River Wear burst it’s banks : this time it’s 1950

Discovered this one today, via Facebook (credit Julian Harrop and the Beamish Archive). It shows a guy cycling through floodwater in 1950 (unknown exact date). The riverside was a bit different then. The bus shelters can be seen to the right of the photograph (Gypsy Queen, Diamond and Hammel bus stops).

Some of the worst floods ever in Durham were in 1793 and 1903. Here’s some data for the 1903 episode.

8th October 1903

Extensive flooding on Tyne, Wear and Tees and also on some smaller tributaries with much urban flooding especially in Sunderland (Details from Echo not provided since it is a prolonged rainstorm.) A depression moving from the Bristol Channel to the Wash brought heavy rain to NE England accompanied by an E to Se gale especially around Newcastle giving rise to floods and interruption of telegraphic communication. Totals decrease inland. Tees flooded in many places including the roads at Croft and Neasham. Yarm was flooded for the first time in 11 years affecting High Street and the Skinyard. Widespread floodplain flooding.

Rainfall: Heavy continuous rain; Middlesbrough Albert Park 2.29”; Middlesbrough Ormesby 2.81” (1.95” in 12 hours); Stockton Rimswell 2.30”; West Hartlepool 2.90”; Hurworth Burn 3.45”; Hart resvr 2.45”; Durham Observatory2.51”; Waskerley Resvr 2.52”; Smiddy Shaw Resvr 2.67”; Seaham Dalton PS 3.14”; Fencehouses 3.25”; Seaham Harbour 2.48”; Ryhope PS 2.84”; W Hendon 2.59”; Sunderland Fever Hosp 2.72“; Claxheugh Grove 3.03”; Sunderland The Cedars 2.94“; Newcastle Clifton Rd 2.67”; Newcastle Lit & Phil 3.66”; Newcastle Northumberland Rd 2.29”; Newcastle Claremont Rd 2.68”; Newcastle Leazes Pk 3.25”; Newcastle Town Moor 3.68“; Jesmond Welburn 3.34”; N Shields 2.58”; Tynemouth 2.50”; Angerton Hall 2.69”; Morpeth Bothalhaugh 3.22“; Morpeth Longhirst 3.45”; Cockle Park 2.87”; Cragside 2.58”; Alnwick Castle 2.68”
Source: BR; Sunderland Daily Echo Oct 9

– from Chronology : NE website

18th May 2013 – A very wet day with flooding

May felt disappointing although in fact mean air temperature was just a little above average; daytime temperatures were just a little above average and night-time temperatures just a little below. Rainfall was well above average so that the running 12-month total remained above 1000mm for the 6th month in a row, a remarkable sequence. There were heavy falls on the 15th (21.4mm) and especially on the 18th (40.8mm), the latter causing extensive flooding in the Durham area. Rainfall intensity was extraordinary on the morning of the 18th with 12.2mm in one hour (08:00 – 09:00 BST) and 10.2mm the next hour.

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University


Very wet 2 day period – August 9th+10th 2004

After a really warm night on 9th August (minimum was 19.9 degC) at my station in Ferryhill, the next two days were extraordinarily wet. In fact the whole month was a soggy mess and about as bad as a month can get in summer.


9th   August 37.2mm
10th August 30.4mm

Two consecutive days with > 30mm of rain is a fairly rare event in the North East of the UK.

The 10 Highest readings for Daily Rainfall,
between 1/1/1996 and 31/8/2004.

Figures in mm

1 74.6 27/7/1998
2 37.2 9/8/2004
3 36.2 2/8/2002
4 31.9 2/11/1998
5 31.8 25/6/1997*
6 30.4 11/8/2004
7 29.8 7/11/2000
8 26.4 20/8/2004
9 26.2 30/6/1997*
10 25.0 3/6/2000

*0900-0900hrs, all others 0000-0000hrs

(Produced at 00:01 on 31/08/2004. Database: Ferryhill).

Summary of August 2004 from Ferryhill

From the Ferryhill Weather Station

August 2004

August 2004 will long be remembered for it’s extreme wetness. Seven inches of rain fell on Ferryhill during the month and some of the North East of England had much more than that. Nationally, it was the flash flood at Boscastle that caught the eye, a place we’d recently visited.

There were 3 very wet periods which yielded much of the total.

9th – 12th August : 80.6 mm
18th – 20th August : 51.6 mm
23rd – 24th August : 22.2 mm

Some of the rainfall was torrential, with localised flooding a regular occurence where drains couldn’t cope with the water. Farmers also had a problem with harvests as most fields were too wet to bear the weight of the harvesting equipment and crops had been flattened by the heavy rain. I have to say i’ve never seen a month quite like it.

From the Newton Aycliffe Weather Station

Temperature wise, a month of two halves, the first half of the month seeing maximum temperatures above 20C most days, also with exceptionally warm nights, temperatures rarely dipping below 15C during most nights.  The average minimum temperature of 13.2C was considerably warmer than the 1971-2000 Durham average of 10.6C.

Because of this, the mean temperature was pushed up to 16.4C, which is 1.3C above the 1971-2000 Durham average. The second half of the month was noticeably cooler and fresher. The warmest temperature recorded was just 26.0C (78.8F) on the 8th. We also had a record high night time minimum, where the temperature fell no lower than 18.3C (64.9F) in the 24 hours up to 9 am on the 9th August. The coldest temperature recorded was 7.2C (45.0?F) in the early hours of August 22nd.

The weather was very unsettled throughout the month with several bands of persistent heavy rain passing through the area. The month was also duller than average according to other local stations.

One thing August 2004 will be remembered for is the incredible amount of rain that fell. This was not just the wettest August recorded in North East England, but several locations recorded their wettest month EVER. The rainfall total for Newton Aycliffe was a staggering 210mm!! That?s by far and away a rainfall record for this location.

Compare the reading of 210mm this month to the 30 year Durham average of 61.3mm and it gives you an idea of just how wet this month was. Rainfall above 1mm was recorded on 15 days, compared to the 9.2 days that you might expect. The daily rainfall record was broken with 45mm recorded between 9am August 9th and 9am August 10th. A further 27mm was recorded in the following 12 hours, giving a 36 hour rainfall total of 72mm. The month was also unusually humid, with an average 9am humidity reading of 91.4%

To summarise, a warmer than average month, although that was exclusively down to warm nights rather than warm days, which was dull, unsettled, incredibly wet, and humid.

NB. I notice Copley has recorded 250mm this month

Heres a list of rainfall totals for the month that I can find on the net….

In the lead with 250mm Copley!!

Bear in mind that Copley is high altitude and would presumably be wetter than other lower locations. Also, its a Met Office official climate station with extremely accurate recording equipment.

The best of the rest. Bear in mind that these are all AWS weather stations probably with varying degrees of exposure to the rain gauge…..

Oakerside, Peterlee….220.0mm
Newton Aycliffe…..210mm
Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough…..158mm

Comments from Tim Burt at Durham

Comments on August 2004
August was a warm but very wet month. Mean air temperature was 1.6°C above average, lower than last year, but still 11th highest since 1850. Mean minimum temperature was 2nd highest on record since 1950. The minimum on the night of the 8th / 9th was 16.8°C, a remarkably high value, and the next night was only marginally cooler. For the summer as a whole, an average temperature of 15.2°C places 2004 as the 14th warmest on record since 1850, following last year’s record breaker.

Most remarkable was the rainfall, more than twice the monthly average. The total of 156.8mm is the 6th highest for August since 1852, exceeded only in 1917, 1927, 1878, 1986 and 1956 (the August record with 175.7mm). The total of 52.2mm on the 9th was only the 14th daily total at Durham since 1881 of 50mm or over. 72.2mm fell on the 9th and 10th, associated with a decaying hurricane, and altogether 88.4mm fell in four days (9th – 12th). There was also a daily catch of 25mm on the 19th. For the summer as whole, it was the 11th wettest on record (289.6), and the wettest since 1997. 1867 holds the summer rainfall record with 383.4mm; summers tended to be relatively wetter in the late 19th Century. Not surprisingly, long-term totals are now well above average, and the 12 – month running total is the highest since October 2001.


Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

Trevor Harley’s British Weather

August. The wettest August since 1956. There were over 300 mm of rain at Shap. As there was a heatwave at the start of the month, and some very warm nights, it was also, perhaps surprisingly, a hot month overall (17.7C CET). There were some heavy thunderstorms at the start of the month. 31.5C was then recorded on the 8th at Northolt. The 8-9th was very warm in the south; at Marham (Norfolk) the minimum was only 21.7C. The 9-11th saw some exceptionally heavy rain in central and southern Scotland and northern England. Aberfeldy saw nearly 150 mm in three days. We tried going to Edinburgh, but everywhere was flooded so we gave up. There was some excep[tionally heavy rain in Cornwall on the 16th (some parts saw 75 mm in 24 hours; and Otterham had 200.4 mm in 24 hours, with 197 mm in 4 hours and nearly 100 mm in an hour) led to exceptionally severe flash-flooding and destruction in the Boscastle region. Heavy rain in central Scotland led to a mudslip on the A85 and A84 near Lochearnhead on the 18th that buried several cars. Lancashire was affected by some very heavy rain on the 19-20th, with flooding: 23 mm fell in an hour early in the morning of the 20th at Hazelrigg. Overall it was the most thundery month since June 1982, and the most thundery August since 1960.