The Summer of 2012

   This report was amended 15th July 2013 to reflect the ranking of wettest summers on record.

     The summer of 2012 has received a bad press both locally and nationally, but just how bad was it really?

   The meteorological summer consists of June, July and August and locally, using the Met’ office figures for their site at Newton Rigg for the period 1981-2010, we would expect an average summer temperature of 14.2°c, rainfall of 198.9 mm and a total of 468 hours of sunshine.

   Taking temperature first, summer saw both June and July colder than average, with August virtually average and hence here at Maulds Meaburn summer averaged a cool 13.38°c, which is actually 0.21°c warmer than summer of 2011!

   Newton Rigg averaged 13.5°c, which in a series going back to 1959 has 14 colder, with two of the same mean temperature, (1962 being the coldest at 12.6°c) and is 0.7°c below the long term mean.

   Summer mean temperatures from other local sites includes: Keswick 14.3°c, Shap 12.6°c, Warcop 13.2°c and Blencathra 13.2°c.

   This summer at Maulds Meaburn saw 20°c attained on only 16 days (eleven of which were in August) and none went on to reach 25°c and indeed this year’s highest temperature (26.9°c on 23rd May) has fallen outside of the summer months. Newton Rigg recorded 26.1°c on the 24th May.

   But the real story is that of rainfall and Newton Rigg has recorded its third wettest ever summer with 354.2 mm of rain, some 178% of average.

   But a real curiosity is the current frequency of wet summers with three of the wettest seven having occurred within the last 9 years. However, this is possibly not as curious as the run of wet summers in the 1920's and 1930.

   Nationally, in a series commencing 1910 (although the summers of 1763, 1829, 1860 and 1879 were wetter, but rainfall recording had yet to begin at Newton Rigg), it has been the second wettest summer to that of 1912.

   But 1912 with 347.5 mm of rain would only be Newton Rigg’s 7th wettest summer – the wettest being 1930 with 440.0 mm - the wettest summers being:

   1.) 1930 - 440.0 mm        2.) 1928 - 370.0 mm        3.) 2004 - 369.0 mm        4.) 1927 - 367.0 mm        5.) 2007 - 361.0 mm        6.) 2012 - 354.2 mm        7.) 1912 - 347.5 mm.

   Rainfall recording at Maulds Meaburn commenced in 2007 and that summer saw 355.5 mm.

   At least Newton Rigg avoided having all three summer months record 100 mm+ of rain, (July only had 99.0 mm and August had 97.8 mm and surprisingly so did Shap, as only 88.6 mm was recorded there in July!), but here at Maulds Meaburn all three months did go over the 100 mm mark for a final total of 403.4 mm.

   Other figures from local sites being: Shap 484.4 mm, Warcop 363.2 mm and Blencathra 532.4 mm.

   One curiosity to this though are the rainfall figures for Appleby (Castle Bank) from 1891, they show that with just 277.7 mm 1930 would only rank as its 22nd wettest summer!

   But the monthly figures from 1912 between the two sites show a striking disparity for June, Appleby's figures were - June 209.8 mm - July 91.9 mm - August 110.3 mm.

   With the figures for Newton Rigg being - June 131.8 mm - July 88.4 mm - August 127.3 mm

   The wettest summers at Appleby are:        1.) 1928 - 460.5 mm        2.) 1912 - 412.1 mm        3.) 2012 - 390.8 mm **        4.) 1927 - 368.0 mm        5.) 1891 - 365.0 mm        6.) 1931 - 350.0 mm       

   However, that disparity for 1930 is certainly odd. As above, we know that it only ranks as the 22nd wettest at Appleby, but also in 1930 there was another rain gauge sited in Penrith at Laurel Bank. It only recorded 331.2 mm for the summer, some 108.8 mm less!

   Whilst not suggesting that there are 'issues' with the 1930 totals for either Newton Rigg or indeed Appleby, there was obviously something very localised occuring that Summer.

   For comparison, 1995 provided both Newton Riggs warmest (15.6c) and driest (67.4 mm) summers, marginally beating 1976 into second on both counts.

   So, as with the thunder storm of 28th June this year that lasted just over one hour, one such event can provide virtually 50% of the driest summer’s total rainfall!

   The other dominant feature of this summer as been the lack of sunshine and both June and July were especially dull. Unfortunately sunshine is no longer recorded at Newton Rigg (Cumbria) but the Met’ Office have made some ‘best estimates’ for myself, based on gridded data and they are: June 102 hours - July 95 hours and August 134 hours.

   This is only 70.7% of average seasonal sunshine and that figure of 95 hours in July is what we would expect in March.

   So whilst perceptions of the weather aren’t always supported by the facts of a whole month or season, this summer saw perception and fact in perfect harmony - with summer 2012 we can safely assert that it has been wet, cool, dull and utterly miserable.

   ** Rainfall data for Appleby in 2012 is taken from a site at Mill Hill. The last reading of the gauge at Castle Bank was in June 2012 and due to access issues the site is now closed. Comparatively the rainfall for Mill Hill and Castle Bank for Jan'-June' 2012 was virtually identical.


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   

   © Darren Rogers 2012

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