Meteorology Section Report: 2017-18

By Trevor Law (Met. Sec.)

The Society maintained a Met Station at the Observatory, providing a continuous record from 1910 to 2016. Of recent years the equipment was owned and run by the Met Office but this was dismantled and removed when Thames Water undertook their work on the site. Limitations on the placing of materials and equipment prevent what we had from being simply put back. The fundamental problem is a membrane that Thames Water have installed less than a foot underground – and it mustn't be touched in order to preserve its integrity. The standard pattern Stevenson Screen on the other hand has legs that go some way into the ground so it won't be blown over in the first decent gale. Liaison with Thames Water and the Engineering Department of the Met Office has so far proven inconclusive.

We are looking into providing our own Weather Station, perhaps fence mounted and provided with a data link, so we can resume meteorological records once more and submit them to, for example the Climatological Observers Link, Weather Underground or the Weather Observers Website.



A year ago today (21st June 2017), temperatures reached 33°C at Northolt and 34.5°C at Heathrow and it was the warmest day of 2017. To show the capriciousness of our Weather, the following week, after a dramatically wet day on the 27th June, the 28th had a top temperature of just 15°C! The week after that and the temp on the 6th July was back up to 31°C and that was the last time we saw 30°C, though it looks on the cards we'll get that again in the next week or so.

Later in July we had average to cool weather, which continued into August, which was also rather dry, except for the 9th. We were lucky to get a nice Bank Holiday, as have been 2 out of the 3 so far this year, the exception of course being Easter.

September was disappointing, with a cool first half. Highlight of October was Storm and ex-hurricane Ophelia, which clobbered Ireland but we'll remember as the Day of the Red Sun. This was due to a combination of smoke from wild fires in NW Spain and N Portugal and Saharan dust, all having been swept north on the eastern flanks of the storm.

Bonfire night bought us the first frost, though it was a close shave in a couple of nights in late October. The last frost was 28-29th March, though we escaped one by the skin of our teeth overnight 2nd-3rd May.

November had quite a high number of rain-days (17) but was nonetheless recorded as fairly dry.

December bought us the first snow on the 9th, during a cold snap. As so often happens around Christmas, a mild spell started on the 20th, coming to an abrupt end on the 27th, though the New Year bought a return of milder weather.

January was very average, tending to be cool early and a little milder later. It was notably windy 2nd-4th and 17th-18th.

February had a mild spell mid-month and a very cold spell at the end, starting on the 24th. This was the famous "Beast from the East". It produced the coldest weather of the winter, with widespread frost and snow. Minima went below -5°C on the 27th-28th and 28th-1st March and it stayed below zero from the evening of 27th Feb to the evening of 2nd Mar.

Another cold spell, with snow, arrived on the 16th Mar and continued till the 20th.

Early April continued the cool, unsettled theme of March that had so much delayed the onset of Spring, then bang, around the 18th – glorious warm, sunny weather. It reached 28°C on the 19th, the highest April temperatures since 1949. The air was notably dry, with afternoon Relative Humidities below 30%, so whilst the days were warm, the nights weren't.

Cool again in late April and into the first few days of May but it rapidly became warm and sunny once more, reaching 28°C by the 7th. The second half of the month was dominated by NE'ly winds – but as Europe had warmed up by then, our weather remained warm. The last weekend of the month was notable for spectacular thunderstorms, with over 50,000 strikes recorded over England on the Saturday night and a storm that developed NW of London on the Sunday evening went on to cause flash flooding in parts of Birmingham.

The NE'ly type continued into June, until reverting to a W'ly on the 12th. An anticyclonic type is now developing. This month has been notable for its lack of rainfall and may well become the driest June on record.


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Last updated   15-May-2019