Meteorology Section Report: 2006-07

By Philip Eden

Data from the Society's automatic weather station has been logged every five minutes without any breaks during the last twelve months, and the requisite summaries have been sent to the Meteorological Office each month and at last we have switched from ink-on-paper returns to electronic returns as from November last year.

In August 2006 the station was visited and examined by the Met Office's official inspector, Mr Stephen Haynes, and instrumental calibrations were checked, and damaged instruments replaced. This inspection is still officially called the "three-yearly inspection" although the last two were in 2001 and 1996.

Monthly reviews of Hampstead's weather have been posted on my website, and linked to from the Society's website, by the 4th of the following month, but I haven't had the opportunity to extend the on-line availability back in time beyond the mid-1950s (where it was last year) during the last twelve months.

Following an earlier contact which had appeared to have been fruitless, I was contacted a second time by Nick Haycock of Haycock Associates in January. They have designed a web-based system for collecting and displaying environmental data for the Hampstead ponds for the City of London corporation, with weather data from the Hampstead Scientific Society being an important element of the display. This system will go live some time in the next two or three weeks. In return for making the data available to this website, Haycock Associates will be paying for the annual service and maintenance of the automatic weather station.

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

SUMMER 2006 was a very strange season. June was dry, warm and sunny; July was hotter than any other July hotter than any other month of any name in Hampstead's records, and as far as we are able to ascertain it was probably the hottest calendar month nationally in over three centuries of records. (It should be pointed out, though, that hotter 30-day periods straddling calendar months occurred in both 1995 and 1976). July was also the sunniest calendar month on record. Hot Julys are normally followed by warm or hot Augusts, but not so last year. The crash in temperature from July to August was the greatest ever recorded between those two months. August was also cloudier and wetter than average with frequent thunderstorms.

AUTUMN 2006 was the warmest on record, not just in Hampstead's 97-year history, but in the national record which extends back to 1659. September broke its record, October was the fourth warmest ever, and November was the warmest since 1994. Rain fell very frequently, and the seasonal total was almost 20 per cent above the long-term average. Nevertheless, sunshine duration was close to the long-term average thanks to a very sunny November.

WINTER 2006-07 was also exceptionally mild the warmest in Hampstead for 32 years. Long periods of southwesterlies, with frequent and often heavy rain, and incessant wind, were punctuated by two or three brief cold snaps. The first of these occurred just before Christmas and brought four days of persistent fog, seriously disrupting holiday travel. The second brought sharp frosts and light snow flurries in late-January, and the third delivered the heaviest snowfall for ten years 8cm deep on February 7th. The season was also enlivened for some by the Kensal Rise tornado on December 7th, and a severe and damaging gale on January 18th.

SPRING 2007 has been a season of contrasts. The first week of March was very wet, but from then until the second week of May hardly a drop of rain fell. April was the warmest on record, and one of the driest and sunniest ever, but May (at least from the 6th onwards) was dull and rather cool with frequent rain. In fact May completely sabotaged the normal seasonal progression, being colder, wetter, and appreciably less sunny than April.

Philip Eden

21 June 2007


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