August 2020 Monthly Weather Report : Good start, poor end

Durham Weather : August 2020

Synoptic chart showing low pressure on 25th August 2020

The weather in Durham in August 2020 was disappointing overall after starting out really well. It was typical of the summer really. There were no long settled spells as such at Durham, although some very warm weather was experienced in the south of the country, culminating with 36.4C recorded at Heathrow and Kew Gardens.

The 11th August (mean 24.0 degC) and 12th August (mean 25.1 degC) were the warmest recorded for those particular dates on the Central England Temperature series.

Thunderstorms were extensive across the country after that, but we escaped most of them in Gilesgate, although there were some near misses, with torrential rain.

It was actually pretty dry up to the 17th (12.2mm, 8 days with rain). The temperature reached 28.0 degC on the 7th, which averaged 21.3 degC. This was the high for the month.

Then from 17th it turned really wet and temps declined markedly, with 22.8mm on 17th and rain every day from the 13th to 30th.

The last week of the month was very wet, with 12.5mm on 23rd, 12.8mm on 25th, 13.8mm on 27th and 29.8mm on the 28th August. There was a cloudburst in Durham on Sunday 23rd which dropped 9mm in 10mins in the early afternoon. This was right in the middle of the wet spell.

Here is the chart for Tuesday 25th August. It was very wet and windy. The pressure was very low for August, falling to 986.4mb and the northern flank of this depression gave us the heavy rain driven in from the East.

This last week has become progressively colder and wetter, culminating in 13.8mm on 27th and 29.8mm on 28th. Total for the month is now 127.1mm .

Maximum temp on the 28th was only 13.5 degC with a keen NE wind. The 29th was cooler still at 12.7 degC.

As is frequent in August, the last few days can be quite cool, and the monthly minimum was 5.3 degC on the morning of 31st. This was a really nice late summers day.

Monthly graphic of rainfall and temperature at Durham August 2020
Monthly graphic of rainfall and temperature at Durham August 2020

 

Monthly summary of temperature at Durham in August 2020
Monthly summary of temperature at Durham in August 2020

 

Summary of rainfall in Durham August 2020
Summary of rainfall in Durham August 2020

 

Summary of atmospheric pressure at Durham August 2020
Summary of atmospheric pressure at Durham August 2020

 

View across Durham on the last day of the summer 2020
View across Durham on the last day of the summer 2020

 

Durham Castle and Cathedral from The Riverwalk
Durham Castle and Cathedral from The Riverwalk on last day of summer 2020

 

Sunset over the North Sea 31st August 2020
Sunset over the North Sea 31st August 2020

July 2020 – Disappointingly dull with no real summer weather

July 2020 – Disappointingly dull with no real summer weather

July 2020 can best be described as ‘disappointing’. The hottest part of the year never really got going in Durham. It took until the 12th July for the 20 degC mark to be breached for the first time. When it did, it stayed in the lower 20’s. The only day it crossed the 25 degC threshold was on the last day which was phenomenally hot.

At 31.0 degC, the last day made it into the history books as the 3rd warmest day on record Nationally. The temperature rose to 37.8 degC at Heathrow Airport, just falling short of last July’s all time record. It is unusual for such a hot day to stand in isolation. Normally hot days develop as heat builds over a period of time, each day hotter than the last. Not this one. The max for the 30th was only 19.9 degC and the following day, August 1st only got to 22.3 degC. This day stands out like a sore thumb in the record. If I didn’t know any better I’d suspect it as an error, but it wasn’t, it was just stinking hot.

Photos from the hottest day of July 2020

Durham Cathedral and the Fulling Mill

Boating on The River in Durham on the hottest day of the year

The rainfall total wasn’t anything to write home about either. Rain on 20 days meant that the longest dry spell was only 3 days, between the 19th and 21st. The wettest day of July 2020 was 23rd. The total of 13.9mm wasn’t exceptionally high, but the overall feeling was of a month that never really dried out. There was an outbreak of thundery rain on the 31st as the hot weather departed. The total of 62mm was pretty average for July.

Although I don’t record sunshine totals at Gilesgate, my feeling was of lack of sunshine. Several days were just cloudy and overcast, when normally we’d expect the sun to break through the cloud at some point in the day. I think sunshine totals from elsewhere will confirm my feelings on this.

Atmospheric Pressure was mainly anticyclonic, as we’d hope for in July, but always seemed to be in the ‘wrong’ place for us, resulting in a predominance of winds from the SW-NW quarter. Quite strong winds at times too, with gustiness a feature. That’s not what we really want or need in July is it?

 

 

June 2020 – First half cool, Second half very warm

Temperature

Overall, June was warmer than average, but there was a very cool wet spell in the first half of the month. The mean max was +1.1 degC above normal and the mean min +2.0 degC above.

Between the 3rd and 12th, the maximum temperature was only 16.1 degC (9th) and fell to as low as 5.5 degC on the morning that same day. A very cold day for June. It was also wet (see below).

Temperatures recovered strongly after the 14th, peaking on the 24th at 29.7 degC. In some areas of the country it was the warmest for that date, beating the record set in 1976. From the 23rd to the 26th it averaged over 20 degC in Durham. Very sticky sleeping conditions.

The second half of the month was very warm and pleasant.




Rainfall

After a very dry spring, June returned to the type of previous years, particularly in the first half.

83.1mm fell in the cool spell between 3rd and 13th. This made up most of the monthly total of 100.9mm. That’s getting on for double the normal for June. There were 19 days with rain overall during the month.

The wettest day was the 12th with 29.2mm, but  the previous day was also wet with 17.0mm, giving a 48hr total of 46.2mm. Most of that total seemed to be absorbed by the very dry ground – the river didn’t rise much at all.

Atmospheric Pressure

The month was mainly anticyclonic again, but there were some very stormy high winds in the cool spell in the first half and at the very end of the month too.

March 2020 Report – A strange month indeed!

March 2020 came in like a lion, with strong winds continuing to batter the country due to the proximity of low pressure systems. This was pretty much the theme of the winter, but at least the extreme wetness and flooding that we experienced in February abated.

The month actually ended up being very dry when compared to the March average. Only 21.9mm of rain was recorded, the majority of which fell in the second week. The wettest day was the 11th; 7.1mm fell. By the end of the month the soggy ground had managed to dry out nicely from the previous month’s waterlogged state. There were 13 dry days, which is OK for March.

Temperatures were unremarkable for March, but did peak out at 18.1 degC on the 25th (the one standout day). The mean maximum was 10.3 degC and the overnight minima were still on the chilly side, with 3 air frosts recorded on the 5th, 6th and 20th. The mean minimum was 2.8 degC and the absolute minimum was -1.9 degC on the 6th.

The lowest atmospheric pressure was recorded on 1st of the month. This was in the wake of Storm Jorge. 973.4mb was a very low value, but not unprecedented. There was a strong rise in pressure from mid-month, reaching 1049.9mb on the 29th, the second month this year we’ve come close to 1050mb (January was the other). The High Pressure was mainly in the wrong place for extreme mildness though, and cold blustery Northerlies were a feature of the last few days, with dew points remaining around freezing.

Although it came in like a lion, March left us in a shellshocked state as a National lockdown due to Coronavirus COVID-19 confined people to their homes. This is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, so it is hoped the later Spring months will at least allow us all to enjoy some time in our gardens as the days grow longer and warmer.

 




February 2020 Monthly Report – Wet and Wild

There was a very wild start to February, although it was relatively mild.

Storm Ciara over the weekend of 8th/9th brought damaging gusts and flooding. The worst of it passed to the South of us, but there was major flooding in Yorkshire and winds gusted to 93mph in Wales.

The River Wear rose dramatically during the morning of Sunday 9th to peak at 3.05m late on the evening, flooding riverside paths.

Wintry showers on 10th-12th. Snowfall for the Midlands, Scotland and Pennines 15-20cm on high ground. Severe drifting on high ground.

The next storm (Storm Dennis) arrived on 15th/16th and was similar to Ciara. The river in Durham peaked at around the 3m mark again and the wind was very strong from the West. It stayed above 3m for many hours this time, with riverside flooding again causing problems. Once again, the south of the country was hit hard, particularly South Wales.

Some snow arrived in Durham late in the month on the 24th, but it lasted less than a day. From waking to a 2” covering on the morning, it had all gone by mid-afternoon.

The third and last big storm of the month (all at weekends!) was Jorge, named by the Spanish Met Office which duly arrived on the 29th (Leap Year this year).

People around the Ironbridge area in Shropshire are in a desperate situation with flooding on the River Severn. There was also extensive flooding in Yorkshire around the Doncaster area.

The mean temperature for February was 5.4 degC by the traditional method of max+min/2 method. The highest absolute maximum was 10.5 degC during the passing of Storm Ciara. There were no air frosts at all recorded during the month.

The 9th was also the wettest day with 23.0mm of rain recorded. We also had yet another monthly total over 70mm in the last 12 months (this was the 7th time). The final total was 88.4mm.

On the last day of February, the barometer fell to 970.9mb during the passing of Storm Jorge (named by the Spanish Met Office). Heavy snow fell on the Pennines and there was a report in the Northern Echo about people being rescued from their cars in the Upper Teesdale area.

There were only 5 days that could be described as anticyclonic. Four of these were in the first week.






January 2020 weather – Mild and Dry

The recent trend has been that winter months have been on the dry side. January 2020 was very much in that vein. It was also very mild for first week. On the 8th/9th there was overnight snow in the High Pennines, although only rain fell elsewhere. This was heavy in places. This was actually the wettest day in Gilesgate, Durham, with 13.6mm of rain recorded, the wettest day since 19th November last year.

It was very mild and wild on the 11th, and the strong winds continued until the 13th/14th as a depression passed through, with some snowfall in Scotland and some of the higher ground in the North. Still nothing in Durham.

From 16th the High pressure began to build and by the 19th of January an atmospheric pressure of 1048.9mb recorded in Durham. It’s rare to get anywhere near 1050mb, even in winter. Nationally, it was the highest barometric pressure since 1957. The official record wasn’t broken however, this remains as 1053.6mb, recorded at Aberdeen on the last day of January 1902.

On the 23rd of January the region was awoken by an Earthquake of magnitude 2.8 (on the Richter Scale) recorded on Teesside just before 6am. Some local wags reckoned it had done several million pounds worth of improvements.

Late in the month on 27th/28th there was snowfall in Northern Ireland and W Scotland from a Polar Maritime returning airstream behind a depression. The High Pressure was gone and we were back to wild and windy weather as the Jetstream powered up again. It became very mild again as the month closed.

The rainfall total was surprisingly low at only 31.4mm. There were 15 dry days, which is good fot January. This was the second winter month in a row this has happened. It’s quite welcome after the wet June-November spell last year.