Monthly Summary - May 2020

 Very dry and sunny - cool start, warm end.

    May might not have been quite as good a month as April, but it was still very favourable and most notable for being dry and very sunny and having a quite glorious final week.

  The first half of the month was fairly cool with ground frosts being common, the final total (11) being above average for the month. After some rain on the 1st apart from a few bits 'n' bobs, the next meaningful rain during the month fell on the 22nd. During a colder snap 11-15th the lowest May temperature at this site was recorded.

  After a more changeable period 16th to 23rd which brought that rain later in the period, it was a case of increasing temperatures and virtual wall to wall sunshine with the final four days especially magnificent.

  MSLP of 1021.7 Mb was +6.8 Mb above the local average for the month and overall a mean minimum of 4.80°c and a mean maximum of 16.54°c saw the temperature 0.31°c above the eleven year average for this site.

  It was the warmest since 2018 and of the twelve now recorded, seven have been colder and four have been warmer - the highest maximum temperature recorded being 24.8°c (29th), the lowest minimum -3.5°c (14th).

  Rainfall of 25.5 mm (Crosby Ravensworth School 25.0 mm - Castlehowe Scar 42.8 mm) was 42.9% of average for 2008-19 and made it the wettest May since 2018. Of the thirteen now recorded, three have been drier and nine wetter.

  During the month the following was recorded: hail on one day (1st). A mean wind speed of 8.19 mph was brisk and the maximum gust of 54 mph (22nd) was only the second time to have exceeded 50 mph in my records.

  At the Met' Office site at Newton Rigg, rainfall of 27.0 mm (48.1%) was the driest since 2017 and in a series back to 1900, 13 have been drier and 107 wetter.

  A mean temperature of 10.99°c is the warmest since 2018 and in a series back to 1900 (3 yrs in which data is missing), 80 have been colder and 23 have been warmer.

  With 26.7 mm (47.6% of average) Appleby in Westmorland had its driest May since 2018 and its 28th driest in a record that commenced in 1857 and at Seathwaite Farm it was the 26th driest in a record that commenced in 1845.

  It goes without saying that rainfall percentages across Cumbria were once again very low this month, typically in the range of 30-40%. However, Orton experienced a heavy fall of rain on the 1st (21.2 mm) which resulted in its average fall being bumped up to 66.6%.

  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 ** mm (48.0 mm)

  Haresceugh Castle (Kirkoswald) 24.41 mm (61.1 mm)

  Brothers Water 42.24 mm (138 mm) and

  Orton (Shallowford) 58.0 mm (87.1 mm [average for 1967-2019])

  68.6 mm at Seathwaite Farm (Borrowdale - 169 mm [average for 1981-2010]).

  ** not available due to faults with the gauge


  General Synoptic Report for the Month

   At the start of the month a low pressure (LP) system from the end of April was slow to clear to the NE and this saw some rain (4.8 mm) on the afternoon of the 1st; initially this contained a little hail, but like the rain, was relatively short-lived.

  The 2nd saw LP surrounding, but not over the UK, allowing for some decent sunny spells, following which high pressure (HP) would build in the Atlantic and slowly move east, which by the 6th was in the North Sea and dominant. We would enjoy decent amounts of sunshine, but with day-time temperatures slightly below average, becoming cool at night with a couple of frosts 5-6th.

  The HP slipped further east on the 7th and this allowed an occluded front laying through Eire to skirt the UK and turn a sunny start into something greyer with a little light rain (0.3 mm). Through to the 10th the UK generally sat within slack pressure with both low and high pressure nearby, neither managng to assume control. However, the 10th would once again begin to see HP assume control. That HP was sitting out in the Atlantic with the UK and its eastern edge and during the 10th a cold front pushed down from the north and behind it introduced a strong and chill Arctic flow. Both by day and night temperatures took a dip, the 10th itself being especially cold at just 8.3°c.

  Those cooler conditions saw some quite low night-time temperatures and whilst we avoided air frosts, ground frost was recorded every night during the 11-15th. However, the 14th would become the coldest May night in my records. The HP had now sunk south, now positioned in the Atlantic with a slight NW'ly flow and with clear skies the temperature soon dipped, falling to -3.5°c (25.7°f) with a ground frost of -6.4°c - cold for May.

  Day-time temperatures were also suppressed, ranging 10.6°c (13th) to 14.9°c (17th) and there was also more in the way of cloud during this period as the HP sank further south with the airflow now coming from the west.

  Up to the 19th the mean temperature for the month was somewhat suppressed, but apart from a blip 22nd-24th (but which brought much needed rain) the month, like May 2018, would now become much warmer and from the 27th, very warm and sunny.

  An unseasonal deep area of LP began to build in the southern Atlantic from the 20th and would gradually move N-NE during the next few days, tracking to the west of Eire 22nd and moving over the Faroes 23rd. Its associated fronts pushed up across the UK in the early hours of the 22nd, giving 10.3 mm (credited back to the 21st), and then another 8.1 mm on the 22nd with further spells of light rain and showers.

  With HP now building once again in Biscay, this put the 'squeeze' on the LP and it also became quite stormy, gusts of wind up to 54 mph being recorded on the 22nd and a mean wind speed of 20.6 mph for the whole of the 23rd - the rain was much needed, but now once again it would become settled, dry and very warm and sunny.

  That HP in Biscay would steadily push north, becoming dominant over the UK 27th before drifting out to the east and pulling up a warm southerly airflow and with it a couple of warm days. The HP would then move to NW Norway and whilst remaining warm and sunny, the wind backed slightly to the east and the temperature whilst dipping, was still warm, but now pleasantly so.

  It was a case of a steady increase in the temperature, just short of 20°c on the 26th, hitting that mark the day after and then rising to high of 24.8°c (76.6°f) on the 29th. The 25-27th had been decent enough although with variable amounts of cloud, but these final few days of the month basked in glorious sunshine.

  Whilst the final two days of the month saw a slight dip in the temperature (22.3°c and 23.3°c) these two days were still lovely and sunny - and in many ways better, the heat being far more bearable!



  Across Cumbria the season will be remembered for being very dry and sunny - after a wet first half to March (which saw the month finish wetter than average in spite of no rain falling in the final 14 days), the rest of the season assumed drought like conditions.

  April saw no rain for 20 days between the 6-25th and only a little light rain at the month's end saw the percentage fall nudge up towards 30%. May was similar, but slightly wetter.

  Whilst all three months were warmer than average, March was only marginally so and after a cool start, May's final mean temperature was saved by a warm finish. That leaves April and which was the stand out month for both warmth and dryness - but then both April and May were especially sunny, indeed, record breaking.

  Spring 2020 with 137.4 mm (68.8% of average) of rain at Maulds Meaburn (Crosby Ravensworth 158.9 mm) has been the driest since 2010 and is the 2nd driest of the thirteen now recorded.

  A mean temperature of 8.37°c is the warmest since 2017 and 0.53°c above the average. Overall it is the fourth warmest of the twelve now recorded.

  At Newton Rigg rainfall totalled 115.0 mm and had a mean temperature of 8.49°c. In comparison to the 1981-2010 averages this represents 62.5% of spring rainfall and the mean temperature was 0.8°c above average.

  In a series back to 1900 (1 year of incomplete data), spring 2020 was the 14th driest and in a series back to 1914 (6 yrs with data missing), it was the 13th warmest.


May Rainfall Anomalies %                                                                                    May Temp' Anomaly   



   Rainfall totalled 25.5 mm for the month, with rain recorded on 7 days of which 3 were 'Wet days' (1.0mm +).

   The Mean Temperature for the month was 10.67°c      --      The Mean Max' was   16.54°c     --      The Mean Min'   4.80°c.

   We had 3 Air Frosts in the month (year 21)                --      Grass Frosts totalled 11 (year 78).

   The 1 foot soil temp ranged from a low of 10.0°c on the 1st        to      a high of 15.0°c on the 30th - 31st     --      with a monthly mean of 12.0°c

   The 1 meter soil temp ranged from a low of 9.5°c on the 1st - 2nd      to      a high of 11.6°c on the 31st     --     with a monthly mean of 10.4°c

   This makes the Jan' to May period of 2020 0.85°c warmer than the average for 2009-19 and with 145.3% of average rainfall for 2008-19



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JANUARY 2020    FEBRUARY 2020    MARCH 2020   



The Oldest Inhabitant    An Inch Of Scotch Mist    But it's meant to be Summer (Summer 2017)  


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