Durham Weather Summary 2019 – Wet and Warm

The Weather of 2019 in Durham was quite noteworthy, particularly because there were some very warm temperatures and also the second half of 2019 was very wet.

Some very mild temperatures in February

Once again, the winter was on the mild side, especially in February when the 20 degC mark was breached in the UK for the first time. In Durham, the maximum was 17.1 degC and we were lucky enough to spend the time it occurred in York, sitting by the river in T-shirts as if it were a Summer’s day.

Warm Easter weekend

Easter was in April and once again the Bank Holiday was blessed with great weather. Unbroken sunshine over the weekend made it a very memorable holiday. Once again we were away from home, up on the East Coast at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. The kite festival was on and we came back with a suntan (in April!).

July had record heat

The summer featured some very warm temperatures, peaking in July when the UK record was broken at Cambridge Botanical Garden. The temperature of 38.7 degC beat the old record by 0.2 degC. In Durham, I recorded 33.7 degC, which compared to the 32.9 degC at the official station at Durham University Observatory on Potter’s Bank.

Very wet in the second half of the year

The biggest feature of the second half of the year was it’s intense wetness. From June until November, rainfall was well above average. The wettest month was June itself (129.7mm), closely followed by November (129.3mm). Durham got away without any major flooding, but other parts of the country weren’t so lucky, with a dam close to collapse in Derbyshire and serious flooding in Sheffield later.

The overall rainfall total for the year was 806.1mm, which is about 150mm above normal for a year in Durham. The wettest day was 8th June with 31.8mm, but there were 25 days with more than a 10mm fall, which is high.

 

2017 Yearly Summary

2017 was the 10th warmest year on record at Durham since 1850, only marginally cooler than 1990 which had a memorably warm summer. The mean maximum air temperature was the 20th warmest on record (since 1900) and the mean minimum air temperature was the 3rd warmest on record, beaten only by 2004 and 2014. The overall warmth of 2017 was therefore more due to warm nights than warm days. Even so, there were 82 ground frosts, a higher number than in the previous three years, although still the 11th lowest total on record (since 1954). Rainfall was just a little above average but not greatly so, only the 70th wettest in 168 years. Total sunshine hours were again below average, the 29th lowest annual total since 1882.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2016-2020/the-weather-at-durham-in-2017/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2016 Yearly Summary

2016 was the 17th warmest year (9.4°C) at Durham since 1850, 0.1°C warmer than last year. Of the 16 warmer years, nine have been since 2000; in a stationary series, only two would be expected. Only two months fell below the 1961 – 1990 average temperature: April and November. Whilst the decadal running mean for annual temperature has fallen slightly from a peak in 2002 (9.7°C), it remains higher than at any stage before 1998. As a result the number of ground frosts was well below average, the 3rd equal lowest total since 1931 (beaten only in 2000 and 2014). The annual rainfall total (698.9mm) was 49.9mm above average but this is not an exceptional total, ranking 58th highest in 168 years. It was a dull year (1160.2 hours), only 89% of the normal amount of sunshine, the 10th least sunny year since 1882.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2016-2020/the-weather-at-durham-in-2016/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2015 Yearly Summary

For the year as a whole, three months fell below the 1961-1990 average temperature (June, July, September) so, despite a warm end to the year, the overall average (9.3°C) was well down on last year. Whilst well above the 1961-1990 average, it is only just above the average for the last 30 years. 2015 was the 37th wettest year on record at Durham, a dry first half to the year and a wet second half. Five of the last ten years have been wetter. Sunshine hours were once again below average, for the fourth year in a row. There was, like 2014, a low number of ground frosts (72) and, despite the high rainfall total, a relatively low number of rain days (167). This reflects the tendency for mean rainfall intensity gradually to have increased since the 1890s and particularly since the 1960s (Burt et al., 2015).

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2011-2015/the-weather-at-durham-in-2015/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2014 Yearly Summary

For the year as a whole, only August experienced below-average temperatures and overall 2014 was the warmest year in Durham since records began in 1850. Indeed, if the 2014 average temperature (10.07°C) is expressed to two decimal places, this was the first time that the annual average has exceeded 10°C at Durham; the previous records holders (2004, 2011) both averaged 9.96°C. Of the ten warmest years at Durham, eight have been since 2000; 1990 and 1949 are the only exceptions. The mean maximum temperature (13.5°C) was the 12th highest since 1900 whilst the mean minimum temperature (6.6°C) was the highest on record. The absolute minimum for the year (-3.3°C; 24th March) is the highest absolute minimum since available records begin in 1962. There were only 65 ground frosts, the second lowest total on record. Following two very wet years, 2014 was the driest since the very dry year of 2011. The annual total fell for hours of bright sunshine and was below average.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2011-2015/the-weather-at-durham-in-2014/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2013 Yearly Summary

For the year as a whole, the mean air temperature was 9.0°C, ranking equal 134th in 164 years. Whereas the 12-month running mean was only 8.2°C at the end of March, temperatures recovered well thereafter. 2013 was another wet year. The total of 764.6mm is the 23rd wettest year on record at Durham since 1850. In terms of all possible 12-month totals (n=1957), 2013 was the 330th highest total, well into the top quartile therefore. As noted earlier, the 12-month total to March 2013 was the highest for any 12-month period on record (1143.8mm) and, whilst the calendar year 2013 was drier than 2012, it was still well above average. Not surprisingly, the combined total (1797.6mm) for 2012 and 2013 is the highest for two consecutive calendar years combined at Durham since records began in 1850, beating 2011/12 and before that 1930/31. There were only 164 rain days despite the high total. In contrast there were a number of notable wet days: 10 days with 15mm or above and 4 days with 25mm or above. Only 7 years since 1850 have had more than 4 days above 25mm, most recently 2012 and before that 2000. Finally, in terms of sunshine, 2013 was another dull year, just a few more hours than the previous year. It ranked only 36th in a 131-year record.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2011-2015/the-weather-at-durham-in-2013/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

 

2012 Yearly Summary

Durham City Roads Flooded, June 28th 2012. Credit : ITV News

In summary, as noted at some length, this was easily the wettest year on record at Durham since records began in 1850. The total of 1033mm is remarkable, more than 100mm larger than the previous record in 1872 (914.9mm). In statistical terms, the probability of an annual total this large is something less than I in 10,000 – so perhaps the wettest year since the last Ice Age! Curiously there were 4 fewer rain days (183) than normal. In terms of temperature, it was above average (8.92°C), ranking 127th out of 163 years. Not surprisingly, it was disappointing year for sunshine, ranking only 34th since 1882, yet there were slightly more ground frosts than normal. However, the main memory will be of a remarkably wet end to a year that started with a winter drought!

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2011-2015/the-weather-at-durham-in-2012/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2011 Annual Summary

Following a below-average year in 2010, 2011 was a remarkable transformation: the warmest year on record at Durham, equal to 2004 at 9.96°C (to two decimal places) but 10°C to all intents and purposes! There was a remarkably low number of ground frosts, only 78; only 2002 (71), 2003 (77) and 2004 (67) have had fewer. Only 2000 (19) and 2002 (16) have had fewer ground frosts than 2011 (20) in the second half of the year. Nine months were below average in 2011 so the low rainfall total for the year was no surprise. The low total was not exceptional, however: it was only the 47th driest year at Durham in 162 years. The highest daily total of the year was on 6th August when 36.2mm was recorded (I was at a friend’s wedding that day and I can categorically state that it was the wettest wedding i’ve EVER been to). 2011 had slightly more than average hours of bright sunshine, but both 2006 and 2009 had higher totals. The sunniest day of the year turned out to be 26th May; this late spring day was better than anything that followed during the summer!

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2011-2015/the-weather-at-durham-in-2011/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2010 Yearly Summary

For the year as a whole, mean air temperature in 2010 (8.3°C) was below average (8.6°C, 1961 – 1990) for the first time since 1996 when the same mean was recorded. It was the 62nd coldest year since 1850, so not in the lowest quartile. The 2010 mean was the coldest for any 12 – month period since the “year” ending in January 1997. It was the first calendar year since 1985 when there were 7 months below mean air temperature. It is of interest that the decadal running mean (9.5°C, 2001 – 2010), having fallen a little from the record high of three years ago, still remains the 5th highest for any 10 – year period since 1850. Rainfall was nearly 100mm above average, 129th wettest in 161 years; even so, the previous two years were wetter. Sunshine was 6% below average, the dullest year since 2004. It is some measure of the disappointing amount of bright sunshine during 2010 that the sunniest day was 1st April!

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

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2009 Yearly Summary

Notwithstanding a cold December, the year as a whole saw an average mean air temperature of 9.5°C, the 14th equal warmest in 160 years. In this decade only 2000, 2001 and 2008 have been colder. All years this decade are in the top 21 warmest out of 160 years. One very cold month right at the end of 2009 could not disguise the fact that this has been the warmest decade on record at Durham since 1850. Given the exceptionally wet July and November, this meant that 2009 as a whole was also well above average in terms of rainfall total, even though eight months were below average. It was the 32nd wettest year at Durham since 1850 (749.1mm). This decade only 2000 (873.2mm) and 2008 (817.1mm) have been wetter. There were 176 rain days – the most since 2000. 2009 was the sunniest year since 2003, just above average.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2006-2010/the-weather-at-durham-in-2009/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University