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Favourite May memory months


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As we approach May, my favourite month overall, welcome hearing others memories of good May's in the past.

May can be a mixed month, but it can also deliver the best weather of the year, lengthy sunny dry periods with temps in the low-mid 20s not too unbearable for outdoor activities etc. Everything is growing fast in May, it can be the sunniest month of the year, by mid May the sun is as high in the sky as it is in late July. Convection doesn't tend to take a hold in May either at the same extent it does in the summer, so less chance of midday cloud spoiling things, better light - less haze. Also you can't beat the positive feeling of May, with the summer still ahead.

My favourite top 3 Mays are as follows:

2018 - lengthy sunny warm weather, barely a drop of rain

1989 - similiar to 2018

1992 - another very warm dry sunny May

Notable mention goes to following periods:

First half May 1998 - after the chilly sometimes wintry April, the first 2 weeks brought consistently dry sunny warm weather, things broke markedly second half of the month

First half May 2008 - almost a carbon copy of 1998 again after a rather poor April, the first half of May brought sunny warm dry weather, with a change slightly later than mid month. Interestingly both summers of 98 and 08 were quite similar quite, cool and dull, the preceding winters also very similiar wet very mild.

Early May 90 - remember very high temps, likewise Early May 95 - around bank holiday

Late May 12 - the only decent warm sunny dry period of the year, coming on the back of a very wet April and first two thirds to May, it was very welcomed, unfortunately everything went downhill start of June

Notable not warm, sunny conditions include:

Early May 97 - an arctic northerly shot, snow on the ground one morning, then a switch to sunshine and heat, a classic spring switcharound

May 96 - consistently dull chilly with a persistant east wind, on the back of a cold winter and March, and April, spring never really happened that year, thankfully by end of May some welcome warm weather arrived, start of June was hot - see other thread

Mid May 95 - cold cyclonic spell, sleety rain here

Thunder:

May 97, 03 - seem to remember some humid thundery weather at times

 

 

Edited by damianslaw
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May 1997 had two switch-arounds in quick succession - many parts were warm and sunny from the 1st to 3rd, there were snow showers on the 6th and 7th, and then the switch to warm, thundery weather around the 17th.  In Tyneside however the month was spoilt for me by a week of North Sea low cloud from the 17th to 23rd, it might well have ranked as my all-time favourite May had I been living away from the north-east coast.

May 1995's switch-arounds were more drawn out but we had an exceptional early hot spell from the 1st to 6th, some wintry showers in places on the 11th-13th and some sleet and snow in places from fronts on the 17th, which was an unusually cold day.  A spell of warm-ish southerlies then followed from the 21st to 28th, but by the month's end we had chilly north-westerlies.  I remember that month for a very high frequency of convective sunshine-and-showers days in Tyneside during the periods 8th-20th and 27th-31st, although this didn't show up in the month's statistics, which were unexceptional, just a bit warmer, drier and sunnier than average.

May 2001 stuck out for me in Tyneside, a very sunny month and not much North Sea low cloud despite a high frequency of easterlies.  I was in Norwich during May 2008, and the first half was memorably warm/hot and sunny - Norwich Airport was regularly among the sunniest places in the UK - but partially offset by a rather cloudy second half.

May 2018 was memorable in that not only was it a record-breaking sunny month but the warmest and sunniest weather coincided exactly with the two Bank Holidays.  In contrast, in 1997 the Bank Holiday was the dull wet day in the transition from warm sunshine to snow showers, and in 1995 the VE day was the day after the heatwave broke down.  My weather records indicate that 8 May 1995 in South Tyneside had frequent heavy showers and not much sunshine in between, but there was a vivid red sunset that evening as the sun emerged on the horizon during a heavy shower.

May 1996 was an odd month, it came close to being the coldest on record in the CET series, and despite the high frequency of north-easterly winds, in Tyneside sunshine was above average, about as much so as in Mays 1995 and 1997, although Norwich had a grey month as per usual with that wind direction.

Edited by Thundery wintry showers
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May is quite an interesting month down here. Certainly not a month I associate with prolonged settled weather which doesn’t tend to take hold until later on and into June. May actually has as many thundery days as August down here. I do love the combination of sharp light, strong sun, vibrant colour and normally lower humidity though, the latter two of which change by July and August, but also the first proper convective spells if there haven’t been tastes already in April. Here are some mixed memories of Mays gone by.

2019 - generally a very bland month but a lot of usable weather. Notably cold early on and wet in the first week.

2018 - superb month, and possibly the best May I can remember clearly

2017 - thunderstorms (1st, 11th,  19th and 27th). The heatwave and plume storm at the end of the month was a winning combination.

2016 - thunderstorms (7th, 22nd, 27th and 28th). Never hot but plenty of pleasant warm conditions. Very wet second week.

2015 - windy and westerly and cold mid month with high frequency of hail. 

2014 - westerly with gales in the first half, quite hot mid month then dull and wet again. There were storms here on the 19th but I lived in Egham then where a few rumbles on the 22nd was the sum total. 

2013 - lived in Spain but my records from home tell a cool and unsettled picture

2012 - very autumnal feeling and unsettled until the sudden and significant heatwave at the end of the month which coincided with the end of exams at university. 

2011 - largely forgettable and westerly after the thundery plume on the 6th/7th

2010 - another chilly and autumnal one until the sudden significant hot spell around the 21st. The dryness of the months preceding probably helped the high maxima and browning grass by months end

2009 - largely forgettable save for a week long spell of April showers mid month and very warm at the end of the month

2008 - lovely week of weather from the 6th to 14th but showers before then, then cool and cloudy, then very wet and sometimes thundery final third. Spectacular thunderstorm on the 9th - best of the year.

2007 - terrible, that is all. The first full week was one of the wettest of the year and the late bank holiday was cold and wet. It was so bad here that June was a marked improvement despite national opinion.

2006 - thunderstorms! (10th, 11th, 12th and 21st). The first three were part of a generally warm first half, but the second half of the month was again very wet and Atlantic influenced.

2005 - thundery opening, but notably cool from then until the final third. A very thundery rPm spell with three consecutive days of thunderstorms on the 21st-23rd. One day of notable heat on the 27th.

2004 - very wet stormy first week, thunderstorms on the 10th and 11th, then no rain for the rest of the month and some very summery conditions from the 15th onwards. Fond memories of this May.

2003 - westerly and wet, and sometimes very cool, until hot weather arrived at the end of the month during half term week

2002 - westerly and very wet, although a brief heatwave mid month broke down with a good lightning show early on the 17th

2001 - cloudy and cool first third, briefly cold and wet mid month, but between all that plenty of sunshine and feeling warm, especially the second half

2000 - thunderstorms in the first half, alternating cool and warm, then a more westerly unsettled second half

1999 - warm but unsettled and thundery. Absolute humdingers on the 27th and 29th that will stay in my memory for years

 

Overall, I find May an interesting month but not necessarily reliable for settled conditions. June is definitely calmer here, and in the last ten years, April has drawn the aces more often than May.
 

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From ones that I can remember: May 2008 (very warm first half but the second half was ordinary. It was one of the warmest though in the series). May 2018 (obicously very sunny and mild/warm)

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Thanks for postings so far. Indeed in recent years April has eclipsed May for lengthy dry sunny and preety warm weather. However, it doesn't have the feeling of May, less light, less sunshine levels, less chance of notable warmth, less growth etc. 

A high pressure directly overhead in May can't be beaten in my book. My perspectives are based on observations in the Lake District, for the NW quarter of the UK (NW Eng, N Ireland, SW/W and NW Scotland), May can be every bit as good as June sunshine wise, and often drier, thanks to increased chance of northerly, easterly airstreams - the latter especially deliver the goods to the NW. By June the return of the westerlies arrive, with the jet deflected northwards again, many places further south tend to fare better being more under the influence of the azores high, this difference then becomes ever more marked and ingrained as the summer wears on. In some years we get lucky and are spared the atlantic influence in June, but it has much greater threat in June than in May.

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May memories

1979 Remember the remenants of snow drifts lingering under the walls which were mostly covered in dirt and black particles,not sure what that was,maybe still due to burning of coal back then.

1987 Cool and because April was so warm I believe it is the only time May has been colder than April

1989 What can I say,very warm and the sunniest month for 5 years and was also witness to the 'Halifax storm' which holds the UK 2 hour rainfall record of 198mm

1990 Yet another great May but not as good as '89

1991 Cool but the driest here in modern times

1992 Glorious,similar to 1989

1995 Another great May

1996 Very cool with many days of snow flurries here in the pennines

2018 Fantastic stands alongside 1989 and 1992

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1 hour ago, damianslaw said:

Thanks for postings so far. Indeed in recent years April has eclipsed May for lengthy dry sunny and preety warm weather. However, it doesn't have the feeling of May, less light, less sunshine levels, less chance of notable warmth, less growth etc. 

A high pressure directly overhead in May can't be beaten in my book. My perspectives are based on observations in the Lake District, for the NW quarter of the UK (NW Eng, N Ireland, SW/W and NW Scotland), May can be every bit as good as June sunshine wise, and often drier, thanks to increased chance of northerly, easterly airstreams - the latter especially deliver the goods to the NW. By June the return of the westerlies arrive, with the jet deflected northwards again, many places further south tend to fare better being more under the influence of the azores high, this difference then becomes ever more marked and ingrained as the summer wears on. In some years we get lucky and are spared the atlantic influence in June, but it has much greater threat in June than in May.

I can only imagine how beautiful the Lake District must look in late spring. I have yet to go. Fortunately, my location does pretty well in easterlies and westerlies where sunshine is concerned, but prone to more cloud in anticyclonic westerlies earlier in May due to the effect of the Severn Estuary and of course, the more common cyclonic easterly influence in May naturally brings more cloud, where further north it's sunnier.

The return of the westerlies is always a notion of weather lore I've never bought into, as there's rarely a long enough period of non-westerlies to warrant a notable return. I of course can't account for years before I was born, where that may have been more the case. I did a bit of own data crunching through my records of wind direction and speed (since 2004), and was hoping to find a significant difference between the two months, and annoyingly (albeit rather expectedly), they're almost as likely as each other to produce westerly influence (I've taken that as winds between 225 and 315 degrees), May slightly more so since 2004. Less surprisingly though, is the higher likelihood of easterlies in May and northerlies or southerlies in June.

Notably westerly Mays

- 2015 23 days / 2013 22 days / 2011 22 days / 2007 22 days

Notably non-westerly Mays

- 2008 4 days

Occurences of June more westerly than May

- 2004, 2008, 2016, 2017 (2011, 2012 & 2014 were both as westerly as each other)

 

Alas, I only have to wait until 2034 to generate some sort of climatic average, 2040 for complete decades hmph.

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Yes late April to late June, early September to mid October best times to visit the lake district. However nothing can beat a cold clear freezing day with snow and frost covering everything, fells resplendent white, sadly becoming rarer by the year it seems. 

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The autumn colours peak in late October but by then the Atlantic is usually roaring full steam. Mind a crisp sunny day in late October and early November is very evocative. Sorry off on a tangent..

 

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May 2018 was a sunfest.

May 2008 had a decent thunderstorm

Mays 1997, 1998, 1999 had some pretty decent thunderstorms.

May 1997 was an incredible month: heat, wintry weather, frost, thunderstorms, torrential rain, funnel clouds, brilliant sunshine. May 1995 was a weaker version of this. 

May 1992, although after the first week, for the warmth and towards the end, the thunderstorms.

May 1990, those first few days. 

May 1989 was wonderful with one good thunderstorm 

---------------------------------------------------

Remember the night thunderstorm of mid May 1985, the snow falling at the start of May 1987.

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My short term memory seems to be escaping me, I had to look a twice at the CET figure for May 2017 being exactly the same as May 2018, yet I don't remember anything especially notably warm about it. It was very pleasant with sunshine and dry weather.

Not surprised to see May 92 as one of the warmest on record.

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May 2018, as I don't really remember those of 1989, 1990 or 1992.

Remember May 1996, 2010, 2012 (excluding the final week) and 2013 as being absolutely dreadful.

I've wondered how we never seem to have a very warm anomaly in May like we can with April or June. The warmest May on record in London had an average high of 21.2c, which is only about 3c above normal. April 2011's 19.7c avg max was just over 5c above normal! June 1976 at 25.5c was 4.5c above.

Edited by B87
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My two standout May weather memories: May 1992, stopped playing a snooker game to look outside at a torrential thunderstorm (in the half term holiday at the end of the month) & May 2012, watching the Olympic torch relay go past in beautiful blazing sunshine.  Last two weeks or so were excellent, the only decent summery spell of the year here.

I remember May 2010 being quite nice here but looking at the Met Office sunshine anomaly maps I think we had a better month than those further East - it was also a dry month here.

The last few Mays have been sunnier than average here so we're probably overdue a bad one, May 2019 was also very dry here with only 32mm.  Conversely, we've also not had a standout May to rival April 2007, 2011 or 2020, so it could go either way!

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Not prime standout but we've had a run of very good May's recently 2016-2018 notably so very warm and sunny and dry, every bit as good as other very good mays. 

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1 hour ago, damianslaw said:

My short term memory seems to be escaping me, I had to look a twice at the CET figure for May 2017 being exactly the same as May 2018, yet I don't remember anything especially notably warm about it. It was very pleasant with sunshine and dry weather.

Not surprised to see May 92 as one of the warmest on record.

It was a wet and humid month where I was with a lot of mild nights. There was also some spectacular thunderstorms to the west of me (I was in Southampton so they must have been over the Bournemouth / New Forest area) around the Bank Holiday weekend I think, following a few hot days.

Edited by Quicksilver1989
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3 minutes ago, Quicksilver1989 said:

It was a wet and humid month where I was with a lot of mild nights. There was also some spectacular thunderstorms to the west of me (I was in Southampton so they must have been over the Bournemouth / New Forest area) around the Bank Holiday weekend I think, following a few hot days.

Makes sense not an especially dry month but guess sustained tropical maritime that gives murky grey skies and very mild nights but maxima only a little above average, conversely may 2018 brought very high maxima but minima close to average thanks to clear skies.

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2 minutes ago, damianslaw said:

Makes sense not an especially dry month but guess sustained tropical maritime that gives murky grey skies and very mild nights but maxima only a little above average, conversely may 2018 brought very high maxima but minima close to average thanks to clear skies.

Yup I think June was also way above average but also exceptionally wet. It was another summer month where the well above average minima bumped up the CET, although there was a very hot spell around the summer equinox that year. I saw my best thunderstorm in the UK during the following July in Southampton. Summer then went rapidly downhill after that.

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1 hour ago, damianslaw said:

Not prime standout but we've had a run of very good May's recently 2016-2018 notably so very warm and sunny and dry, every bit as good as other very good mays. 

Mays 2016 and 2017 were not on the same level as 2018. We had decent Mays in 2008, 2009 and 2011, but then nothing good again until 2016.

May 2019 wasn't anything special either.

The warmest Mays here (1989 and 1992) don't stand out like the warmest April, June, July, August do with respect to their temperature anomalies.

Edited by B87
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1992 was the best I remember, although the warm sunny weather didn't start till the second week. There was about 2 weeks of it followed by a thundery breakdown in half term week that lasted into early June (which went very similarly to May). May and June really saved that year which was virtually snowless, had a rubbish July and August and a disappointing April and September (though October was more interesting, unusually cold and frosty).

1995 and to some extent 1997 and 2005 were memorable for their topsy turvy weather, 2001 was pretty decent as were 2016 and 2018. But it's true we haven't really seen a May that was hot and sunny almost throughout like April 2007, July 2006 or Aug 1995 in the last 30 years.

Worst one undoubtedly 2015. Like a crap October; never exceeded 21C all month (even 1996 managed that), day after day of drizzle, light rain, constant nagging westerly winds and 14C temperatures. It came between a notably sunny April and June which made it stick out for its wretchedness even more.

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We should be able to get a May with an average high between 22-23c, just looking at the other positive anomalies between April and August.

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13 hours ago, damianslaw said:

Not prime standout but we've had a run of very good May's recently 2016-2018 notably so very warm and sunny and dry, every bit as good as other very good mays. 

May 2016 was quite cold, especially later in the month. I’m glad I was in spain during that time.

It was a really miserable period of weather.

 

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8 hours ago, Sunny76 said:

May 2016 was quite cold, especially later in the month. I’m glad I was in spain during that time.

It was a really miserable period of weather.

 

Looking at the mean CET value it was quite warm, but again like 2017 I suspect it was the milder minima that cancelled out the rather average maxima.

Goes to show how our perceptions of months April - October tend to be based more on maximum temps and sunshine levels, very mild months with copious tropical maritime air, don't register even though such conditions prop up minima significantly - this goes to winter months as well. Our most notable memories come courtesy of high temps caused either by anticyclonic conditions or a very warm southerly sometimes thundery airstream.

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I recall May 2016 being quite a warm month overall, quite notably so relative to the long-term average but only a little above the average for recent years - as measured by the CET it was about as warm as May 2001.  Averaged nationally the Mays of 2016 and 2017 were both sunnier than average, especially in the west, but not really by enough to threaten records, whereas May 2018 edged it as the sunniest May on record for the UK as a whole, with the warmest and sunniest weather coinciding exactly with the two May Bank Holiday weekends.  

The brief heatwave and breakdown in May 2017 were frustrating because I spent it up on holiday in North Yorkshire, missing out on a notable thunderstorm in Exeter, and then on the day that North Yorkshire was hit by thunderstorms I was away in South Tyneside which had just a few rumbles.  I was also away when Exeter was hit by thunderstorms in late May 2018.  Indeed, I think the last time I saw decent thunderstorms in May was in late May 2008 when I was in Norwich.  Possibly the most memorable May for thunderstorms was 2006, which I spent in Leeds and there were some quite potent ones on the 12th in particular.  In Tyneside the second week of May 1999 was pretty thundery and I recall thunderstorms early and late in May 2005.

May 1992 certainly sounds like it was an interesting month but it was the year before I started taking weather records and I don't remember it at all.  In the north-east of England there was a marked temperature contrast with one or two frosts in places in the second week and then an exceptionally warm southerly midmonth.  I imagine that the easterly wind off the North Sea would have caused some rather ordinary "coastal" weather there in the last week while most other areas were getting hot sunshine and thunderstorms. 

The first May of my weather records, 1993, was a stark contrast to 1992, notable for its high frequency of cloudy easterlies, and for an exceptional spell of frontal rain that came down from the north on the 13th and gave over 50mm in 24 hours - this also brought snow to the Scottish Lowlands for a time.  Some parts of the Scottish Lowlands also got especially hit by snow on 11/12 May 1995.

I agree with the earlier posts suggesting that we have a lot of untapped potential for much warmer Mays than the warmest that we've seen recently.  A May with similar synoptics to the Aprils of 2007, 2011 and 2020 would probably result in a CET of 14.0 to 14.5C.  It's even more marked in the case of June, as similar synoptics in June would probably give us a CET of 17.5 to 18.0C, but we haven't had a June CET above 16.1C since 1976.

Edited by Thundery wintry showers
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On 28/04/2020 at 10:49, B87 said:

We should be able to get a May with an average high between 22-23c, just looking at the other positive anomalies between April and August.

MAY

CF

1  27.4  Lossiemouth (Moray) 1990

2  28.3  Rothes (Moray) 1990

3  28.1  Heathrow Airport (London) 1990

4  28.3 Cheltenham (Glos) 1990

5  28.0 Jersey- St Louis 1995: 27.8/82 Canterbury (Kent) 1923

6  28.6 Cheltenham (Glos) 1995

7  29.0 Waddon (London), Ulcombe (Kent) 1976

8  28.0 Plumpton (E Sussex) 1976

27.6 Northolt (London) 2018

9  27.8 Southampton-Mayflower Park 1976

10  27.2 Langar (Notts)1959

11 28.3 Long Sutton, South Farnborough (both Hants) 1945

12 30.6 Camden Square (London)1945

30.0 Greenwich (London) 1945

13 28.9 Southampton-Mayflower Park 1998

14 30.0  Bromley (London) 1943

15 28.2 Lee-on-Solent (Hants) 1998

27.9 Southampton-Mayflower Park 1998

16 27.8 Camden Square (London) 1925

27.2 East Ham (London) 1925

17 28.9 Huddesfield-Oakes (W Yorks) 1952

18 30.0 Camden Square (London) 1952

28.9 Kensington Palace (London) 1952

19 28.3 Glenbranter (Argyll and Bute) 1948

20 28.3 Hillington (Norfolk) 1910; 28.1/82.6 Cheltenham (Glos) 1992

21 30.6 *Camden Square (London) 1922

29.2 Towy Castle (Carmarthen) 1989

22 32.8 Camden Square (London) 1922

32.2 Bexleyheath (London) 1922

23 31.7 Isle of Grain (Kent) 1922

24 32.2 Camden Square (London) 1922

31.1 Kensington Palace (London)1922

25 31.0 Farnham (Surrey), Heathrow Airport (London) 1953

26 29.3 Norwood (London) 1880

27 30.7 Heathrow (London) 2005

28 30.6 Camden Square (London) 1944

28.3 Kensington Palace (London), Rugby (Warws), Mansfield (Notts), Oaken (Staffs) 1944

29 32.8 Horsham (W Sussex), Tunbridge Wells (Kent), Regents Park (London) 1944

30 31.7 Kensington Palace (London) 1947

31.3 *Camden Square (London)1947

31.7 Mildenhall (Suffolk), Kensington Palace and Wealdstone (both London) 1947

 

The maximums for each day rise in line with other months.

 

Edited by hillbilly
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