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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.

 

“The Great Global Warming Swindle” 2007

This was a video produced by Channel 4 in 2007, supposedly debunking Global Warming/Climate Change. Discussion ensued on The North East Forum at the time. This was in 2007 and the warming has got worse since then. It’s an interesting discussion and fairly typical of arguments at the time. Here’s a transcript.

Barcode :

I notice the people who were involved in the film are respected scientists who are not afraid to delve into historic fact to prove their theories! Something that the ‘we are to blame for global warming’ mob seem to avoid at all costs. Just visit a site which has discussions on the subject and notice how often the mention of the last ice age seems to kill the thread without fail.

Durham Weather :

I haven’t watched it all the way through yet, but noticed that at least one of the scientists featured is Piers Corbyn. He’s portrayed in the film as one who bets on his weather forecasts based on solar data and gets it right all of the time. That’s not true, his forecasts are at times woeful and often wrong, no better than chance. He has also flatly refused to have any of his methods tested by his peers, so is regarded as a bit of an eccentric and chancer. I’ve actually met Piers, he’s a nice man, but isn’t regarded very highly in Meteorological circles.

Also, it seems that other bits of evidence are being ignored in the film to illustrate the point they’re trying to make. Lots of fancy 3D graphs, but not a lot of science. Graphs axes have been vastly expanded to make correlations look ‘nailed on’, when in fact only tenuous correlations exist in reality.

One thing i’ve learned about climate change is that everyone seems to have an opinion about it, even though they probably have no great understanding of climatic processes, oceanography or the chemistry involved. They form their opinion based on the media’s distorted reporting of it (both sides). My own view? Climate Change is occurring and man is contributig to it. It’s not a vast contribution in the scale of things, but it seems to be making the difference in the speed of change, on top of natural warming, which nature is struggling to cope with. It makes sense to conserve our finite resources, and pouring oil on the fire doesn’t seem a sensible thing to do into the future. It makes sense to try to operate in a way that might help mitigate the change rather than adding to it’s magnitude.

You don’t need to be an eminent scientist with a research grant, I can see the warming in the data from Durham University. It’s quite plain to see. To deny it exists is just stupid. It’s not all due to humans, that isn’t the claim at all, but it is however something we should be worried about and try to prepare ourselves for and reduce if possible. Politicians of course see it as another way to tax us further into oblivion, a fact that we should despise them for. They should offer incentives, not punitive taxes to make life more of a misery than it already is for some people.

Phil :

I watched the entire thing; my interest is chiefly in the communications angle. Some well-tried-and-true devices at work here, some done well and others quite clumsy. Some made me laugh out loud, for instance the background music (strings for the ‘bad science,’  piccolos for the ‘good science’) but overall it was quite an effective vehicle for the propaganda it carries.

Examined carefully, its thesis is that carbon dioxide is not a major cause of global warming, but the presentation purports that global warmng is a hoax — in fact not a single scientist agreed with that, but it was well glossed over.

Question everything. It’s how science works.

Barcode :

Ok! what about the global warming that ended the last ice age?

Durham Weather : 

What about it?

Barcode :

Why did it not lead to catastrophic events that are predicted by todays scientists for the present global warming which they blame on human activity! Was global warming 10`000 years ago down to industry (foraging was about the largest industry at the time)or was it something more natural and less fantastic as we are lead to believe?
By the way Durham Forum, your reply above is quite fallible.

Durham Weather :

I’d be more than happy if you could demonstrate the fallability for me. How much do you know about climate science, astronomy and oceanography?

Barcode :

Not that much but the question of historic global climatic changes still seem to be shunned.

Durham Weather :

Before being led astray by the media and Channel 4 (on both sides of the argument), get a copy of ‘Climate, History and the Modern World’ by HH Lamb and read it. All of the reasons for variations in climate both past, present and future are covered. It was published in 1982, before climate hysteria descended upon us. It’s not a simple relationship like the C4 programme tried to put over, and the peculiar arrangements of Solar cycles, orbital changes, ocean current heat transport changes, prevailing wind, sea ice, Volcanic dust levels, proximity to permanent ice sheets and all such things need to be taken into account too. Feedback loops exist when some of the inputs are altered, before a new steady state of climates is established. Most of the feedback loops are positive ones, adding to the warming. It’s not as simple as just saying CO2 follows temperature, nor the other way round. If this was the only relationship that was important in atmospheric physics, the world would have lost it’s breathable atmosphere long ago. CO2 is important because it changes the way the atmosphere manages it’s heat budget; even the small quantities that it is present at in the atmosphere. Water vapour and methane are also greenhouse gases, and would also contribute positive feedback to any increase in temperature. In short, it’s far more complicated and can only really be modelled on a computer. Our best understanding at the moment is that human activity contributes to the overall warming. It’s small at the moment, but it will become a bigger and bigger influence in future if we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere at the rate we are at now.

The theory of Cosmic Rays/Solar variation being the driving factor that was presented in the programme has never been proved by anyone. Drawing a few graphs isn’t science. You have to prove your postulated theory for it to become accepted as fact, and Piers Corbyn has never done that i’m afraid.

Barcode :

Get one thing straight here! I am not asking the question about the history of climatic change for the first time! in fact I have been asking the question for years before i saw that video! and as yet the question about historic climatic change and why recent climatic change is different is still avoided.

Durham Weather :

It may be avoided in sensational TV programmes, but if you read the book I suggested you’ll see that in fact it hasn’t been. I think i’ve explained why the two situations are different. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now approaching what atmospheric scientists suspect is a critical level. They’re getting nervous about it, and piling more into the atmosphere just doesn’t sound too sensible. Once that critical level is reached, it’s believed that abrupt and sudden climatic changes may occur, before a new steady state of climate is reached. The new steady state may take some time to arrive though, with climatic turmoil in the meantime. One of the consequences is that European temperatures may drop 4-5 degC, perhaps in a 25 year time span. This type of thing probably happened in the past when ice-ages occurred (a cooler spell, the Little Ice Age. occured after the Mediaeval Warm period mentioned in the C4 programme, this was put down to the Maunder minimum sunspot period, but may have been due to a change in ocean/wind circulation). Global Warming may well result in Local Cooling for some. If it were to occur in Europe it would have catastrophic effects. Harvests would fail, food would be rationed, populations would migrate south, causing pressures elsewhere, shortage of water would then become a problem too. Burying our heads in the sand and denying the holocaust is all well and good, but it doesn’t help in the least.

There may actually be bog-all we can do about the warming, but we can try to prepare for it’s effects, minimise the loss of life and make everyone aware of what is likely to happen. Or we can just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Barcode :

Forgive me for being argumentative but they also ranted on about the ozone layer and how we would also all be dying from skin cancer by the year 2000! I aint got skin cancer in 2007 and I don?t know anyone that has it.

Durham Weather :

If you moved to Australia you might find that incidences of melanoma have increased dramatically. The ozone hole was/is a southern hemisphere phenomenon, not a northern one (not anything like the same depletion anyway). Banning chlorofluorocarbons has had an effect and the ozone depletion is becoming less severe each year now, but there is a time lag before CFC’s are removed from the atmosphere and the hole is ‘plugged’ as it were. If nothing had been done, there would have been a huge explosion in skin cancers there (until the human body evolved to be more tolerant to UV light, but that might take 500,000 years or so).

Barcode :

So why did it happen down there when the northern hemisphere is the most industrialised and producing a lot more CFC`s by a long long way?

Durham Weather :

The atmospheres over the two poles are very different. Antarctica exists as a land mass, surrounded by water, whereas the north pole is essentially water that freezes in winter, surrounded by land. The height of the tropospheric boundary is also different in the southern hemisphere, as are the stratospheric cloud formations needed for the reactions to occur. It is thought that the southern circulation allows a deeper vortex over the pole (there isn’t as much land to disturb the flow, and it’s colder), so concentrations of CFCs are higher there. If you look at a map of the globe, the most land is in the northern hemisphere and the south is pretty much all water. It doesn’t really matter where on the globe the CFCs are produced, they will always migrate toward the poles, in the north the vortex is disturbed by land masses, and it isn’t as cold, in the south it isn’t, so higher CFC concentration and less ozone produced, hence a bigger ‘hole’.

Barcode :

Hang here a minute you have lost me! The Polar Regions effect the placement of ozone depleting gasses? Which CFC`s are metallic enough to migrate because of polarity?
Call me stoopid if you like.

Durham Weather :

It’s not a magnetic effect, rather one of atmospheric circulation. When I talk of ‘poles’ I don’t mean it in a ‘magnetic polarity’ kind of way. Sorry if I misled you there.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6290228.stm

A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun’s output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.

It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun’s output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.

It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun’s effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.

Writing in the Royal Society’s journal Proceedings A, the researchers say cosmic rays may have affected climate in the past, but not the present.

“This should settle the debate,” said Mike Lockwood, from the UK’s Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, who carried out the new analysis together with Claus Froehlich from the World Radiation Center in Switzerland.

Dr Lockwood initiated the study partially in response to the TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, broadcast on Britain’s Channel Four earlier this year, which featured the cosmic ray hypothesis.

“All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that,” he told the BBC News website.

“You can’t just ignore bits of data that you don’t like,” he said.

Warming trend

The scientists’ main approach on this new analysis was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature, which has risen by about 0.4C over the period.

The Sun varies on a cycle of about 11 years between periods of high and low activity.

But that cycle comes on top of longer-term trends; and most of the 20th Century saw a slight but steady increase in solar output.

However, in about 1985, that trend appears to have reversed, with solar output declining.

Yet this period has seen temperatures rise as fast as – if not faster than – any time during the previous 100 years.

“This paper reinforces the fact that the warming in the last 20 to 40 years can’t have been caused by solar activity,” said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of climate science.

Cosmic relief

The IPCC’s February summary report concluded that greenhouse gases were about 13 times more responsible than solar changes for rising global temperatures.

But the organisation was criticised in some quarters for not taking into account the cosmic ray hypothesis, developed by, among others, Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish National Space Center.

Their theory holds that cosmic rays help clouds to form by providing tiny particles around which water vapour can condense. Overall, clouds cool the Earth.

During periods of active solar activity, cosmic rays are partially blocked by the Sun’s more intense magnetic field. Cloud formation diminishes, and the Earth warms.

Mike Lockwood’s analysis appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis.

He said: “I do think there is a cosmic ray effect on cloud cover. It works in clean maritime air where there isn’t much else for water vapour to condense around.

“It might even have had a significant effect on pre-industrial climate; but you cannot apply it to what we’re seeing now, because we’re in a completely different ball game.”

Drs Svensmark and Friis-Christensen could not be reached for comment.

SouthernExPat :

My major problem with the whole Global Warming thing is the Scientists! (and the Labour Government of course, who attempt to use it as an excuse just to tax the f*ck out of us)

The reason I have trouble believing Modern Science is thus!

a) Scientists warned us that our VHS recorders, Computers and Microwave ovens were all going to explode on 1/1/00…And Aircraft would drop out of the skies! (bulls*it)

b) They told us that by the year 2000 one in three people in the world would have AIDS (bullsh*t)

c) They scaremongered about SARS wiping out the worlds population (bullsh*t)

d) They scaremongered about Bird Flu wiping out our native Birds etc (bullsh*t)

e) They scaremongered that eggs were full of Salmonella and would poison us (bullsh*t)

these are just ones that jump to mind!

I thought Science was about cold, hard FACTS

If the above is to be believed…thats (Bullsh*t) too

Phil :

Science is a method; it has no opinions.

Gather the villagers … to the castle!

SouthernExPat :

I am not going anywhere near the castle thank you! (that was invented by Science too) :D

Tessxvi :

Would it not be truer to say that the media said the above?  To find out what the original report actually said would probably be quite difficult.

One of the things that worries me about our world today is that all our “information” comes through the media pipeline.  Finding out “the facts” is hard work and all too often we don’t bother – or we give up.

SouthernExPat :

Tessxvi?.. That is a very valid point. 8)

I may have been the victim of the media circus…but then I am sure the Government are too (rather more than they care to admit) :?

Loudon Wainwright III – You Don’t Want to Know [1987]

Here’s a song by one of my favourite artists, Loudon Wainwright III. It was written during the cold spell in 1987, when Loudon was living in England.

Loudon Wainwright III – You don’t want to know (1987)

It was colder than a witches tit, colder than a Polar bear’s nose,
Colder than the shoulder of my old flame, colder than hell ever knows,
Not quite as cold as you think it is when the wind chill factors blow,
But at Centigrade and Fahrenheit it felt way below zero.

The electric duvet was cranked way up to 10, the gas fires were on full blast,
When i get the bills from both of those Boards i don’t know if the money will last,
I was fully clothed in my entire wardrobe but i still couldn’t feel my toes,
The pipes all burst and we had another first, the water in the toilet bowl froze.

When the radio ordered me to stay at home i obeyed though i was miffed,
But the roads were ice, there was a ton of snow, and when the wind blows snow will drift,
I was brushing and flossing my chattering teeth and in the mirror i saw my breath,
Half frozen watching the TV news, the other half of me was worried to death.

We’ve got helicopter rescues and freezing old ladies and the choochoo trains won’t go,
On the M4 there’s a 5 mile tailback, lorries jacknifing in the snow,
And it’s summertime down in Australia and what gets right under my skin,
On the TV they showing suntanned cricketers, they’re just rubbing it in !

And they’re saying it’s from Siberia, that Communist, Arctic zone,
What we’ve got is a Russian plot to make the World it’s ice-cream cone,
Whether we’re gonna get a break, the weatherman will not say,
I took my dog for a walk and he took a crap, you won’t smell it until April or May.

And the same thing happened here last year, but you don’t want to know,
In England people go around wearing raincoats and training shoes in the snow.

It was the coldest day on record, in the coldest week in memory,
It was the coldest month in the coldest year on the coldest night in history,
But don’t ask me just how cold it was, you don’t want to know,
On Centigrade and Fahrenheit it felt way below zero,
I’m talking Centigrade and Fahrenheit, it was way below zero.

Loudon Wainwright III – You don’t want to know (1987)

from the album “Therapy

The Time Traveller : January 25th 1947

The harsh realities of the brutal winter of 1946-47 are chronicled here in a writeup of The Time Traveller clipped from the Northern Echo some time in the 1980s

The churches worry about war-devastated Germany, but most people say that Britain has enough to do in feeding herself. Rationing is worse than in the war – dwindling allowances of basic foods, “points” for others, coupons for clothes and since last July even bread, which has not been rationed before.

We are exhorted to export more, or expect still lower living standards and industry is short of coal. Mr. Atlee’s Labour Government is sadly handicapped in it’s attempt to inaugurate a new era of social welfare and industrial change, including nationalisation of industries like mining, which has been run by a National Coal Board since New Year’s Day.

The Weather looks ominous indeed

Now even the weather looks ominous. Indeed, the last twelve months has been the wettest for a generation, a wintry snap came before Christmas, and the New Year has been very wet; but a very cold easterly air current now covers the country. The first snow fell in midweek – accompanying a forecast of “Bread ration may be cut, less bacon and home meat, beer supplies to be halved immediately” – and today has fallen more generally. Tonight a wintry weekend is setting in.

FA Cup ties were played today in icy winds, and road accidents in one small area of County Durham have included a bus turning over near Bishop Auckland, injuring two of 30 passengers, and a Richmond couple injured when their car collided with a lorry near Bildershaw Bank; and tonight a car and lorry have collided on The Great North Road between Ferryhill and Chilton.

A boy of six and his eight year old sister have drowned in sliding on a frozen pond in Shropshire, and two boys aged eight and fourteen in a Berkshire pond.

Ten feet deep on the North York Moors

By tomorrow night the snow drifts will be six to ten feet deep on the North Yorkshire Moors, along with heavy snow in many other parts of the country, and gales along the East Coast and English Channel, with the wildest day for years in the Straits of Dover, snow on Hastings beach and the heaviest fall for three years at Falmouth in Cornwall.

Despite what it portends, however by Monday the weather will not yet displace such news as the breakdown of Anglo-Egyptian treaty negotiations, and the kidnapping of a judge and an Army officer by jewish terrorists in Palestine. Today, the gangster Al Capone has died in Florida, to which he retired in 1939 after his release from eight years prison for income tax evasion. This is also a weekend of air accidents.

Apart from a Hong Kong report of £1m in gold scattered down a hillside, with a Dakota’s crew of four dead, a Dakota crashed today on take off at Croydon, killing half of it’s two dozen occupants, and a Mosquito came down in a field near Kirkby Fleetham Hall, killing two pilots from RAF Leeming; and tomorrow a Dutch Dakota is to crash after take off in Denmark, killing six crew and sixteen passengers including the eldest son of the Crown Prince of Sweden and film star and opera singer Grace Moore.

A Literary star is to rise in The North East next Thursday with publication of a book of short stories by the young Ferryhill miner Sid Chaplin, who has already received the Atlantic Award for Literature.

The whole country paralysed

By then, the whole country will be paralysed. On Wednesday, there will be 14ft drifts in Essex and 16 degrees of frost that night in London, after gas and electricity cuts during the day, with most of it’s commuters snowbound at home for days to come.

The snow this weekend heralds a nightmare of continuous snow and frost, lack of coal made worse by frozen roads and railways, and colliers stormbound in the Tyne, power stations closing down and, by the end of the week after next, two million people out of work.

Surviving wartime regulations allow the government to fobid electric fires between set hours of morning and afternoon, to ban greyhound racing and suspend television and radio’s Thid Programme, and cut London transport. In the coldest February for over half a century, in snow, in worn clothes and leaking footwear, people are to find themselves trying to revive “wartime spirit” in a “Fuel Dunkirk”, collecting gasworks coke in prams and sacks and queueing for candles. A failure of the national grid and a total blackout will be barely averted in a fortnight’s time.

Slight improvement, then more snow in March

By mid-February, there will be a slight improvement but after a slight thaw and a fog blanket, snow is to return as March comes in, renewing the  nightmare. Much of the land will be under an ice cap of snow old and new – a compacted six feet and more in Upper Teesdale and elsewhere – when milder air begins to creep in from the south west.

As the snow slowly melts, the soil remains icebound, vast lakes spread; and a gale on March 16th – ironically the first day of British Summer Time by the clocks – will precipitate a flooding disaster, while Scotland and Northern England are still an Arctic wilderness, York will see it’s worst flood since 1831.

For nearly eight weeks, snow is to fall somewhere every day, with most of the country snow-covered after this weekend. As April arrives with Easter, there will again be blizzards in the North Midlands and snowploughs out in the Peak District. Some sodden land will not re-emerge until May or June. After that, a hot summer is to bring droughts.

Some photos from Durham on New Years Day 2020

After a late night of revelling, we decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk and get some fresh air. The obvious choice was to head down across the Silver Link Bridge and on into Pelaw Wood, then down to the river and into the City.

It was a nice, crisp winters day, with plenty of sunshine. Durham looked good and everyone seemed in good spirits. We ended up in the Food Pit drinking Americano Coffee. Much needed.

Happy New Year to everyone!

the view from pelaw wood, looking towards Houghall. The silhouette of a large tree dominates the foreground
Looking towards Houghall from Pelaw Wood

 

a view across the river wear from pelaw wood, looking towards durham city and the cathedral in the distance
Looking towards Durham City from Pelaw Wood
picture of dave and debbie on framwelgate bridge with durham cathedral in the background
We finally hit Durham on New Years Day 2020. Where’s the coffee?

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