Meteorology Section Report: 2007-08

By Philip Eden

Data from the Society's automatic weather station has been logged every five minutes without any break during the last twelve months, and the requisite summaries have been sent on-line to the Meteorological Office each month. There have been no breakages, and the equipment continues to function satisfactorily. However, the manual rain-gauge is now showing signs of age and is beginning to deteriorate, and a new one will be sought from the Met. Office during the coming year.

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.

The Society has assisted a company of civil engineers called Haycock Associates establish a web-based system for collecting and displaying environmental data in respect of the Hampstead ponds for the City of London corporation. In return for an on-going supply of weather data from our site, the City of London will be paying (through Haycock Associates) for the annual service of our automatic weather station.

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

SUMMER 2007 will be remembered nationally for the widespread and repeated flooding episodes which engulfed especially Yorkshire, the north Midlands, and the floodplains of the rivers Severn and Avon, and also the upper and middle Thames catchments, during June and July. The only serious flooding in London occurred on July 19 and 20, but this was largely the result of surface flooding following a heavy downpour which lasted no more than four hours - the lack of maintenance of drains, culverts, and other drainage channels, together with the conversion of front-gardens into hardstanding for vehicles, is as important a contribution as the actual rainfall to this type of flooding. At Hampstead, June was the wettest only since 1999 and July only since 1988, while August was actually the driest for four years. Taking the season as a whole, it was the wettest summer since 1997, the coolest since 1993, and the least sunny since 1998.

AUTUMN 2007 was a very dry season, though it was neither particularly warm nor particularly sunny. Overall, it was the coolest autumn since 1998 and the driest since 1997. The sequence of dry months actually began in August and ended in December, and in fact that 5-month period, August to December, was the driest such since 1947.

WINTER 2007-08 brought alternating periods of mild rainy weather, and sunny frosty weather, but warmer periods were much warmer than the colder periods were cold, if you see what I mean. Overall, it was not quite as warm as winter 2006-07 but it did rank second-warmest in the last 10 years. The aggregate number of sunshine hours of almost 250 contrasts with the long-term average of 170, so almost 50% above normal, and it was the sunniest winter on our 98 years of records.

SPRING 2008 was often rather cold until the beginning of May, and there were some notable snowfalls over the Waster Weekend, and again during the first week of April, but May itself was the warmest since 1992. In fact, May was the first month warmer than its namesake the previous year for a whole year every single month from May 2007 to April 2008 inclusive had been colder than its equivalent the previous year.

Philip Eden 19 June 2008


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