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Bottesford

A Sunny Winter?

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Not sure if its just my imagination but this winter has felt very sunny compared to many others - I can't remember any long periods of endless grey like we've had in years past. In many winters we'll get a week or even more without seeing the sun once but this year we've had a few cloudy days then a few sunny ones. Even the cloudier periods have had the odd glimmer of sun at least.

Perhaps the lack of easterly winds? We've had a lot of roaring westerlies which although bring in a lot of cloud also break it up at times giving us some sun. Also once a front passes you get a clear slot.

Anyone else getting the same thing?

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It's something which I have thought too Bottesford, although I am sure some members will disagree!

The cloudiest period of days here was probably the Christmas weekend.

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It's been quite sunny here too.. especially compared to February 2011 which was one of the dullest winter months I've ever experienced (not that I was bothered)

Christmas was quite cloudy here too.

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I was thinking about this recently. I felt there had been quite a lot of grey, dull days recently but then I thought back to previous years and it probably isn't any different in terms of the amount of sunny versus dull days. What I do believe is that light levels on the duller days have been much reduced i.e. the cloud must be thicker or the sun is just not penetrating it. I base all this on top down driving days and thankfully, there have still been a few of them this season!

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I agree, it has been noticeably sunnier than the average winter here in these parts. However I did spend the Christmas/New Year in the Manchester area and it was far duller there- it seems like the North West of England has not fared as well compared to most areas in the sunshine stakes.

The most remarkable thing for me is the fact that it has been a notably mild winter but still sunny. Even yesterday here we reached 13C but much of the afternoon was bright. There have been a number of sunny/bright days which have also been above 12C which is a rather unusual combination in the winter time.

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I think it's been a sunny start to January, but overall this winter has been far from sunny. The wettest & mildest winter here in Buxton at least since 2004 with 242mm of rain falling throughout the entire month of December (not to mention the gales and cloud cover.) It's only been the past 3 weeks where things have settled down generally allowing inversions to take place offering some spectacular sights above the fog layers, aswell as clearing things up throughout the days allowing 8/8 skies for the past week.

But as for this winter so far being a sunny one, not at all.

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Buxton really is in its own world when it comes to weather.

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I feel like the last 6 months have been lacking in sun. Summer and autumn were both pretty grey and dull, thats just here though. It has a real habit of being like that here. No real extremes though, not been that warm nor that cool either.

The last week has been pretty sunny with some of the nicest days in ages, days where it is a real pleasure to be outside. Today is sunny but with a dose of wind to take the edge of the warmth, but lovely all the same.

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It has been very sunny and very dry here so far. Its more to do with the extreme westerliness of this winter so far.

Sunshine and Rainfall so far this winter:

December: 73hrs (155%) and 39.4mm (53%)

January (so far): 52hrs (approx 163%) and 11.4mm (22%)

The downside though is that it has been an exceptionally poor winter for 'wintry' weather due to the said pattern, with few frosts and no snow to speak of. Only 6 days have managed sub-5C maxima too, so very poor.

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Can't say I'm grumbling. I do like those proper cold spells from the east (like Jan 2010 and Dec 2010) but 70-80% of the time easterlies are nothing but endless grey skies, zero sunshine, no temperature changes, no frosts, no precipitation (bar drizzle) with the only 'weather' being a stiff cold wind that strips everything of warmth.

A winter like this suits me a lot better although having at least one proper cold spell would be good.

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November was average for me in sunshine amounts but December was very low with it being cloudy for most of the month we hardly saw any sunshine at all. That being said January so far seems to be more sunny than previous years and makes up for December.

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Due to the extreme "westerliness" of the winter so far, there has been considerable regional variation. It has certainly been a very sunny winter in Tyneside so far, with large excesses during the first two-thirds of December, with sunshine merely falling to about average levels in the last third, and then January 2012 has continued with well above average sunshine. But in much of Cumbria December and early January were very dull, with the recent bright frosty interlude providing some relief.

Can't say I'm grumbling. I do like those proper cold spells from the east (like Jan 2010 and Dec 2010) but 70-80% of the time easterlies are nothing but endless grey skies, zero sunshine, no temperature changes, no frosts, no precipitation (bar drizzle) with the only 'weather' being a stiff cold wind that strips everything of warmth.

A winter like this suits me a lot better although having at least one proper cold spell would be good.

Your statement on easterlies probably isn't far from the truth. I think the emphasis on dominant high pressure over Greenland (rather than Scandinavia) and hence a relatively "northerly" source to most of our easterlies, has helped to result in most of them bringing sunshine and snow showers- a factor which, for instance, probably also contributed to the relatively high sunshine totals during winter 1962/63. But at the other extreme, we've had the likes of January 1996, March 1996 and December 2002 which, bar a brief snowy incursion on 26/27 January 1996, brought exactly the scenario described above. Accounts from Winter 1947 suggest that while February began and ended snowy, there was a long spell of dull dry weather for most during the middle fortnight of the month.

It is sunshine, rather than snow amounts, that cause my preference for the "Greenie" over the "Scandi" high. Of course a Scandinavian High can still give sunshine and snow showers off an easterly, it's just that the probability is lower as the high has to be of the right shape to bring the cold upper air over.

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I don't think this winter has been particularly sunny so far, at least not in my area. For me, December 2010 was far sunnier.

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For sunshine it looks like an east-west split in December 2011 (with the east faring well and the west being duller than the long-term average). Here in Reading it's been milder and somewhat sunnier than average so far, with rainfall close to average.

Mention has been made that December 2010 was sunny in places, but many of us here in the south-east don't remember it that way. The MetO maps bear this out - although most of the country was sunny the sunshine anomaly map (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/anomacts/) for that month shows a very dull area centred on London with two areas, roughly centred on Gatwick airport and Reading, receiving less than 30% of the long-term average. In fact parts of the south-east had a notable dull spell with 8 consecutive duller than average months from July 2010 to February 2011.

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Today was a very dull and wet day and the winds weren't from the east either ;)

Christmas period was very dull with mild westerlies and last week until the cold front moved south on thursday gave some very cloudy days and nights.

Nothing beats airmasses of arctic origin for lovely clear landscapes and amazing sunsets in autumn/winter and spring, last friday and the weekend gave me lovely vibrant sunsets, cant say the same about today.

The nights from 13th to 17th were amazingly clear for sky gazing, great for astromony, who must be pulling their hair out if they are looking out at the night sky tonight and not an easterly in sight.

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Christmas day itself here was a lovely sunny one although true there was generally a fair bit of cloud around that period. But at least I saw the sun from time to time.

Yes absolutely Arctic airmasses do indeed give stunning skies - I'll never turn down a northerly during winter or early spring especially. However the easterlies I speak of are not of Arctic origin but from Europe.

Today is indeed unpleasant - rain all day and a westerly wind.

If we consider the winter period we'd say clearest to cloudiest would be:

Northerly (clearest) > Southerly > Westerly > Easterly (dullest)

But of course it does vary.

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i was in the UK from the 18th Dec- 8th Jan..and didnt see any sun until the 4th..then only one day...almost 3 weeks of dull gloomy mild sometimes wet weather

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I don't think of easterlies as being dull, I associate them with cold, dry continental air and the continent is sunnier then we are in winter, especially Russia.

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Easterlies dull here from march-0ct, very prone to the north sea misty low cloud, but clear generally from Nov-Feb,

NW winds are by miles the worst, especially from Nov-Feb, constant rain

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Continental air is fundamentally dry and stable, and as it passes over the North Sea it picks up moisture, and the contrast between the cold air and the warm North Sea de-stabilises the airmass near the surface, resulting in convection. If the airmass is very cold at upper levels, the contrast with the warm North Sea may be sufficient to de-stabilise the airmass up to well beyond the cloud condensation level, resulting in towering cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. The updraughts within the convective clouds are accompanied by sinking air around their periphery, thus producing the characteristic mix of sunny intervals and snow showers. But if not, then the upper atmosphere remains stable and the convective cloud encounters an inversion, spreading out into stratocumulus. Hence, most half-hearted (in terms of cold) easterly incursions just bring an endless stream of stratocumulus in off the North Sea.

However, easterlies tend to be sunny in sheltered western areas all year around because the cloud cover, be it a layer of stratocumulus or cumulonimbus cells interspersed with clear intervals, tends to fizzle out as it passes over the land, especially if it has to pass over high ground. Note "sheltered western areas" though- sometimes in central areas you can get orographic enhancement resulting in even cloudier conditions than near the coast, e.g. during February 1947 Durham managed 42.8 hours of sunshine, about 35% below the local average, but at inland Sheffield the total was a remarkably meagre 18.5 hours, roughly 70% below normal.

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My location has been on the dividing line between the relatively sunny east and the cloudy west so far this winter.

December had 36.4 hrs of sunshine ( 72% of the 30 year average ) whereas Buxton ( Met' Office site ) had 26.1 hrs and Brierlow Bar a few miles to the south of the town and only 16 miles from here had just 17.7 hrs.

The second half of December was particularly cloudy with just 11.8 hrs of sunshine here from the 16th-31st.

So far January has been sunnier than average with 41.6 hrs in the first 20 days ( 115% of the average for the period) and almost as much as in the whole of January 2011 which had 44.3 hrs. Still some way to go though to equal Jan 2010 which recorded 61.7 hrs.

Both December and January ( so far ) have been wetter than average. December recorded 159.7 mm ( 139% of average ) and January is on 81.6 mm (120% of average for the first 19.5 days).

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You've got to be kidding me. We had a good four or five days straight of crisp sunshine earlier this week, but other than that sunny days have been few and far between since October.

Better to get dullness now than in summer though. I don't think I could handle another July 2010 this year.

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'Sunny days have been few and far between'

No, they haven't. Perhaps in your back yard.

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'Sunny days have been few and far between'

No, they haven't. Perhaps in your back yard.

They probably have been pretty hard to come by Liverpool, as the current dominant westerly pattern encourages an east/west split.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/anomacts/2011/12/2011_12_Sunshine_Anomaly_1971-2000.gif

Liverpool averaged around an hour of sunshine per day in December and that easily could have come across a few days, so I can understand AderynCoch's point of view.

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