Monthly Summary - March 2013

   What difference a year makes. March 2012 was the warmest since 1957 and an early taste of summer and now March 2013 has seen true winter conditions and was colder than both January and February; indeed 2013 is going backwards. However, this 'one warm, one cold' is not that uncommon as there have been many contrasting pairs of Marches, notably 1996-97, 1961-62, 1957-58, 1947-48 and 1937-38. So it certainly isn't odd that a very warm March followed by a very cold one (or vice versa) is abnormal and is actually more common than we might realise.

   With a mean temperature of just 1.65°c only March 1962 (1.6°c) has been colder in a series going back to 1959. Also locally in that same period March has been the coldest month of the year on two occasions, 1962 and 1975 and now only December can realistically prevent a third.

   With very few breaks we had a constant stream of Polar Continental air that originated in northern Russia making it the most 'easterly' March on record. From the 18th onwards in particular, that wind was strong and bitter with a significant windchill.

   The figures for March paint a cold winter's scene: there was one 'ice day' when the temperature remained below freezing for the 24hrs and is a new record for March, snow lay on the ground on 5 days, fell on 15 with sleet on the one. Only one day attained the average maximum for March and frost was ever present with 22 air frosts and 28 ground frosts, another new March record.

   Monthly rainfall at the Enviroment Agency’s rainfall sites in March was, (figure in brackets being the monthly average for 1961-90): Kirkby Thore 32.4 mm (55.1 mm) , Brothers Water 85.2 mm (219 mm) and Nunwick Hall 17.6 mm (60.0 mm) - ‘Data kindly provided by the Hydrometry and Telemetry team of the Enviroment Agency (Penrith)’.

   Here at Maulds Meaburn rainfall totalled 37.6 mm and March was at least a second successive dry month.

   Locally for the 1981-2010 period typical March averages would be: Newton Rigg, mean minimum 2.0°c and maximum of 8.8°c, rainfall of 75.8 mm - Warcop 1.7°c / 8.1° and 66.3 mm - Keswick 2.8°c/9.4°c and rain of 127.8 mm - rainfall at Shap (1989-2012) being 141.1 mm.


   1st - 5th    March began by continuing the dry and settled theme from February with high pressure (HP) to the west of the UK, later in the period becoming anchored over the UK before finally migrating east. In general this resulted in 'cloudy but bright' conditions drawn in on a SE'ly (initially northerly for 1st-2nd) with the best of any sun usually coming during the afternoon.

   This actually meant that we had just seen a 'Dry Spell' of 20 days for the 14th February to the 5th with just 1.4 mm of rain recorded in that period.

   Day-time temperatures through this period were average for the time of year at just above 8°c, but on the 5th when the cloud cleared and the afternoon was gloriously sunny we had a month's high of 12.4°c (54.3°f), but this was the only day in the month to attain 10°c. However, air frosts were also recorded for the first six days of the month.


   6th - 9th    As the HP migrated east low pressure (LP) moved in from the west and this brought some rain, but also maintained a cool ESE'ly flow. Whilst rainfall totals were insignificant the cloud was persistent and the days were murky and dank.

   The 9th began the change to something much colder as the wind backed to a brisk and especially cold E'ly and the day-time temperatures were now noticeably tumbling.


   10th - 14th    A cold front plunged south on the 10th and this brought significantly colder air behind with wintry showers and that E'ly wind (Polar Continental air) was bitter cold and the temperature plunged even lower!

   At numerous sites the day-time maximum on the 11th was a new record low for March, here at Maulds Meaburn peaking at just 0.5°c (32.9°f), but that record would only last a matter of days!

   The 11th had also seen us wake to a blanket of snow (average depth of 2 cms) with further snow showers during the day and with that low temperature and the E'ly wind, the windchill was significant and barely rose above -5.0°c all day. The snow was brought courtesy of a deep LP over France and with that feed of cold E'ly winds.

   Then from the 12th the HP over Scandinavia and LP near Iceland drew down air of Arctic origin which was actually that bit warmer than the easterlies coming from Scandinavia. Through this period the frosts overnight were especially keen and -5.8°c (21.6°f) was a new low for March at this site and was actually recorded on three separate nights (11th, 12th and 14th) with a ground frost of -9.5°c overnight 13/14th.


   15th - 21st    The LP that had been over Iceland now slipped south and became dominant during this period and whilst bringing some milder air temperatures remained lower than average.

   The wind swung back to SW'ly having seen that anomalous E'ly flow to date and then followed a couple of wet days, 14+17th both with 5.4 mm being the month's wettest days. As the cold front attached to that LP cleared south on the 16th showers followed behind in an unstable airflow and due to HP over Europe and a wave that developed on that cold front, the LP became stuck over the UK with its progress east stalled.

   But some of the precipitation was wintry, but fell mainly during the nights and from the 18th the wind swung back to an E'ly. Finally this period ended with a fine sunny day on the 21st as that LP weakened, but now winter returned with a vengeance.


   22nd - 23rd    An active frontal system pushed northwards during 21st-22nd, increasingly coming into contact with the block of unusually cold air that was in place across northern Britain, fed in on that E'ly. The front then become slow-moving during 22nd (Friday) and brought some significant snowfall for some 24 to 36 hours causing disruption to travel and with several roads blocked.

   However, the snow was more pronounced through the Lake District, south and west Cumbria, with drifts several feet high and yet some areas around Penrith were left wondering what the fuss was all about.

   Here at Maulds Meaburn we had a slight cover of 1 cm at 0900 hrs and snow fell all day and through the following night, but still only totalled 2cms on the morning of the 23rd. But the cold on the 22nd was extreme. The easterly wind gusted to 40 mph, causing drifting with windchill a significant factor and with a maximum temperature of -0.1°c (31.8°f) is both the lowest March maximum and the latest (Spring) day to record an 'Ice day' on record.


   24th - 31st    HP over Scandinavia once again built and the feed of cold easterlies continued unabated to the month's end thus ensuring that there was no progress to something resembling Spring.

   Apart from the 30th daytime temperatures stubbornly remained below 5.0°c and every night from the 21st recorded an air frost as that HP blocked everything from the west.

   At the end of the month that HP became established over Scotland and the winds became lighter and with it the nights colder. The month ended with its coldest night and a new March record low of -6.9°c (19.6°f) and ground frost of -10.3°c - quite something for the end of March.


   AND FINALLY    Just because last year's warm March was succeeded by a cool, wet summer don't think that after this year's cold March we will now have a hot, dry one - the statistics do not bear this out at all.


   Rainfall totalled 37.6 mm for the month, with rain recorded on 14 days of which 11 were 'Wet days' (1.0mm +).

   The Mean Temperature for the month was 1.65°c      --      The Mean Max' was   4.92°c     --      The Mean Min'   -1.63°c.

   We had 22 Air Frosts in the month (year 58)              --      Grass frosts totalled 28 (year 74).

   The 1 foot soil temp ranged from a low of 3.0°c on the 14th         to      a high of 4.8°c on the 8-9th     --      with a monthly mean of 3.8°c

   The 1 meter soil temp ranged from a low of 4.7°c on the 1st-2nd, 26-27th and 29th      to      a high of 5.3°c on the 11-12th      --     with a monthly mean of 4.9°c



   * March 2013 rainfall was 53.7% of the March average for 2008 - 2012

   * March 2013 was 3.85°c colder than the March average for 2009 - 2012 and 3.8°c colder than the local long term average 1981-2010

  * The 3 month mean for January/February/March 2013 is                   TEMP'     2.36°c         --          RAIN    176.7 mm

* January/February/March 2012 was TEMP'     5.04°c -- RAIN    159.7 mm

* January/Febraury/March 2011 was TEMP'     4.32°c -- RAIN    377.2 mm

* January/February/March 2010 was TEMP'     2.18°c -- RAIN    140.6 mm

* January/February/March 2009 was TEMP'     4.24°c -- RAIN    299.3 mm

* January/February/March 2008 was TEMP'     -- RAIN    450.8 mm



JANUARY 2010    FEBRUARY 2010    MARCH 2010    APRIL 2010    MAY 2010    JUNE 2010    JULY 2010    AUGUST 2010    SEPTEMBER 2010    OCTOBER 2010    NOVEMBER 2010    DECEMBER 2010   

JANUARY 2011    FEBRUARY 2011    MARCH 2011    APRIL 2011    MAY 2011    JUNE 2011    JULY 2011    AUGUST 2011    SEPTEMBER 2011    OCTOBER 2011    NOVEMBER 2011    DECEMBER 2011   

JANUARY 2012    FEBRUARY 2012    MARCH 2012    APRIL 2012    MAY 2012    JUNE 2012    JULY 2012    AUGUST 2012    SEPTEMBER 2012    OCTOBER 2012    NOVEMBER 2012    DECEMBER 2012    SUMMER 2012    REVIEW OF 2012   

JANUARY 2013    FEBRUARY 2013   

   © Darren Rogers 2012

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