Meteorology Section Report: 2004-05

Philip Eden (Meteorological Section Secretary)

It’s been a year of quiet consolidation for the meteorology section … there have been no problems with the Automatic Weather Station which has continued to function satisfactorily. Data has been logged every five minutes without a break, and the usual monthly summaries have been despatched to the Meteorological Office. We have now completed 95 years of unbroken records.

We can never get through a year, though, without one drama or disaster, and this year it happened within the Eden household last October when I had a catastrophic hard-drive failure on my computer and, as Sod’s Law dictates, only part of my backup was up-to-date. Among those things which were lost forever were the original page drafts for the Hampstead metereorological web pages. Since then I have caught up with where I was at this point last year, plus the pages for each of the last twelve months, but I have not extended any further back into history the data online. Nevertheless, monthly summaries of Hampstead data is available online from 1961 to date. The remainder will come in dribs and drabs over future years.

I now perform incremental backups to my system at least one a week, and I usually advise everyone I meet to do the same.

Let me now summarise the weather we’ve experienced during the last year.

SUMMER 2004 was, well, the word I use is “indifferent”. There were lengthy warm periods in early-June, late-July and early-August, but there were cool interludes too, and it was a very wet summer with a shortage of sunshine. It will be remembered nationally for the Boscastle disaster, and also for landslips in central Scotland, several other short-lived flooding episodes elsewhere, and some dramatic thunderstorms. At Hampstead it was the wettest summer since 1977, and the ninth-wettest in 95 years of records, but it was – and this always amazes everyone I tell – one of the warmest summers in that period; in fact there were only eight warmer. That, of course, is part of the upward trend in temperature which has been so apparent since the late-1980s.

AUTUMN 2004 was mixed … the three months were dry, wet, dry, and warm, cool warm. Arguably the best weather of the year came in the first 10 days of September which were warm and sunny, with low humidity levels, and therefore much more comfortable than the humid heat which had characterised July and August.

WINTER 2004-05 was dry, and although some people might think it was cold, it was actually only the second half of February that saw consistently below-average temperature. January had, in fact, been warmer than any other January for 15 years. But after mid-February northerly and easterly winds set in and delivered the longest period of wintry weather that we’ve seen for almost a decade.

SPRING 2005 continued the dry weather. There has now been a shortfall of rainfall for eight successive months, and that is why the water companies have begun to make noises about potential water shortages later in the summer. May brought several night frosts, something we have not seen since 1996, but it also brought the highest May temperature, on the last Friday of the month, since 1947.


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