Some amazing shots this morning of the sunrise from Wharton Park, with Durham Cathedral silhouetted against the fiery skyline. The day soon turned into a blustery one with showers and gusty westerly winds.
Pictures here are courtesy of Kevin Edworthy. Many thanks Kevin for allowing me to use these.
Some nine years ago, we were in the grip of one of the most severe spells of weather to occur in the month of December for over 100 years. Around Durham, snowfall was very deep. Here’s a selection of photos taken by Gary Tidbury of the conditions around Framwellgate Moor in Durham.
A good mate of mine just posted these extraordinary photos on Facebook of an ‘Ice Spike’.
“This morning I had never heard of an ice spike and if I had ever seen one, would have had no idea what it was and shrugged it off as something strange. A post on another site had a photo of one happening in the great outdoors of Northumberland along with an explanation of the strange event. That reminded me that yesterday, in my small beaker used for inaccurate assumptions of rainfall measures, I had noticed a frozen stick shape protruding above the top. It must have been 6-8 cm long. I shrugged it off, wrongly presuming that by chance (a million to one ?) an icicle had fallen from the roof some 4 feet away and several higher and landed, unbroken in the beaker !?! On reading said post, I went outside to find this …”
Once again I have poor weather to report for this month. Particularly, high rainfall totals again and an incredible dullness that depressed. I know that November is sometimes a cheerless month, but this one has been really rubbish. The weather has also been cold, with depressed maxima by day, although not too cold at night until the last few days.
I have had a bad cold for most of November and I blame it almost completely on the rank weather November has served up for us all.
No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
by Thomas Hood
The month was very wet. The total of 129.1mm was just behind the June total for wettest month of 2019. There were 26 days with rain and 6 days had more than 10mm.
The rain put a big damper on the Durham Lumiére Festival with 5.6, 9.5, 13.7 and 2.2mm falling on the four days from 14th-17th.
The total rainfall represents about 200% of what an average November would bring.
Because of all the rain and dullness, November maxima were depressed (like me). The average maximum was 7.5 degC, which is around 2 degC below average. Average minima were around normal at 3.7 degC.
The warmest day of the month was right at the start of the month when a modest 11.3 degC was recorded on the 2nd. The temperature remained below 10 degC from the 4th, and November’s minimum temperature was recorded on the last day, which was very frosty early on. The air temperature was -2.4 degC at 8am.
Some pics from Seaham 27th Nov 2019 (photos courtesy of Paul Levitt)
When December 2010 came along, it was a complete shock to the system. There had been no below freezing December (average below 0.0 degC) since 1890. That’s 120 years. These are temperatures from the CET series (Central England Temperature).
Records in the CET go back as far as 1659.
So, let’s look at those sub-zero December years. The first is December 1676 (mean temp -0.5 degC). Back then, the temperatures were only recorded to the nearest half degree and there aren’t any daily temperatures available to me, so I can’t really embellish that too much other than say, imagine a below-freezing month when there were no heated houses. Brutal stuff.
Next in the list, after a big gap of 112 years, is December 1788 (-0.3). This time, daily temperatures are also available. December 1788 was generally cold throughout, but especially severe from the 12th to 23rd. There was a short milder period lasting only Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, before severely cold conditions returned between Christmas and New Year.
There was only a short few years before the next one in December 1796 (-0.3). This month contained the coldest ever Christmas Day (-10.8 degC). Again, there were two really cold spells : the start of the month until 11th December, and then around the Christmas period (20th-27th). The weather warmed up again towards the New Year.
Moving into the ‘Dickensian’ period, when snowfall became popularised on Christmas cards, the next sub-zero month was December 1874. This month averaged just below freezing at -0.2 degC. The first 13 days were on the chilly side at an average of 2.1 degC, before the really bitter weather set in after that until the end of the year. The period 14th-31st December averaged -2.0 degC, which is incredible for an 18 day period.
Another ‘Dickensian’ winter produced the next cold December, just five years later in December 1878 (-0.3). This month, and the following January produced the third example of consecutive freezing months in the record (after Jan and Feb 1684, Jan and Feb 1740, before it happened again for a fourth time in the winter of 1962-63). In December 1878, the severe spell was in the middle of the month. The period 9th-26th December averaged -2.8 degC. By New Years Eve, it was up to a balmy 10 degC before the January deep-freeze regained it’s grip into the New Year.
And so to December 1890 (-0.8 degC). The last sub-zero December before 2010. The month was severe from the 9th until the year’s end. This period averaged -1.9 degC. The coldest day was 22nd December at -6.5 degC. December 1890 was actually the coldest December on record, closely followed by December 2010 (-0.7 degC).
Coldest December Days (1659 to date)
25th December 1796 -10.8 degC
12th December 1981 -8.5 degC
27th December 1798 -8.4 degC
28th December 1798 -8.2 degC
17th December 1859 -7.7 degC
31st December 1783 -7.1 degC
18th December 1859 -7.1 degC
20th December 2010 -7.0 degC
24th December 1870 -6.9 degC
19th December 2010 -6.8 degC
As can be seen, most of the extreme temperatures fell in the freezing months, the exceptions were in 1981 (a very cold month that just missed out on sub-zero status at +0.3 degC), December 1798 (a short exceptionally cold spell from Christmas Eve to the 29th), December 1859 (a short, very wintry spell between 13th and 19th), December 1783 (very cold after Christmas) and 1870 (very cold in the last third of the month).
December 2010 was arguably the most remarkable of them all, because it occurred during the current warming trend, whilst the others were in the more traditionally accepted Maunder Minimum and Dickensian winters which were much colder on average anyway.
When will the next one be? It may not be in our lifetimes, or it may be in a couple of years, there’s really no way of knowing. However, Exacta Weather and The Daily Express seem to think it will occur every year! 😏
Here’s a graphic released by the Met Office, attempting to illustrate the wet weather we’ve had in the first half of November 2019.
Now, the first half of November has been pretty wet. In fact 85mm of rain has fallen on Gilesgate since the start of November, continuing the soggy 6 months we’ve had.
I looked at the map and was surprised to see that the Durham was in the white area. Usually this means ‘around average’ on Met Office maps. I checked the key and it says that white represents between 75 and 125% of average.
Now this surprised me. The mean for November in Durham is 72mm. So, I would expect the average for the first 17 days to be calculated as
(72 x 17)/30 = 41mm
So, by my calculations we’ve had 85/41 times the expected rainfall for the first 17 days. That feels about right. More than 200% of normal. Yes, it’s been wet.
Why is the graphic not showing the Durham area as Dark Blue on the map then?
Well, i’ve been having the conversation with Liam Dutton, Jen Bartram and a few others on Twitter. The graphic is showing the first 17 days of November 2019 against a whole 30 days of an average November.
What is the point? Well apparently the point is to prove that some areas have had double the rainfall in the first 17 days that November would expect in a whole month.
Does it come over that way?
My point to Liam and Jen is that I don’t think it does. It makes a great swathe of the country look average, or even below average (coloured brown) when we all know it’s been very wet. Liam points me to the small print and says this explains it all.
Isn’t the whole point of a graphic to simplify the message? To make it easy to digest the information they are attempting to put over?
We are living in an age where sadly people misinterpret things if they’re not presented properly. In my opinion, this graphic is confusing and doesn’t convey the message, which should be:
“All areas have been wet, but Nottinghamshire has been excessively wet.”
I don’t think this graphic makes that clear at all. What do you think?
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