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The decline in thunder days.

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I can only speak for this area as you are going to get local variations as always when it comes to the weather but looking at the figures for Manchester Ringway, Woodford, my observations and feelings, the number of days with thunder have definitely declined in the last few years especially since and including 2010.

The figures I have

1981: 12

1982: 15

1983: 21

1984: 19

1985: 7

1986: 7

1987:13

1988: 14

1989: 6

1990: 21

1991: 15

1992: 20

1993: 14

1994: 21

1995: 17

1996: 12

1997: 13

1998: 17

1999: 23

2000: 17

2001: 12

2002: 10

2003: 4

2004: 17

2005: 5

2006: 12

2007: 9

2008: 10

2009: 8

2010: 2

2011: 3

2012: 8

2013 was a better year, even had thunder snow that year, last year was very poor and this year, no thunder at all the far.

The 1990s were brilliant for thunder which confirms my recollections of that decade. 1992 and 1994 have stuck in my mind for thunder. 1999 was another good year for thunder.

The figures suggest to me that thundery plumes coming up from the south affecting this area has declined since the start of the 21st century and markedly since 2010. Also showery airstreams with a westerly component especially the NWly are infrequently producing the classic shower passing through with a single crack of thunder.

Unless the rest of the years of the 2010s change drastically and this year is showing no change thus far, the 2010s are looking a very thunderless decade here overall.

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Those figures speak volumes Kev....shows it's not all in our minds when we recall the thundery 90s.

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It would be interesting to see whether there was a way of comparing the prevailing Jet pattern for each year (particularly summer) to see if there is a correlation.

 

For example, perhaps it is only my selective mind at play here, but more recent summers felt like they have produced a Jet Stream pattern where: 

 

a) instead of a SW-NE (positive) axis over the UK, we have seen a flow more commonly as NW-SE (negative). This made it more likely for us to be on the cooler (North) side of the Jet Stream.

 

b) The Jet also seemed to 'buckle' further East in the Atlantic, making it more likely that we are closer to the trough influence on the cooler side of the Jet as it moved in from the NW/W. Any plumes that have occurred seem to be more short lived and shunted away quickly because height rises to our SE/E do not build enough before the strength of the Jet moves it on.

 

Again, it may just be my selective mind at work. I have not looked at any data to back this up.

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The classic thunder recipe here used to be:

Hot airmass lodged over us for at least 3 days, producing plenty of sun and temperatures climbing to at least the high 20s, often hitting 30. Then a disturbance of some kind (trough, active cold front) comes down from the NW and hits it head on, producing Cb that you could see building and going bang. It thunders for at least 2 hours, then fresher air comes in. Very often it doesn't last as the heat builds again in a day or two. Classics like 10 July 1995 and 19 June 2005 (the last time it happened) came from this setup. Many 90s hot spells ended this way.

Nowadays the heat doesn't build as it used to or last as long, and anything coming from the North west invariably just gives a load of cloud (often a day in advance of the actual front) and steady rain, if it goes bang at all it does so miles to the E or SE of here. Basically we get what western Scotland used to get from those setups in the 90s.

Any thunder we get here now invariably comes up from the south or drifts over from Wales, very occasionally a small cell might form here in a cooler, unstable air mass (3rd Aug 2013). We never, ever get those old thunder setups.

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It would be interesting to see whether there was a way of comparing the prevailing Jet pattern for each year (particularly summer) to see if there is a correlation.

 

For example, perhaps it is only my selective mind at play here, but more recent summers felt like they have produced a Jet Stream pattern where: 

 

a) instead of a SW-NE (positive) axis over the UK, we have seen a flow more commonly as NW-SE (negative). This made it more likely for us to be on the cooler (North) side of the Jet Stream.

 

b) The Jet also seemed to 'buckle' further East in the Atlantic, making it more likely that we are closer to the trough influence on the cooler side of the Jet as it moved in from the NW/W. Any plumes that have occurred seem to be more short lived and shunted away quickly because height rises to our SE/E do not build enough before the strength of the Jet moves it on.

 

Again, it may just be my selective mind at work. I have not looked at any data to back this up.

 

The reanalysis of the last nine springs/summers - my perception is that patterns changed late summer 2006 - set against climate mean going back to 1980.

 

6KlMq7y.png   ag5Kvwj.png

 

 

I'm not sure I'm using the right parameter but it is for wind speed/direction at Jet stream height. The first image illustrates the meridional flows that have steered the storms round the UK and away to the near continent.

 

Here's the link for anybody to correct me and play around with different years.

 

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/composites/printpage.pl

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What I find stark is that thunder in this area has become so rare now that it is actually rarer than falling snow was during say the period February 1997 to November 2000 or April 1987 to November 1990.

There were 31 days with lying snow here in 2010, there hasn't even been that number of days with thunder this decade.

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good thread, , to the people saying it just selective memory at play, well I think we can dismiss that proper now, although  never believed it was selective memory , and thanks to weather history for researching some statistics confirms this, now we need to know why,

 

the laughable thing is a decade or two ago the prediction for this type of weather event. ie , flash floods, thunderstorms , intense but short lived convective rainfall would be on the increase , due to 'global warming' ,  

 

just another climate prediction fail like the complete disappearance of arctic ice in the summer months

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I can only speak for this area as you are going to get local variations as always when it comes to the weather but looking at the figures for Manchester Ringway, Woodford, my observations and feelings, the number of days with thunder have definitely declined in the last few years especially since and including 2010.

 

 

I do not wish to knock your post W-H but can you post an approximate date when Manchester Airport 'lost' its professional observers. A professional 24x7 watch is far better than that provided by CAA. I do suspect that some of the numbers are thunder days, in the sense that they could have been thunder heard (wx code 17) and rarely reported by CAA staff at any airport, they have far more important tasks than standing outside IF the weather looks thundery and the forecaster has suggested one spends some time outside! Nor have I much idea how a SAWS or its equivalent is able to give a true indication of thunder days?

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Well locally it's changed. Thundery Showers now rarely make it past the top of the Dronfield bypass and if you look back at post where storms concerned you'll see that occurring a lot.  What used to happen is Storms came up from the South or South West then go down the valleys either side of em then build up again over the city where there's a good heat source. Now what happens they go through Chesterfield and start weakening if anything gets past the top of the bypass it's normal light rain then once it's heading out of Sheffield rebuilds once again.

More likely a temporary blip or are storms getting starved of moisture due to more buildings and removal of trees etc??? I suspect a blip. 

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Going by my records, the number of thunder days here has actually increased going back to 1990 (when my grandfather began keeping weather records), but instead a decline in the number of proper thunderstorms. Most of the thunder recorded here in recent years has come of showery airstreams giving the classic 1-3 thunder rumbles during or just after a shower has passed. The decline has been in the number of successful plumes. In fact some of the more notable thunderstorms have occurred in bog standard cyclonic southwesterlies e.g. 22nd May 2014, 29th July 2013, 04th & 25th August 2012, 23rd September 2010, 06th July 2009, 12th August 2008, 01st October 2006, 21st May 2005 etc.

 

Here's a list of days with thunder in this location since 1991

 

1991: 7

1992: 14

1993: 8

1994: 12

1995: 8

1996: 7

1997: 12

1998: 8

1999: 17

2000: 13

2001: 19

2002: 17

2003: 10

2004: 19

2005: 18

2006: 26

2007: 10

2008: 22

2009: 20

2010: 11

2011: 17

2012: 24

2013: 15

2014: 23

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although i dont live that far from that observation station(ringway) , i suspect the thunder count is even less here,  seem that 2006 was the last decent year , and even that was only about average compared to the nineties 

 

i wonder if changes to the north atlantic drift  are having any effect,  i hope the  just a blip theory is right, but i fear this will be an ongoing trend, 

 

 when the stats for 2015 are added it could show the first 0 , now that would be interesting, but for the wrong reason

Edited by IanR

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For slightly easier reading I have converted the data from two locations, Manchester Airport and Heathrow Airport, into line graphs which may be more easily understood for some users. This is for number of days with thunder per year since 1973.

 

Manchester (EGCC):

 

EGCC%20graph_zpsdunbqmbm.jpg

 

London Heathrow (EGLL):

 

EGLL%20graph_zpsqvwre1wm.jpg

Edited by Convective

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Going by my records, the number of thunder days here has actually increased going back to 1990 (when my grandfather began keeping weather records), but instead a decline in the number of proper thunderstorms. Most of the thunder recorded here in recent years has come of showery airstreams giving the classic 1-3 thunder rumbles during or just after a shower has passed. The decline has been in the number of successful plumes. In fact some of the more notable thunderstorms have occurred in bog standard cyclonic southwesterlies e.g. 22nd May 2014, 29th July 2013, 04th & 25th August 2012, 23rd September 2010, 06th July 2009, 12th August 2008, 01st October 2006, 21st May 2005 etc.

 

Here's a list of days with thunder in this location since 1991

 

1991: 7

1992: 14

1993: 8

1994: 12

1995: 8

1996: 7

1997: 12

1998: 8

1999: 17

2000: 13

2001: 19

2002: 17

2003: 10

2004: 19

2005: 18

2006: 26

2007: 10

2008: 22

2009: 20

2010: 11

2011: 17

2012: 24

2013: 15

2014: 23

thats more encouraging, just wonder if we are being very unlucky in the nw  this decade so far 

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I do not wish to knock your post W-H but can you post an approximate date when Manchester Airport 'lost' its professional observers. A professional 24x7 watch is far better than that provided by CAA. I do suspect that some of the numbers are thunder days, in the sense that they could have been thunder heard (wx code 17) and rarely reported by CAA staff at any airport, they have far more important tasks than standing outside IF the weather looks thundery and the forecaster has suggested one spends some time outside! Nor have I much idea how a SAWS or its equivalent is able to give a true indication of thunder days?

I am not sure when that happen John but nevertheless those figures even if not entirely accurate only confirm my feelings. There is no doubt in my mind number of days with thunder has declined here.

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Will hopefully only be a matter of time before we get those times and days back. Who knows what this July and August might bring. Last year was quite an improvement from the dreadful 2007-12 period.

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I am not sure when that happen John but nevertheless those figures even if not entirely accurate only confirm my feelings. There is no doubt in my mind number of days with thunder has declined here.

That could because we, as short-lived individuals, put a lot of importance on decadal variation?? Aren't all averages only meaningful in hindsight?

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Seems like the 2000s, or at least, the early part, were marginally better than the 1990s in London but the 1980s were best overall - so there are definitely local variations, and not everywhere is the same. Some areas will have seen declines, others increases, others no change. There has been a definite decline here since 2010 but I don't remember any more thunderstorms in the 1990s than the 2000s.

 

Either way, I would not rely too heavily on thunder day figures.

Edited by cheese

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My list (from 1 January 2010)

 

2010: 6

2011: 7

2012: 5

2013: 11

2014: 7

2015: 3 so far

 

I seems that the east side of Manchester is actually more thundery than the west side is. I can only think that the reason for this is orographic lifting from the Pennines, causing some showers to develop to the point where they produce the odd crack of thunder.

 

Yes I seem to recall a couple of cracks of thunder this year at certain points (I'm in Denton)- nothing brilliant storm-wise though for quite some time. The best storms I've seen here (I think June 19th 2005 was one of the best I can remember) have virtually always been during plume events with hot southerly air. We haven't had many plumes for quite some time. Even the very good summer of 2013 lacked many notable plume events with very high temperatures (high 20s, low 30s).

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2014 here was alright to begin with. Spring and early summer produced quite a bit of thunder (the storm on 19th May was a cracker) but then a switch suddenly flicked mid-way through summer and all the thunder events just kept on missing me.

 

Had nothing at all so far this year.

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It seems to me that there has been a decline in convection generally. How rare these days are genuine sunshine & showers days in spring & summer? The majority of thunder days will have been of the "odd rumble in a heavy shower" type anyway, rather than full-on thunderstorms, which to my mind have never numbered more than 2 or 3  year at best. I don't think I've seen any notable convection at all this year!

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It's a long term decline here. Average dropped from 12 days in the mid-19th century to 6 in the mid-20th century then to 3 in the late-20th century.

 

Now it's as good as nothing at all which is incredulous given the wet summers. Not just thunder that's declined but heavy/convective rain in general. The very wet summers of the 1950s had average sunshine generally and lots of thunder/heavy downpours. Complete contrast to the horror shows of the last 8 years where the similar rain totals are made up from persistent frontal winter type light rain and drizzle and sunshine levels horrendous compared to the 50s summers. Just a warmer version of the Faeroes climate. :wallbash:

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Our weather has certainly become more mundane over the last couple of decades. Hardly any snow (apart from the odd yearly blip) and hardly any noteworthy thundery days.

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Can't believe how bad this year is turning out to be. Can't believe the solstice is only 4 days away and I've had one thundery shower! Truly pathetic!

A July and August like this June is turning out to be will just about finish me off.

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I've got childhood memories, being scared through the night, storms that seemed to go on for much of the night.

Spanish plume situation, where the storms must have trained one after another, coming up from the south.

Thunder that would shake the furniture inside the house. Very frequent lightning

 

I can't actually remember the last 'proper' storm around here, counting out the odd heavy shower, with a distant crack of thunder

 

Watching the lightning strike map over a period of time (for the whole of Europe) - you can figure out where the most frequent storms occur

 

It seems that south-eastern part of France, is a favoured spot. Been a lot of storms down in the Med, recently

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I couldnt dissagree. This year is among the most uneventful weather-wise years ever. Everything has been so subtle and short-lives (e.g. no prolonged cold spell, no snow, no extreme thunderstorms which occur more reguarly). That is not to say last year was amazing, because it really wasnt, but the storms did make up for last years boredom of no snow whatsoever; this year however is incredibly boring as of yet... then again, we do have the second half of the year to make up for this, else it may just be the most boring year ever.

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