The Met Office's automatic weather station (hereafter called the AWS) has functioned continuously throughout the year, with the sole exception of the rain-gauge which was out of action for three weeks during the driest part of the spring; it took three weeks before anyone spotted there was a problem because there was simply no rain at all during that particular period. But it does emphasise the value of having a traditional manual rain-gauge on site as well as the automated version.
The overlap continues between the old AWS and the new AWS, so our own automatic station continues to function. The ideal time scale for the overlap is 5% of the station record for long-standing sites, and never less than two years for shorter-lived sites. So that means ideally five years for us, although if the old AWS fails before that period is concluded I shan't ask for another overhaul.
Monthly reviews of Hampstead's weather have been posted on my website, and linked to from the Society's website, usually by the 5th of the following month, and the summaries extend back to the mid-1950's. The intention remains to extend the data online further and further back as and when time permits.
Let me now briefly summarise the weather we've experienced during the last year.
SUMMER 2010 began well with a warm, dry, and very sunny June, and the dry and warm weather (though with less sunshine) continued for most of July. August, however, was a dead loss ... the coldest for 17 years and the wettest for six. Taken as a whole, though, the summer quarter was the warmest since the hot summer of 2006.
AUTUMN 2010 started well and finished badly (which is exactly what I wrote last year as well). Most of September was fine and dry with several warm days. There were five days of rain straddling the switchover from September to October, though it then turned a bit colder. November was a month of extremes ... an exceptionally warm start, and an exceptionally cold finish.
WINTER 2010-11 was a season of contrasts. We all remember December's frost and snow ... it was the coldest December in the entire Hampstead record, and probably the coldest in the London area in general since 1890. But the severe weather relaxed immediately after Christmas, January was an average month, and February was very mild. All three months, however, had a marked shortage of sunshine, and the winter quarter was, overall, the gloomiest at Hampstead since that of 1971-72 ... 39 years ago.
SPRING 2011 was exceptional ... the warmest in the entire Hampstead record (and indeed the warmest by some margin in the whole of the Central England Temperature record which extends back 353 years), the driest for 21 years, and the sunniest for 16 years The centrepiece, of course, was April which was, by a wide margin, the warmest on record. But, as I've said before, dry springs are often followed by wet summers.
Philip Eden 16 June 2011
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Last updated 22-Apr-2012