Monthly Summary - February 2018

 Cold, wintry at times with heavy snow and severe cold at the month's end when the 'Beast From The East' dominated

  Winter made a comeback in February. It was truly a winter's month.

  Apart from one brief mild interlude 16-19th, it was consistently cold throughout. Whilst it maybe remembered for the cold easterlies and heavy snow at the month's end, frosts were frequent and the period around the 7th was also bitterly cold. Despite the comeback of winter though and snow having fallen on a good number of days, it was often light and inconsequential and then because the month only has 28 days the event at the month's end actually had a greater impact come the start of March.

  February became the fifth coldest of any month in my records and whilst cold, when compared to months such as March 2013 and January and December 2010, it still lags some way behind in the 'most memorable months'. Rainfall was frequent upto the 19th after which with high pressure taking control, it became dry until the snow arrived on the 26th.

  During the month, there was: one 'Ice Day' (28th), snow fell on 14 days and was lying on the ground (to a depth of at least 1 cm) on 4 days (6-7th and 27-28th).

  MSLP of 1014.6 Mb was + 0.7 Mb above the local average for February mainly due to the spell of high pressure at the month's end. The main unsettled period of the month being the 9-15th.

  Overall a mean minimum of -1.16°c and a mean maximum of 4.94°c saw the temperature 1.74°c below the 1981-2010 average. It was the coldest since 2010 and of the ten now recorded, one has been colder and eight warmer. The highest maximum temperature recorded was 11.0°c (19th), the lowest minimum -8.0°c (7th and 28th).

  Rainfall of 89.6 mm (Crosby Ravensworth School 92.3 mm  -  Castlehowe Scar 133.5 mm  -  Reagill 73.9 mm) was 101.5% of average for 2008-17 and made it the driest February since 2016. Of the eleven now recorded, seven have been drier and three have been wetter.

  Locally, rainfall percentages varied quite widely (but the final totals will have been affected by several factors: (i) unmelted snow remaining in automatically read gauges after the 28th, (ii) snow having been blown out of gauges and (iii) gauges buried in drifting snow or level snow in excess of 30cms deep (but which would remain unmelted on the 28th) - however, the Lakes and further west showed falls below the average, whilst further east the avergaes tended to be well above average, both Kirkby Thore and Haresceugh Castle had over 130% of normal.

  At the Met' Office site at Newton Rigg, 60.6 mm (81.6%) made it the driest February since 2015 and in a series back to 1900, February has been drier in 55 years and wetter in 62 years (1yr of missing data). A mean temperature of 2.15°c is the coldest since 2010 and in a series back to 1954, 15 have been colder and 49 have been warmer.

  Figures from the Environment Agency’s rainfall sites were, (figure in brackets being the monthly average for 1961-90)   ‘Data kindly provided by the Hydrometry and Telemetry team of the Environment Agency (Penrith)’:

  Kirkby Thore 66.4 mm (48.7 mm)

  Haresceugh Castle (Kirkoswald) 76.11 mm (56.6 mm)

  Brothers Water 144.24 mm (192 mm) and

  Orton (Shallowford) 97.0 mm (139.3 mm [average for 1967-2017])

  224.8 mm at Seathwaite Farm (Borrowdale - 272 mm [average for 1981-2010])



  Here at Maulds Meaburn the winter of 2017-18 has offered spells of cold and wintry weather and in comparison to recent winters, it has certainly felt more like a proper winter. However, it is only due to the notably cold February that the average temperature for the season fell below average.

  December may not have too much snow and ended up fairly average, but it did fall cold on several occasions, notably from the 8th which saw the temperature fall to -9.5c on the 11th. January was that bit warmer than average and did not have any particular cold spell, but did manage one wintry spell 17th-21st when snow lay on the ground for all five days. February was consistently cold and will be remembered for the 'Beast from the east'.

  In what was a fairly average winter for rainfall, that locally saw all months notching up totals close to or slightly above average, Maulds Meaburn recorded 329.4 mm of rain (Crosby Ravensworth 369.5 mm). This makes it the fourth driest in my records and is just 78.6% of the rainfall for those ten previous winters (those sites with longer records [30 yrs] have averages much closer to normal).

  A mean temperature of 3.04°c is the coldest since 2012-13 and the fourth coldest of the nine now recorded. It was 0.49°c colder than the average of those previous eight winters.

  At Newton Rigg rainfall totalled 264.2 mm and had a mean temperature of 3.13°c. In comparison to the 1981-2010 averages this represents 94.1% of winter rainfall and is 0.3°c colder than average.

  This makes the winter of 2017-18 the 54th wettest in a series back to 1900-01 (1 yrs of missing data) and in a series back to 1953-54 it is the 30th coldest. In the much longer series back to 1900-01, but with 8 missing years, it would be the 41st coldest.



  1st - 7th    Low pressure (LP) in the North Sea near Denmark drew down a cold Arctic flow at the start of the month, easing slightly, although remaining cold on the 2nd as a ridge of high pressure moved across the UK

  However, the days saw plenty of sunshine and this at least saw the temperature hold up reasonably well. A frontal system on the 3rd brought a brief spell of snow first thing in the morning before turning to rain and after those fronts had cleared away, HP now became established. Whilst HP was still in the Atlantic, it was HP ridging down from Norway that first took control.

  This resulted in day-time temperatures tumbling to 1.5°c on the 5th and which created a pool of cold air that saw a period of light snow overnight into the 6th. This was courtesy of fronts arriving from the Atlantic pushing into that cold air already over the UK. The snow that fell had a level depth of 2.5 cms and there was further snow throughout the morning with the day then being bitter cold, only peaking at 0.9°c (33.6°f).

    Midnight 6th -   Frontal system moving into the cold air over the UK resulting in a spell of light snow 

  Once those fronts had cleared the UK it was now the HP in the Atlantic that ridged in. This saw the skies clear and there followed a very cold night with the mercury falling to -8.0°c (17.6°f) with a grass frost of -10.5°c. It was still -7.0°c at 0900 hrs, but the 7th started cloudless and would be a fine, sunny day, warming up sufficiently to thaw the snow that had seen us just manage to hang onto another day of lying snow.


  8th - 15th    A succession of LP systems brought a more unsettled theme with spells of rain and wintry showers with temperatures remaining below average.

  Drizzly and grey on the 8th although the temperature (6.4°c) did reach the average for February for the first time. Numerous fronts had been over the UK during the 8th and these brought more rain and some snow overnight into the 9th, but as the fronts cleared the UK a strong ridge of HP built briefly, ensuring a sunny day. Clear skies gave a slight frost during the evening, but another frontal system arrived overnight into the 10th bringing a mix of sleet, but mainly rain.

  After a lull during the day, the evening saw rain and strong winds as the fronts finally cleared east. The next few days saw some sunny intervals but in a NW'ly flow the temperatures once again took a slight dip.

  That flow turned SW during the 12th as another LP system made towards the UK, arriving overnight into the 13th and bringing a spell of heavy rain (9.9 mm credited back to the 12th). This rain had been forecast to fall as snow, turning to rain later as the LP system moved NE across the UK. That amount of rain, falling as snow, would have been a deep blanket come the morning, however, the rain turned to snow for a hour at mid-day before the afternoon saw some decent sunny spells.

  Those clear skies allowed the temperature to drop to -2.6°c overnight into the 14th, but yet another LP system was making quick progress towards the UK and this one did bring a spell of snow. However, none settled and it became short lived as come the afternoon it soon turned to rain, giving a final total of 17.8 mm, the month's heaviest fall.

  As those fronts cleared a more showery regime followed and which saw frequent hail showers during the 15th as once again day-time temperatures struggled


  1200 Hrs 15th -   Fronts have cleared the UK with a showery, wintry regime following  


  The 16th saw the Met' Office issue a news release stating "There is increasing confidence that the recent Sudden Stratospheric Warming above the North Pole could lead to prolonged cold conditions over the UK, increasing the risk of easterly wind and significant snow. ... there is an increased risk of cold conditions in the latter part of February, including the possibility of heavy snowfall ... A SSW implies around a 70% chance of cold conditions across the UK. There tends to be a lag of about 10 days before we see the downstream effects on the UK’s weather ..."

  Did it happen?


  16th - 19th    The one mild period during the month.

  HP in Biscay elongated over northern Europe which saw a SW'ly flow across its top edge and the subsequent rise in temperature. Those temperatures were actually only the seasonal average at first, 6.5°c, higher on the 18th at 8.2°c, but by the 19th they reached a month's high of 11.0°c (51.8°f).

  The occasional front moved across the UK, bringing a little rain, but this was mainly of an evening or overnight, apart from the 19th (the warmest day) which was grey and dank during the morning before brightening slightly in the afternoon.


  20th - 28th    The 'Weather' part of the month - this is when the prediction by the Met' Office of a particularly cold period came to pass.

  And it did get cold with significant frosts, and a whole lot of snow. However, a major part of the event would be reserved for March.

  However, the transition to the really cold temperatures was a gradual process as both the 20th and 21st still saw maximum temperatures at 9.0°c. Initially HP in the Atlantic built then moved north across the UK, became dominant and then continued north into Denmark then Norway come the 23rd, but still ridged down strongly over the UK. Those above average temperatures of the 20th-21st would quickly start to drop away as the HP left the UK and began to introduce an ESE-E'ly flow as it did so.

  The air drawn over the UK on that E'ly originated in Siberia and it was this pushing into the UK that brought such low temperatures. The 21st may have been mild by day, but it did start with an air frost and now frost would be our constant and faithful companion.

  However, with that cold came some decent amounts of sunshine and the days were also dry. It wasn't until the 26th when we had our first few fleeting flakes of snow, but overnight into the 27th saw a period of snow that left a cover of 3.5 cms.

  Trough lines began to circulate within the airflow and it would be these that would bring the snowfall. The 27th saw further snow showers throughout the day and now that E'ly wind was really begin to bite, feeling somewhat raw with a maximum temperature of 0.9°c. And now for February at least, the 28th would be the 'weather day' of the month. There had been further and steady snow during the evening of the 27th, but which fell heavier during the early hours of the 28th. This left a cover of 13 cms come the morning and now the local roads only became passable in 4x4's and the school would be closed for the next three days.

  Apart from the heavy fall of snow it had also been very cold overnight, the temperature falling away to -8.0°c (17.6°f), the joint coldest night of the month along with the 7th. However, the day would certainly be the coldest of the month and the first day in ten years of records to record an 'Ice Day' in February. A maximum temperature of -1.3°c (29.7°f) felt more like -11.0°c in that brisk E'ly and despite a perfect sunny afternoon it was still a case of 'best indoors'.

  Snow would return in the evening and the start of spring on the 1st was to be another interesting day.


Surface pressure charts, 24th (left) and 27th (right)

high pressure had built in the Atlantic and moved north across the UK, finally drawing down the cold Siberian winds and plenty of snow.



February Rainfall Anomalies %                                                                                    February Temp' Anomaly   



   Rainfall totalled 89.6 mm for the month, with rain recorded on 20 days of which 17 were 'Wet days' (1.0mm +).

   The Mean Temperature for the month was 1.89°c      --      The Mean Max' was   4.94°c     --      The Mean Min'   -1.16°c.

   We had 17 Air Frosts in the month (year 26)                --      Grass frosts totalled 23 (year 41).

   The 1 foot soil temp ranged from a low of 2.6°c on the 28th        to      a high of 5.4°c on the 20th     --      with a monthly mean of 3.6°c

   The 1 meter soil temp ranged from a low of 5.1°c on the 28th      to      a high of 6.5°c on the 1st     --     with a monthly mean of 5.6°c



   * February 2018 rainfall was 101.5% of the February average for 2008 - 2017

   * February 2018 was 1.74°c colder than the February average for 2009 - 2017 and 1.7°c colder than the local long term average 1981-2010





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The Oldest Inhabitant    An Inch Of Scotch Mist   


© Darren Rogers 2010-18

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