Meteorology Section Report: 2005-06

By Philip Eden

It’s been another 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 96 years of unbroken records.

Following last year’s hard-drive failure and the loss of some data, the data logger and the web pages are now backed up regularly – at least once a week – and no further disasters have happened.

During the last year I have extended the archive pages back a few years, and annual summaries back to 1955 can be accessed, with 1954 soon to go up. There are very few weather station sites on the internet with more than ten years’ data online, let alone the 50-plus years that we have. My intention is to complete the online archive back to 1910 in time for our weather station’s centenary.

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

SUMMER 2005 was another indifferent one, but – as we have come to expect for most seasons these days – it was a warm summer; that is, its mean temperature was above the mean for the standard reference period 1971-2000 by about a degree. There were, nevertheless, lengthy cool periods during early-June and late-July, but lengthy warm spells (I hesitate to call them heatwaves) characterised the second half of June, the middle of July, and both mid and late-August. It was slightly drier than average, while sunshine duration was close to the norm.

AUTUMN 2005, some people say, never happened. Summer seemed to go on for ever, and September and October together comprised the warmest such pair by a long way in the entire Hampstead record. The warm weather continued until mid-November, at which point winter arrived with sharp frosts, thick morning fogs, but also abundant sunshine. November was among the three sunniest on record at Hampstead, but nationally it was the sunniest of in 130 years of records.

WINTER 2005-06 was the subject of much speculation, the Met Office predicted with much trumpeting that it would be colder than average, and their press office foolishly warned us to be prepared for much snow and ice (that was not what their forecasters were predicting). In the event the mean temperature for the entire season was exactly equal to the 1971-2000 norm, although it was the coldest winter for nine years – a measure of the warmth of recent winters rather than anything else. It was also a very dry winter, fuelling the water industry panic over impending shortages.

SPRING 2006 was a season of contrasts. For three weeks March was very cold and dry, but the ending was warm and wet. It became dry again for much of April and the first half of May – the first half of May was actually the warmest such for 61 years – but that was all forgotten when the rains came mid-month and the second half was the wettest since 1979. In spite of the dry periods, the entire spring quarter was the wettest since the year 2000.


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