Monthly Summary - May 2021

 Very cold and wet - often unsettled

     Whereas April may have been chilly, it was at least dry and sunny; the same could not be said about May.

  A cold month, especially for the first nine days during which the skiers were out on Helvellyn, but which was also often wet and unsettled with rain a frequent visitor, all until the very end of the month when high pressure finally brought something more cheerful, but which was a case of 'too little, too late'.

  The number of frosts recorded was above average and whilst it is still a relatively short record here at Maulds Meaburn, both the coldest daily minimum and maximum temperature records for May were recorded. Ordinarily cold and wet do not go hand in hand, but with those frosts, two particularly wet days and suppressed day-time temperatures, May certainly did to make it both the coldest and wettest at this site.

  Low pressure was to the fore with the 3rd and 20th being especially wet throughout the county, showers and the occasional longer spell of rain typifying the rest of the month.

  MSLP of 1008.7 Mb was -6.2 MB below the local average for the month and overall a mean minimum of 3.67°c and a mean maximum of 13.53°c saw the temperature 1.78°c below the twelve year average for this site.

  It was the coldest of the thirteen now recorded - the highest maximum temperature recorded during the month was 22.3°c (30th), the lowest minimum -3.8°c (1st).

  Rainfall of 133.8 mm (Maulds Meaburn North 131.9 mm -- Castlehowe Scar 159.6 mm) was 235.1% of average for 2008-20 and made it the wettest May of the fourteen now recorded.

  During the month the following was recorded: Hail fell on four days (5-7th and 17th) -- The wind speed averaged 5.90 mph, with a maximum gust of 35 mph (23rd).

  At the Met' Office site at Newton Rigg (**) rainfall totalled 101.8 mm (181.5% of average), making it the wettest since 2011. Since the record began in 1900, 10 have been wetter and 111 have been drier.

  (**) The site at Newton Rigg is about to close - the current owners are selling up and have given the Met' Office notice to quit. During April the temperature sensor broke and has not been replaced due to the impending closure of the site and hence the reason for the lack of temperature data this month.

  At Appleby in Westmorland rainfall of 116.4 mm represents 207.9% of its average (1857-2020) and made it the wettest since 1986 - in a record that commenced in 1857, 5 have been wetter and 159 drier.

  Rainfall totals across Cumbria were above average across the whole county. In some locations more than double the average was recorded, as high as 248.9% at Walney and with many still in excess of 150%. However, at Brampton and Spadeadam the percenatges fell to 113%, but with just 98% (54.6 mm), Abbeytown avoided the heavy showers to somehow finish drier than average.

  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 101.4 mm (48.0 mm)

  Haresceugh Castle (Kirkoswald) 82.94 mm (61.1 mm)

  Brothers Water 200.95 mm (138 mm)

  Orton (Shallowford) 156.8 mm (87.1 mm [average for 1967-2019])

  307.6 mm at Seathwaite Farm (Borrowdale - 169 mm [average for 1981-2010]) - making it the wettest since 2015 and since the record commenced in 1845, the 18th wettest.


  General Synoptic Report for the Month

   The cold conditions from April persisted at the start of the month as the UK sat within slack pressure, but with a nominal N'ly flow. This saw the 1st start with what is this sites coldest May night -3.8°c (25.2°f) (Shap -5.8°c), but which was followed by a reasonably bright day. After another frost on the 2nd it was all change as an area of low pressure (LP) that was building and deepening in the Atlantic moved across the UK on the 3rd. Much of the 3rd remained below 5° and a very wet afternoon saw over an inch of rain fall (27.6 mm).

  Once the LP had cleared east it then introduced a N'ly flow that would persist for the next few days as the LP never moved that far east across towards the Baltic. This saw another particularly cold day on the 4th which at just 6.7°c (Blencathra 5.7°c) is now this sites lowest day-time maximum for May - and then the frosts returned!

  The pressure gradient slackened, it fell much calmer and with a nominal NW'ly flow. Each of the 5-8th recorded frosts with another particularly cold start to the 6th at -3.7°c and then the day under overcast skies never warmed up at all, having a maximum of just 7.8°c. And snow was lying on the mountains - so much so that the skiers were out on Helvellyn!

 . We would now commence a very common theme, lasting long into the month - afternoon showers, some of which would be quite heavy, a case of April in May!

  LP was often over or surrounding the UK and whilst at times we sat within slack pressure, unstable air warmed sufficiently during the day (although day-time temperatures never rose above 15°c, which also happens to be the seasonal average, until the 27th) to set off those showers. Rain was recorded on all but the 12th and 19th (which with slightly clearer skies saw both the 13th and 19th start with a slight ground frost) and whilst there was the odd glimpse of the sun it was mainly cool and cloudy with temperatures failing to attain the seasonal norm'.

  The showers were heaviest on the 13th (6.2 mm) and the 16th (9.6 mm) and even contained some hail on the 17th. The 19th was the best day of the period, which after a coolish start enjoyed sunny spells for the majority of the day, but in spite of this could only record a maximum temperature of 14.9°c.

  Then the 20th was another very poor day. LP built and deepened to our SW, arriving late morning to bring a rather wet day (26.5 mm) and one which was quite cool at just 11.7°c. Mickleden (Langdale) with 103 mm of rain recorded the greatest 24hr fall in the UK for the month.

  The LP was slow to clear out into the North Sea, bringing another 4.8 mm on a grey 21st, with the 22nd starting cloudy and quite uninspiringly.

  A weak and transient ridge of high pressure overnight into the 23rd had allowed for a break in the clouds and for a cooler night, and even a slight ground frost! But after a mixed day a new area of LP arrived during the afternoon to bring another spell of rain (12.6 mm). Whilst the UK sat within a broad area of LP on the 24th, Cumbria brightened quite nicely during the afternoon and the sun was welcome.

  From the 27th HP began to build over the UK, becoming dominant by the 29th and finally ... a few dry and sunny days with the temperature finally rising.

  The last two days of the month were by far the best with wall to wall sunshine and the temperature rising above 20°c for the first time this year. The 30th would be the month's warmest day at 22.3°c (72.1°f), the 31st a tadge cooler, but still managing 70°f.



  Across Cumbria the season will be remembered for the dry, sunny, cold and frostiness of April followed by a wet, cold and fairly cheerless May.

  The number of frosts (20) in April broke a long standing record from 1922 and in doing so recorded the lowest mean minimum temperature on record for the month. Whilst it was cool it was compensated by being the sunniest April on record and was locally in the top five driest Aprils (second driest at Newton Rigg) - at St.Bees just 2.6 mm of rain was recorded.

  All three months finished significantly wide of their respective mean temperature, March being the only month to finish warmer than average.

  Spring 2021 with 305.9 mm (156.9% of average) of rain at Maulds Meaburn (Maulds Meaburn North 302.4 mm) has been the wettest of the fourteen now recorded.

  A mean temperature of 6.71°c is the second coldest to that of 2013 and is 1.18°c below the average. Whilst slightly warmer than 2013, the mean minimum for this season (1.85°c) was actually slightly colder than that of 2013.

  Thirty two (32) air frosts during the season is double the average and ground frosts were 9.5 above average.

  At Newton Rigg rainfall totalled 226.2 mm (122.9% of average) and is the wettest since 2019 - in a series back to 1900 (1 year with no data) 18 having been wetter and 102 have been drier.

  At Appleby In Westmorland the season's total was 234.9 mm (143.2% of average) which is the wettest since 1993 and in its series back to 1857 14 have been wetter and 150 drier.


May's Rainfall Anomalies %                                                                      May's Temp' Anomaly   



   Rainfall totalled 133.8 mm for the month, with rain recorded on 22 days of which 17 were 'Wet days' (1.0mm +).

   The Mean Temperature for the month was 8.60°c      --      The Mean Max' was   13.53°c     --      The Mean Min'   3.67°c.

   We had 6 Air Frosts in the month (year 61)                --      Grass Frosts totalled 10 (year 87).

   The 1 foot soil temp ranged from a low of 7.5°c on the 5th        to      a high of 14.3°c on the 31st     --      with a monthly mean of 10.3°c

   The 1 meter soil temp ranged from a low of 8.1°c on the 8-9th      to      a high of 10.8°c on the 31st     --     with a monthly mean of 9.2°c

   This makes the Jan' to May period of 2021 1.14°c colder than the average for 2009-20 and with 139.9% of average rainfall for 2008-20



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


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