Monthly Summary - March 2016

  Overall an average month, marginally cooler and with rainfall exactly on average - wet at both end's, but notable for a 15 day drought 9th-23rd.

   After a cool first third of the month, part of which was under an Arctic airflow and thus wintry in nature, March progressively became a little warmer. And after virtually incessant rainfall since the end of October, we finally had a month, which whilst having average rainfall, actually had more days without rain than days with. High pressure became dominant from the 10th, remaining in control until the 23rd in which time we had a 15 day 'Absolute Drought' when no measurable rain was recorded and which also brought some sunny days.

   However, March was, on the whole, very average, but with Easter falling early this year (25-28th) it had the misfortune to immediately follow the drought and experienced a break down in the weather that saw the Saturday become the month's wettest day, with showers and sunny intervals on Easter Sunday.

   MSLP of 1014.0 Mb was +1.5 Mb above the local average for March with low pressure affecting both ends of the month, but high pressure was truly dominant during that prolonged dry spell.

   Overall a mean minimum of 1.37°c and a mean maximum of 8.76°c saw the temperature 0.3°c below the 1981-2010 average and made it the warmest March since 2014. The highest maximum temperature recorded was 12.8°c (14th), the lowest minimum -3.2°c (8th).

   Rainfall of 73.0 mm (Crosby Ravensworth School 75.9 mm - Castle Scar 81.0 mm and at Reagill, 93.0 mm) made it the driest March since 2013 (both the 5th driest and wettest (!) of the 9 recorded by myself) and here at Maulds Meaburn was 99.9% of average for 2008-15.

   At the Met' Office site at Newton Rigg, 57.6 mm (76%) made it the driest March since 2013 and in a series back to 1900 56 have been drier with 59 wetter (1 year of missing data). In a complete series back to 1952, a mean temperature of 5.1°c is the warmest since 2014 with 36 having been warmer and 28 colder in that time.

   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 42.6 mm (55.1 mm)

   Brothers Water 100.66 mm (219 mm)

   Nunwick Hall 42.0 mm (60.0 mm) and

   174.8 mm at Seathwaite Farm (Borrowdale - 319 mm [average for 1981-2010])


  1st    A frontal system brought rain overnight into the 1st (but credited back to 29th Feb'), which cleared during the morning, although the day remained dull and damp with a few showers, but at 10.8°c it was mild.


  2nd - 7th    We then came under the influence of a cooler Arctic airflow that brought a more wintry feel. Low pressure (LP) would remain over or near the UK throughout the period, later broadening out, although with the occasional weak front bringing some snow and/or rain.

   An occluded front overnight 1st-2nd moved south over the UK and brought a spell of snow that saw the 2nd start with a 1.5 cm cover with further snowfall for the first part of the morning, although this would soon peter out. The winds turned NW'ly and now the day-time temperatures became pegged within the range of a cool 5-6°c.

   Heavy rain of 19.3 mm overnight 3rd-4th came as LP moved west-east over the UK with its associated occluded front pivoting through the north-western half of the UK. As the LP moved out into the north sea it continued to pull down Arctic air and that rain turned to snow.

   The pressure gradient now broadened and slackened resulting in lighter winds and we now saw a succession of overnight frosts.


  8th - 9th    The 8th started with a month's coldest temperature of -3.2°c (26.2°f) before an occlusion associated to LP near Iceland arrived from off the Atlantic. This only brought some occasional light rain, but both days stayed cloudy throughout.


  10th - 23rd

   High pressure (HP) would then become dominant for a considerable period and finally we had an extended dry spell, in total, 15 days without any rain, by the end of which the ground was almost dry!

   The HP initially built over Scandinavia, taking a few days to become firmly established before migrating south then west and south again to end the period lying to the SW of the UK. We saw a mix of fine sunny days and those that just stayed cloudy all day and typically what you had first thing in the morning was what you kept for the rest of the day. If you got to see the sun, the temperature rose above 10°, but if you kept the cloud all day, then temperatures tended to stay below that mark.

   The best spell of sun and warmer temperatures came during the 13-15th brought by a SE'ly flow as the HP sank down into the North Sea. Each day attained 12°, the 14th topping out a month's high of 12.8°c (55.0°f). Slightly cooler on the 17th, but this was also a lovely sunny day and by now the HP had migrated over into the Atlantic.

   But then apart from the 20th, the accent was more on cloud with the days becoming a little bland before the HP finally gave way in time for Easter!


(Left) Mid-day 12th                                                                                (Right) Mid-day 15th   

The high pressure as it built, initially over Scandinavia and then moving west. Later in the period it had ventured to the SW of the UK.



  24th - 29th    And of course once a 'drought' is attained the next thing to happen is that it rains! The HP gave way to a frontal system from off the Atlantic, although the 24th only saw 0.6 mm of drizzle - the 24th also saw my observation bunch of daffodils bloom.

   Under a ridge of HP the 25th was then a reasonable day with more sunshine, although blighted by a cool wind. But then LP took charge. A system (965 MB) lay out in the Atlantic, but a new centre developed just SW of Eire and tracked north with its associated cold fronts bringing a spell of heavy rain and strong winds in the afternoon and evening of the 26th, the month's wettest day with 24.7 mm.

   The rain continued overnight into the 27th clearing to showers and sunny intervals as the frontal system connected to the LP that had been out in the Atlantic now arrived. A new area of LP, storm 'Katie' developed quickly 27-28th to the Sw of the UK, but its path was NE through Cornwall and up through the Midlands, exiting out into the North Sea, with the main affects felt to the south of its centre. Pressure still dropped to 979.8 MB but for Cumbria it was just a cool and windy day.

   In a slackening pressure gradient the 29th saw a further 10.0 mm of rain in the form of heavy showers, some containing sleet, brought on various trough lines.


  30th - 31st    The month finished quieter as first the pressure gradient slackened and then a ridge of HP built from the SW. We managed to avoid any showers on the 30th and then 31st after a starting with a frost enjoyed some sunny spells.


March Rainfall amounts %                                                                    March Temp' Anomaly   



   Rainfall totalled 73.0 mm for the month, with rain recorded on 11 days of which 8 were 'Wet days' (1.0mm +).

   The Mean Temperature for the month was 5.06°c      --      The Mean Max' was   8.76°c     --      The Mean Min'   1.37°c.

   We had 10 Air Frosts in the month (year 31)                --      Grass frosts totalled 21 (year 59).

   The 1 foot soil temp ranged from a low of 3.1°c on the 1st        to      a high of 7.2°c on the 23rd     --      with a monthly mean of 5.5°c

   The 1 meter soil temp ranged from a low of 5.3°c on the 1st - 3rd and 5-10th      to      a high of 6.9°c on the 27-30th     --     with a monthly mean of 6.0°c



   * March 2016 rainfall was 99.9% of the March average for 2008 - 2015

   * March 2016 was 0.17°c colder than the March average for 2009 - 2015 and 0.3°c colder than the local long term average 1981-2010



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