red car can just be seen in the left mid-distance.
There was exceptionally heavy rainfall and flooding towards the end of the month. The rainfall was spread across two days, with 47.4mm recorded on the 24th and 40.8mm on the 25th. The former is the 27th wettest day on record at Durham since 1850 and the latter was the 41st wettest. Looking at 2-day totals, the combined total of 88.2mm is the 5th highest 2-day total since 1850, although well less than the record holder, 10th / 11th September 1976 when a total of 120.1mm was recorded. The heaviest rain fell late on the evening of the 24th when 16mm fell in 3 hours. It was the wettest September since 1976 and the 7th wettest on record.
25th Nov Snow cover at 0900hrs. 2″ in Ferryhill, 5-6″ in Newcastle.
26th Nov Snow cover continuing. Brighter, with improvement in road conditions
27th Nov. Snow cover holding. Several further snow showers today
28th Nov. Some more snow overnight. Hard frost. -17.3C in Llandryndodd Wells in Wales overnight
29th Nov. 4″ more snow overnight. Slight thaw. Frequent showers of hail, sleet and snow. Thunder too!
30th Nov. Snow cover persisting. Frequent snow showers. Strong E wind. Cold
1st Dec. More snow overnight. Another 1-2″. -20c at Atnaharra last night
2nd Dec Frequent snow showers from the East. Cold again. Another 3″ of snow falling
3rd Dec. Very cold morning. New record for December at Ferryhill (-8.6). Snow showers dying out but deep snow cover remains. Ice day.
4th Dec. Still deep snow cover (15″). Shallow freezing fog.
5th Dec. Snow cover persisting. Very cold later.
6th Dec. Very cold morning again (-7.8). 12 days of snow cover now. Ice day
7th Dec. Snow cover becoming icy. Spell of light snow early morning. Cold. Ice day
8th Dec. Sunny, bright day. Ice day.
9th Dec. Temp returns above zero. Thaw is beginning, but still snow lying @ 0900.
10th Dec. Substantial thawing of lying snow, but still >50% lying at 0900.
11th Dec. Thaw continuing. Probably last day with >50% cover. 6.8 degC is highest since 20th Nov.
12th Dec. Milder and drizzly rain. Majority of snow melted, except in sheltered areas.
16th Dec 5am. Cold front sweeps south leaving snow and ice. 7 degC drop from 5 > 8am. Treacherous roads. Cold
17th Dec Snow cover at 0900hrs. Ice on pavements. Very cold.
18th Dec. Very cold. No fresh snow, but very icy.
19th Dec Very cold and sunny. 7th ice day of the month!
20th Dec Very cold, sunny and icy.
21st Dec Very cold again. Slightly ‘warmer’ (around freezing) tonight, with some snow showers
22nd Dec Snow showers overnight and early morning. Not quite as cold. Heavy showers in evening too
23rd Dec Still a couple of inches snow cover. Sunshine and snow showers
24th Dec Some fresh snow from showers. Cold
25th Dec Slight thaw. No fresh snow, but still a covering at 0900
26th Dec Very cold. Snow flurries
27th Dec Very cold. Snow flurries. Snowcover diminishing
28th Dec Substantial thaw. Conditions improving
29th Dec Less than 50% ground covered by snow
December 2010 was the coldest December in Durham for more than a century (Dec 1895). The river completely froze over, a very rare occurence, seen only in the very coldest of conditions.
My weather summary for Ferryhill shows the extent of the cold conditions
Some of the worst flooding in recent years was experienced in Durham during the very wet July of 2009. The River Wear burst it’s banks in the city and riverside businesses were inundated after more than 2” of rain fell in one day (64.2mm was recorded on the 17th), on top of already saturated ground.
Photo Courtesy of Michael Ross.
The most extraordinary weather episode in July occurred on the 17th when very high rainfall caused severe flooding in Durham; the University’s Maiden Castle sports centre was inundated for only the 3rd time since being built in the early 1960s. The rain began on the 16th with a fall of 11.6mm in one hour (1400 – 1500 GMT): altogether 15mm fell that day. A total of 64.2mm was recorded on the 17th; there were only 3 hours that were completely dry. Remarkably, 6.6mm fell between 1400 and 1500 GMT and 9.2mm in the next hour. The highest gust of the month was recorded during this period. 17th July 2009 is the 6th wettest day on record at Durham since 1850. The last time this total was exceeded was 25th August 1986 when 69.2mm fell.
The wettest day on record at Durham is 11th September 1976 with 87.8mm. All this rain meant the 4th wettest July on record, easily beating last year (134mm), but still exceeded by 1930 (183.9mm), 1867 (184.9mm) and 1888 (206.6mm). It was the 17th wettest month on record since 1850. Interestingly, 8 of these 17 have been in summer, 4 in autumn and five in winter, none in spring; this reflects the fact that Durham tends to have wet summers (marginally wetter than autumn) with a tendency to heavy falls of rain. As a result, all long-term rainfall totals are now well above average again.
In terms of temperature, July (26.8°C) was an unexceptional month, a little above average in all respects; only 13 days had a maximum above 20°C. The absolute maximum on the 1st was the highest since 2006, but thereafter temperatures were not exceptional. The absolute minimum was the highest since 2004.
Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
In Ferryhill, I recorded 43.6mm of rain on 17th.
Here’s a view of The Half Moon Beer Garden, submerged in floodwater
The Grand Canyon of Durham
Picture copyright of courtesy of North News and Pictures Ltd.
This is the scene just to the East of Houghall College where floodwater tore a canyon in a field in it’s rush to join the River Wear. It is up to 100ft across, 15ft deep and 200 yards long. It is estimated that the water carried into the river up to 12,000 cubic metres of soil, weighing 15,000 tons, the volume of 25 swimming pools.
The River Wear in spate again in September 2008. The main wear, normally visible about 4ft above the river is almost totally submerged. The river was 6” away from bursting it’s banks.
This was the scene in Croxdale in September 2008 as firemen begin the cleanup process after another flooding episode at The Honest Lawyer Hotel. The River Browney burst it’s banks and inundaded the hotel and motel rooms.
Further North in Northumberland, there was a disastrous flood in Morpeth on 6th September.
The Morpeth flood: 6 September 2008
The North East region, despite its general rain-shadow setting, is no stranger to floods (Archer, 1992) and Morpeth has endured severe flooding often: for example, in 1863, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1881, 1886, 1898, 1900, 1903, 1924 and 1963. The event of 6 September 2008 was in many ways typical, and has been well-documented. The floods on this occa- sion were brought about by 24 hours of persistent rain causing the River Wansbeck to burst its banks, flooding the town (Figure 4) and causing damage estimated as costing £40 million. The cause was in contrast to that of the previous serious flood, on 7 March 1963, which was due to the thawing of deep snow that had accumulated over the famously-cold preceding winter. The 2008 event was associated with a slow-moving but active frontal system. In this case the centre of low pressure lay to the south of the region exposing it to easterly winds, turning this normally sheltered side of the country into an exposed region and producing an estimated 80mm or more of rain in the pre- ceding 24 hours over the catchment. The distribution of precipitation over Britain on the evening of 5 September is illustrated in Figure 5: the control exerted by the slow-moving fronts across northern England is clearly seen. An important causative agent was that the preceding summer had been wet, the Northumbrian region having experienced 200% of average rainfall in July and August, so that soil-moisture deficits were very low. The catchment consists of narrow, relatively steep-sided valleys, encouraging the rapid movement of water into the tributary channels upstream of the town; the Environment Agency estimated that as much as 54% of the rainwater took the form of this runoff. But these rains were widespread and many gauging sites in northern England recorded new record peak flows (Environment Agency, 2009) and it was the combination of the factors noted that brought about this disaster. There was an almost identical repeat of these conditions in the town (whose motto, with an irony not lost on local residents, isInter Sylvas et Flumina Habitans or living between woods and waters) on 25 September 2012.
From “Regional weather and climates of the British Isles – Part 4: North East England and Yorkshire” by Dennis Wheeler, University of Sunderland, Weather July 2013.