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Thundery wintry showers

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  1. Having compiled the UK area-average summer index, I get 2007 196, 2012 175. Averaged over the UK, summer 2012 had a mean max temp 0.35C cooler than summer 2007, it had 69 hours less sunshine and it also had 5.6 more wet days. Indeed, 2012 had the highest number of wet days of any summer in the period from 1919 to 2019 inclusive. Of course there will be regional variation around that. By this index 2012 ranks as the worst summer since 1985 and as the 4th worst since 1954, which has the lowest score (161), due to not being quite as cool and/or cloudy as those other summers. Also, if you remove the global warming trend from the data, 2012 comes out with the second lowest index of the whole 101-year period, narrowly ahead of 1954. Since 1980, the summer 2007 score of 196 was exceeded on the low side only by 1980, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1998 and 2012, and equalled by 2008, so by most standards 2007 was still a pretty poor summer for the UK.
  2. I remember June 2013 being dry and quite cool overall (at least for recent years), as part of a generally cool first half of the year which was followed by a much warmer first half. There was an anticyclonic spell early on which I spent in the Vale of York, and it was generally dry and sunny there as I was just to the west of the veil of low cloud that kept coming in off the North Sea and affecting many eastern parts of England. Unusually South Shields also lay just to the west of the low cloud and thus also had a sunny week, but it was a dull spell in East Anglia in particular. Generally both June and July 2013 were warmer and sunnier the further west you were, and July 2013 was exceptionally so. I had a week's holiday near the northern/southern Irish border and it was hot and sunny for almost the entire week with temperatures in the mid to high 20s - somewhat unusual for July, when Ireland tends to be cloudier than in May and June due to increased westerlies. Then I stayed in Dumfries overnight 22/23 July, which was well-timed as the region had a very potent thunderstorm early on the 23rd. Statistically July 2013 was also an outstanding month in Devon with ~300 hours of sunshine, but less exceptional in the east, where north-easterly winds blew at times and brought in some low cloud. August 2013 was pretty normal but I do remember some quite potent thunderstorms in North Yorkshire in late July and again in August. The UK summer index (based on the Met Office values for sunshine, max temp and wet days) for 2013 comes out at 247, which since 1980 has been exceeded in 1983, 1984, 1989, 1995, 2003, 2006 and 2018 - so we can expect a summer as good as 2013 on average once in every five or six years. It would probably rank higher than that in the west and lower in the east.
  3. These figures show that it does vary depending on what part of the country you lived in, even just when considering opposite sides of the south Pennines. One way of doing it would be to apply the Manchester summer index to the UK's areal max temperature, rainfall and rain day stats from the Met Office at https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-and-regional-series. Here I get: 2007: 196 2008: 196 2011: 201 2012: 175 2015: 207 The Met Office provides rain days (>= 1mm rather than >= 0.2mm), which is less ideal, but the index still seems to work well, e.g. in records going back to 1919, the two highest-rated summers are 1976 (288) and 1995 (280), and the lowest by a fair margin is 1954 (161) which I expect would match up well with many people's perceptions. Interestingly 2018 ranks 3rd for the UK with 265. What's coming out from the various stats, though, is that they strongly bear out the original thread title. June 2008 was a decent month for many (especially down here in the south-west, although I wasn't here at the time), and July 2008, despite being wet, generally had sunshine totals that weren't far from normal, and had a warm sunny spell in the last third of the month. It was that August that really dragged the summer down to the level of those of 2007, 2011 and 2015 and even a bit below in some parts of the country.
  4. I saw a couple of very distant flashes of lightning from a cell that sprouted up over Dartmoor, but it was too far away to have any realistic chance of hearing the thunder. I felt a bit cheated when every run of the GFS until today's 12Z showed a band of heavy, almost certainly thundery, showers over Exeter between 0 and 3am, and then on the 12Z it had vanished completely. The 18Z does show some potential again, mainly at 3-6am, but again not as strong as on previous runs. However, rather ironically there are some intensifying cells approaching from the north-western tip of France that have potential to produce something along the lines of the earlier GFS forecasts, should they intensify much further, so at present it's far too early to call this a bust.
  5. This seems to be a facet of our changing climate - in the 1970s and 1980s, it took exceptional synoptics like those of late June 1976 to get temperatures approaching the mid-30s Celsius, and most heatwaves had temperatures predominantly in the mid to high 20s, whereas these days it doesn't seem to take anywhere near as much to get temperatures into the 30s. Climate change projections do quite widely have our heatwaves hotting up at a faster rate than the rise in mean temperature. I think that for this reason it's unlikely that we'll see another summer that fails to hit 30C. Note that 1993, despite its reputation, wasn't a consistently cool summer, there were some hot spells in early and late June in particular but none of them were hot enough to hit 30C. I remember that incursion of unusually hazy continental air around 9 June 1993 which was followed by thunderstorms for some. One of the big attractions of heatwaves has historically been their rarity - like many weather enthusiasts it would seem, I have a history of being excited by extreme temperatures and looking forward to heatwaves just to get the opportunity to experience unusually high temperatures, but as the climate warms these temperatures are becoming less unusual. The highest hourly readings were 27.2C at Exeter Airport today so it probably got to near 28C at some point, which I normally find fine, but today the humidity was rather higher than we have had in many recent spells with those sort of temperatures (e.g. late June/early July 2018), and it is currently a sweltering 28C in my living room. But to my mind it will be well worth it if I get a good display of lightning at around midnight on 25/26 June, as is still being shown on the GFS at just T+24.
  6. 2003 was my favourite year of this decade, mainly due to its high sunshine totals. The summer wasn't as sunny as the spring or autumn, but in Tyneside it had some big thunderstorms, including some on my birthday (22 June). Next up were probably 2006 and 2009, mainly due to the record-breaking hot sunny July in 2006, and the snowy February, thundery summer and snowy late December in 2009. In fourth place is 2005, which I think of as a "very nearly year", in particular the summer would've ranked as one of my all-time favourites had it not been for the extremely dull last third of July. 5th place goes to 2001 - in Tyneside this year had a snowy March, a very sunny May, thundery wintry showers 8/9 November and a snowy end, but the summer and especially September weren't great. My least favourite year of that decade was undoubtedly 2002 - apart from some decent warm sunny weather in late March and April I don't have many positive memories of that year's weather. 2000 and 2004 also lacked positive memories but were saved by snow events - post-Christmas 2000 and the dramatic frontal snow squall on 28 January 2004 which gave thundersnow for some. Also 2004 was a thundery summer, if wet and fairly cloudy. 2007 was another "least favourite" candidate but the April in particular saved it. 2008 was saved by the period from February to mid-April, February for its record-breaking sunny spell from the 8th-19th and late March/early April for late snowfalls and some convective storms, I had a particularly potent thunderstorm in Norwich on 11 April 2008.
  7. I was up in Tyneside in summer 2007 and in June 2012, moved down to North Yorkshire for July/August 2012 and just missed out on the big Tyne and Wear thunderstorm of 28 June 2012. From my recollections 2012 was considerably worse than 2007. The Junes of 2007 and 2012 were both comparably dull and wet in that part of the country, mainly because early June 2007 had a lot of haar near the east coast while much of the rest of the country had some warm sunshine, but June 2007 was nonetheless about a degree warmer than June 2012 even near the coast. July 2012 continued dull and wet, whereas July 2007 at least had close to average sunshine. Late June and early July 2007 were also thundery with 7 thunder-days during the period 20 June-4 July. I rather enjoyed the first half of August 2012, which had a week of sunshine and thundery showers followed by a few days of dry sunny weather, but the second half returned to being dull and wet. August 2007 on the other hand was quite dry and sunny, if rather cool. Indeed I thought summer 2008 was about as bad as 2007 due mainly to that August, which was widely the dullest since 1912.
  8. Had been expecting another day of sunshine and showers and chances of thunder in Exeter, but to my disappointment when I woke up this morning the rain belt was a lot further south than forecast. Not expecting any sun or any thunder today - just a dull wet day.
  9. A tornado on my 15th birthday in South Tyneside on 22 June 1999. There had been sunshine and showers from a north-westerly on the 20th and 21st but the 22nd was forecast to be a dry and bright, if rather chilly, day prior to the arrival of a rain belt from the west. However, showers unexpectedly developed early that morning in the Tyne and Wear area and one of these showers spawned a tornado that was visible to the west of Cleadon village at around 8:30am.
  10. An isolated storm cell has been passing over the north of Exeter for the past hour, a number of close rumbles and bangs at around 2 to 2:30pm but has eased and pushed further north now. I was out for a walk this lunchtime and saw the innocuous-looking cumulus clouds to the east sprout up into cumulonimbus between 1 and 2pm. This makes it my second thunder-day of the year. It looks like being dry here for the rest of the afternoon but there's also potential for more this evening and tomorrow. Some rather interesting-looking plumes showing up on the GFS and ECMWF for about a week's time too!
  11. I very much doubt it. For example, Heathrow Airport, normally one of the UK's hotspots in this type of setup, has only got to around 24C. It's above average for this time of year (around 21C) but nowhere near 30C, and it's hard to imagine any other sites being as much as 6C warmer.
  12. I can say with confidence that my favourite years of that decade were 2010, followed quite closely by 2018, and I also had a positive overall opinion of 2013 and 2015. The first three years were because of snowy winters and/or warm sunny spells in the summer, while 2015 made the good category because of the sunny polar maritime-dominated winter and early spring, and the very sunny April and September. My two least favourites were 2011, followed by 2012, 2011 because not a lot happened that year and 2012 because of the summer washout. 2014 is somewhat difficult to place because I spent most of that year in North Yorkshire, where I had a low opinion of the year (maybe even 3rd bottom after 2011 and 2012) but I am well aware that had I spent that year in Exeter, where 2014 was easily the most thundery year of the 2010s and had a particularly wild winter, it might well have ranked as my 3rd or 4th favourite year of the decade.
  13. I am certainly pleased that I'm not living on the north-east coast of England at present - it looks like during this slack showery spell the winds will perpetually be off the North Sea. I used to find these setups very frustrating when I lived up there, enduring days on end of overcast weather and daytime highs of 11-13C while most of the rest of the UK had sunshine, showers and thunderstorms, and then having my elderly relatives rub it in by telling me how lucky I was to be getting the best of the weather, for at least I was missing the thundery downpours. In addition to this, it's been 10-12C up there for most of the past week, judging by Neil Bradshaw's readings from South Shields. It remains to be seen how much sunshine and how many showers the Exeter area will pick up, and whether or not there will be any more thunder-days, but it will almost certainly feel a lot more "summery" down here than on the north-east coast over the coming week and possibly beyond.
  14. I recall mentioning in another recent thread that at Heathrow August 1998 was the second sunniest August of the 1990s, behind only the record-breaking one in 1995. In contrast, at Durham it was the third dullest August of the 1990s, two examples which reflect the north-south split during that month. I don't think August 1998 was a particularly thundery month overall - there were some localised events including the death from lightning in Oxford on August 1, but most sites in the RMetS Weather Log had just one or two thunder-days at the most. Thunder was also rare in August 2007. August 1991 was the third sunniest August of the 1990s at both Heathrow and Durham, bearing out Kevin's earlier comment about August 1991 being underrated/overlooked. I am not old enough to recall August 1991, though I do have vague memories of the sunny summer of 1989 and the snow in February 1991.
  15. This is the summer 1995 chart that I wheel out in this kind of situation: Greenland High, jet stream seemingly straight across the UK... and yet all we got was a few days of sunshine and showers and near to slightly above average temperatures followed by the re-establishment of a Euro high/Atlantic trough setup bringing frequent southerly winds. I got my first thunderstorm of the year in Exeter today, but hoping that the upcoming slack/cyclonic spell sees some reduction in the overall cloud cover.
  16. Had my first thunderstorm of the year in Exeter, a couple of very close strikes and about 10-15 rumbles that were further away to the south.
  17. 2009 was the summer that immediately sprung to my mind, though I was helped by where I was living at the time. I spent June 2009 in Exeter, where the month had two dramatic thunderstorms on the 6th and 15th and plenty of warm sunny weather early and late in the month. July 2009 appears to have been a washout in the south-west, but I went to Norwich that month, where it was a bit warmer and sunnier than average, with mainly convective rainfall and a high frequency of thunder. August 2009 in Norwich was a warm dry month, dull in the first half but more than offset by sunny spells mid to late month. It was the only summer that I particularly enjoyed in that run of generally dull wet summers from 2007-2012. I always thought of 2005 an "almost great but not quite" summer - 2nd half June, the 2nd and 3rd weeks of July, and large parts of August were memorable for the right reasons, but the extremely dull last third of July let it down somewhat in my opinion. July 2000's weather varied considerably depending on where you were: in western Scotland it was very sunny with warm days and cool nights, but it was one of the dullest Julys on record in parts of eastern England with mean maxima over 2C below the 61-90 average in Norfolk. I do have fond memories of the second half of August 2000, and there was a heatwave shortly before my birthday in that June, so I can see how those who got away with a relatively sunny July would consider that summer underrated. But I spent the summer in Tyneside where July was a cold and cloudy month.
  18. I wasn't even born then, but I have seen plenty of stats suggesting that late spring 1980 was exceptionally sunny in some parts of the country, especially the north-west. June stands out as an unusually thundery month, with 9 thunder-days in Newcastle, which is about what Newcastle normally gets in a whole year. This was mainly due to a warm humid thundery first week and then a spell of sunshine, showers and widespread thunder from 22-26 June associated with slow-moving low pressure close to the UK and a lack of accompanying fronts. However it would appear that the rest of that month was generally cold, dull and wet. July and August were notably cool and cloudy for most, though not generally as wet as June. November 1980 was interesting: there was an exceptionally early snowfall on Jersey around the 6th and some wintry showers affected many parts of southern and eastern England. A northerly blast near the end brought widespread snow showers to the north and east, but it was generally mild in between and so the month as a whole wasn't particularly cold.
  19. The current long-range model outputs are pointing towards a potentially thundery setup towards mid-June with a warm east to south-easterly flow and low pressure to the SW.
  20. There's been a regional contrast around the country today - there's a zone of dull damp wet overcast weather slipping south, followed by a region of sunshine and thundery showers. London and Exeter have been under the former today, while Leicester has been under the latter. It's a good illustration of why I was never a fan of dismissively lumping both weather types together under the heading "unsettled", as for some of us they can give a very different experience. But yes, from a local Exeter point of view I would agree more with the "autumnal/appalling" descriptions.
  21. To my mind it's quite surprising that summer 1989 gets forgotten against summer 1990, as June 1990 was pretty dull and cool, and July 1990 was not as warm as July 1989 despite being comparably sunny. The record-breaking (at the time) early August 1990 heatwave is probably the reason why 1990 gets remembered more, but even so, August 1990, like August 1989, was a NW-SE split month sunshine wise, and averaged nationally August 1989 was sunnier than August 1990. The good summers of 1994 and 1996 being forgotten by comparison with that of 1995 is much easier to understand.
  22. 2003 was officially the sunniest year on record for the UK but its summer, though generally sunnier than average, was not as exceptionally sunny as the spring or autumn, hence failing to make it into the top four. The periods January-April and September/October were the most exceptionally sunny. Yes August 1995 was an exceptionally sunny month almost nationwide - percentages of the 1961-1990 average included 158 at Heathrow, 160 at Durham, 172 at Glasgow Airport and 174 at Manchester Airport.
  23. When seeing rain on the radar for the first time, my first instinct was to check the precipitation type!  I had to remind myself that it's June and that the year isn't 1975...

  24. Yes, 1989 is often the "forgotten sunny summer" because it was not generally as hot as 1976 or 1995. The May-August period of 1989 was the sunniest of all, bolstered by a record-breaking sunny May with over 300 hours in parts of the south (although May 2020 surpassed even May 1989). June 1989 was changeable early and late but had a prolonged sunny spell in the middle, and July 1989 was generally a warm/hot dry sunny month, and particularly sunny in many northern parts of Britain. August 1989 had a NW-SE split with the NW turning cloudier and more changeable, but much of central, southern and eastern England holding onto sunny weather for most of the month. I have very vague memories of a summer in my early childhood in South Shields when it seemed to be sunny almost every day for a long period, and I used to track the shadows as they were moving around with the sun position. The statistics suggest that it was probably that period from early May through to mid-August 1989.
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