Meteorological Section 1997-98

The Meteorological Secretary was pleased to report another satisfactory year, as far as our meteorological section is concerned, with one proviso, that the Met Office are intending to withdraw our grant. He thanked the member who had made over 35% of the observations during the year. We have now completed 88 years of daily weather recordings at the Observatory, and although the station at St James's Park (of those still running in the London area) has a longer record, having begun in 1896, it also has substantial breaks in that record during the 1970s and 1980s. We can therefore with some justification claim to have the longest unbroken record of weather observations in London.

Our ambition of installing an automatic weather-station at the observatory during our centenary year is on course, thanks to donations as well as the regular grant received from the Met Office. This new equipment will allow us to monitor temperature, humidity, rainfall, ground temperature continuously, with the option at a future date of installing sensors for barometric pressure and solar radiation. The data will be downloaded via a laptop computer and stored on disc. The ability also to monitor a variety of atmospheric pollutants is also very important; at the moment the conventional technology for this is extremely expensive and also extremely bulky, but the expectation is that smaller and cheaper pollution monitoring sensors will become available in the next few years. The Secretary had every confidence that we would be in a position to install and commission the station by the end of 1999.

The Secretary then reported on the weather of the last twelve months.

SUMMER 1997 was very mixed. June was exceptionally wet, and also cool and dull ... at Hampstead the month's rainfall total of 106mm was almost double the long-term mean, and of that 106mm, 89mm fell during the last 12 days. July was a warm changeable month with the temperature exceeding 24 degrees on 11 days. August was outstandingly hot and humid - second only as far as mean temperature is concerned to 1995 in our records. The temperature reached at least 24 degrees on 20 days, with 28 degrees or more on 10 days.

AUTUMN 1997 was a warm season. September was exceptionally dry with only 10mm of rain, about 15% of the long-term average. The main features of October were a very wet second week and a very warm third week when the temperature reached 22 degrees on the 18th and 19th. A notable maximum of 15 degrees was recorded on November 16th.

WINTER 1997-98 was mild and changeable. Rain fell frequently though not excessively until mid-January but the second half of the winter was dry and February brought a mere 8mm of rain. Very high temperatures were noted in each month ... 14 degrees on December 10th and 11th, and again on January 9th, and a remarkable 18.3 degrees on February 13th - a new February record at Hampstead.

SPRING 1998 was wet but rather warm. April was particularly wet with 109mm of rain, over twice the normal amount, and snow fell during a brief cold spell which coincided with the Easter holiday. The main feature of May was a fortnight of warm dry weather mid-month with 24.4 degrees recorded on 15th.



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Last updated by Julie Atkinson   18-Aug-2002