Monthly Summary - January 2015

   January was a contradictory month and one of contrasts, for at times we had spells of very mild and wet weather, followed by cold and wintry conditions. However, overall, in terms of temperature, it all ended very average, but rainfall was certainly plentiful during the first half of the month and above average for January. There were two separate wintry spells, 16th-23rd and 28th-31st and with snow lying on the ground on eleven days, January will be remembered more for the first wintry blast since March 2013.

   One curiosity this month is that we had more of everything than in the whole of 2014: colder minimum and maximum temperatures, more snow, more fog* and a wetter, 'wettest' day. But the overall effect was to maintain January's position as both the coldest and wettest month of the year.

   MSLP of 1007.9 Mb was -4.2 Mb below average and despite the wintry feel in the second half of the month it was still a dominant south-westerly month.

   Overall a mean minimum of 0.83°c and a mean maximum of 5.71°c saw the temperature the same as the 1981-2010 average, making it the coldest January since 2013. The highest maximum temperature recorded was 13.1°c (9th), the lowest minimum -5.2°c (18th).

   At Newton Rigg (Penrith) in a complete series back to 1952, a mean temperature of 3.65°c makes this January the equal 23rd warmest, ie: 22 have been warmer, 39 colder and 2 have had the same mean temperature.

   Rainfall of 202.1 mm (Crosby Ravensworth School 227.9 mm) made it the driest January since 2013 and here at Maulds Meaburn was 134.3% of average for 2008-14 which was fairly typical at other local sites. At Newton Rigg (127.8 mm - Met' Office gauge) in a series back to 1914, 24 January's have been wetter (0 year of incomplete data).

   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 88.8 mm (70.1 mm)

   Brothers Water 557.3 mm (277 mm)

   Nunwick Hall 115.0 mm (76.6 mm) and

   639.0 mm at Seathwaite Farm (Borrowdale - 338 mm).


  1st - 2nd    The year started on a wet note and the 1st with 34.9 mm of rain was actually wetter than any day of 2014. A series of weather fronts moved through in quick succession and the 1st saw that rain and wind, become progressively heavier and stronger. The wind continued through the night into the 2nd and as the fronts cleared away we fell into a brisk and cold westerly that gave some brightness.


  3rd - 5th    High pressure (HP) then built from the south, but which was always slipping away over the continent, but still the next few days were much quieter. The 3rd started quite dark with light rain as an occluded front pushed south-east out of Scotland, but as the HP became more influential the temperature dipped, but the sun came out.

   Overnight 3rd/4th saw a hard frost at -3.4°c, but which was a fine day and by the 5th the HP was virtually clear of the UK allowing a more south westerly flow to become dominant, starting with some light rain later on the 5th.


  6th - 15th    It then became quite unsettled with spells of heavy rain and strong winds, but at times, very mild. A succession of deep and vigorous low pressure systems (LP) built in the Atlantic and moved north-east, each passing just to the north of Scotland. The associated wind and rain had significant impacts in Scotland, but less so further south, although gusts over 50 Mph were recorded on six days during this period.

   Rain of 33.5 mm fell on the 7th, which became heavier as the day progressed as a cold front passed through and despite reaching 10°c it felt cold. The next few days saw the LP systems building and tracking north of Scotland, tending to be at their worst overnight. After a fairly decent day on the 8th, rain arrived late in the evening and it was both wet (9.9 mm) and stormy overnight.

   The 9-10th saw a repeat with yet another new LP system following a similar course, but the 9th was incredibly mild at 13.1°c (55.6°f) and the warmest January temperature recorded at this site, but it was also wet with 20.5 mm of rain.

   As an occluded front cleared east on the 10th colder air followed behind and the temperature only rose to 5.4°c, but the day remained stormy with some showers of hail and snow in the afternoon. By the 11th the fronts had cleared away east and the wind returned to south-westerly and the temperature rose during 11-12th.

   The 13th saw some wintry showers due to trough lines circulating in an unstable south-westerly flow and further wintry showers overnight into the 14th saw the day start with snow 2 cms deep. But whilst the 14th saw further wintry showers, another deep and vigorous LP system was brewing in the Atlantic and which brought heavy rain in the evening and overnight into the 15th. That rain was virtually torrential after 2300 hrs, finally abating at 0130 hrs, but with winds gusting to 57 Mph you possibly had a bad night's sleep!


  16th - 22th    The period was the first true spell of winter since March 2013 and whilst the snow was never too heavy or deep, it hung about. The Jet Stream weakened and diverted south of the UK, putting us into a colder airflow and snow fell on every day during 16th-21st, lying on the ground for 17th-23rd.

   Moderately heavy snow fell overnight into the 17th to leave a covering of 3 cms, but in a broad area of low pressure with a north westerly flow the days saw a mix of wintry showers and sunny intervals.

   Night-time frosts became common with -5.2°c (29.1°f) the month's coldest night recorded overnight into the 18th and the days were also much colder with the 19th only peaking at 0.9°c.


  23rd - 27th    It then became a little mixed, some milder days, followed by a cooler day, then a milder day and so on. A series of fronts brought 5.1 mm of rain on the 23rd, but under a ridge of HP the 24th saw plenty of sun.

   As the HP drifted away on the 25th, milder air saw the temperature rise and the 25-27th were generally cloudy with any rain falling overnight.


  28th - 31st    And then we were truly spoilt with the return of wintry conditions, as once again the Jet Stream veered south. As an occlusion followed by two cold fronts cleared east on the 28th, a colder westerly regime was introduced, becoming north westerly later in the period and snow was frequent. The 28th saw some heavy snow showers throughout the day and evening with more overnight into the 29th. This saw a level depth of 6.5 cms on the morning of the 29th and the subsequent closure of Crosby Ravensworth School for the day.

   The 29th saw more heavy snow showers in the morning, but in the afternoon the sun shone bright, perfect really for those with a day off from school!

   We were now sat within a slackening area of LP that would fall as low as 973 Mb, but despite this the winds were light and the 30th also saw plenty of sun and the temperatures rallied a little after a cold start of -3.4°c.

   Centres of low pressure were over the Isle of Man and just off Norway, with the latter filling and tracking south west. Its associated occlusion brought a spell of light snow late on the 30th and into the early hours of the 31st, but which was fairly insignificant.

     * 'Day of Fog' - when, for whatever reason (smoke, fog, snow, etc) the visibility at 0900 GMT is less than code 4 - the 16th and 28th both class as a day of fog due to heavy snow falling at this time.


   Rainfall totalled 202.1 mm for the month, with rain recorded on 24 days of which 21 were 'Wet days' (1.0mm +).

   The Mean Temperature for the month was 3.27°c      --      The Mean Max' was   5.71°c     --      The Mean Min'   0.83°c.

   We had 12 Air Frosts in the month (year 12)                  --      Grass frosts totalled 21 (year 21).

   The 1 foot soil temp ranged from a low of 3.0°c on the 21st-24th        to      a high of 6.6°c on the 10th     --      with a monthly mean of 4.5°c

   The 1 meter soil temp ranged from a low of 5.5°c on the 24-28th     to      a high of 7.0°c on the 1st and 4-5th     --     with a monthly mean of 6.3°c



   * January 2015 rainfall was 134.3% of the January average for 2008 - 2014

   * January 2015 was 0.4°c warmer than the January average for 2009 - 2014 and exactly the same as the local long term average 1981-2010



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   © Darren Rogers 2015

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