diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 29, 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I thought I'd look back at what the weather's been like. Not because it's something we all want to reminisce over, but because I thought it'd be interesting to see what a full year's weather looks like.

The tables below show the weather for each day in 2016, grouped into categories and totted up by month. Yes, there are still three days to go, so I've used the forecast to predict the rest, and I'll come back later to update speculation with fact. You'll see I've blanked out the background of every empty cell, to make the pattern of the coloured data stand out more, and emboldened any tally that enters double figures.

This is data from a weather station in Hampstead, so the data won't perfectly reflect your experience, nor the national picture. But it does present an interesting picture of the year gone by, and who knew the weather wasn't really that bad?

Maximum daily temperature, Hampstead, 2016

30-35°C       311   
25-30°C     11383   
20-25°C     619201812   
15-20°C    61975414161 
10-15°C 147162053   151415
5-10°C 1120153      1515
0-5°C 62         1

Yes, we did have a summer this year - there were five days when the maximum temperature in London topped thirty degrees, and another sixteen when the temperature topped twenty-five. That doesn't sound like many, but with almost a hundred days making it past the 20°C mark there was plenty of short-sleeve weather to go around. The impressive month here is September, with maximum temperatures running three degrees above the long-term average, and no day ever cooler than 15°C. January and December were also atypically mild, with roughly half their days topping ten degrees, while February was the coldest month overall. Less than ten days all year failed to reach 5°C, while there's not a single occurrence of temperatures remaining below freezing all day, but that's the joys of the inner London heat island effect for you.

Minimum daily temperature, Hampstead, 2016

15-20°C      416138   
10-15°C  1  1524151818513
5-10°C 137716142  4261013
0-5°C 141523142     1612
-5-0°C 461       33

Minimum temperatures show a similar up and down pattern, with February slightly bucking the trend thanks to one unusually mild night. Forty days this summer had nights with temperatures exceeding 15°C, ideal for sitting outside, and the temperature pretty much never went below 10°C from June to September. As for cold nights there were fewer than twenty days all year when the temperature dropped below freezing - again anywhere outside central London would likely have more.

Hours of sunshine, Hampstead, 2016

12-15hr    141361   
8-11hr  27108466533 
5-7hr 476484775896
2-4hr 11559361287945
0-1hr 101185410326885
0hr 645145 263614

We're less used to seeing actual sunshine data, rather than simply thinking "gosh it's sunny" or "oh it's dull". So look, we've had only sixteen days with over twelve hours sunshine this year, but of course the sun's not always above the horizon that long. Meanwhile well over a hundred days saw only one hour of sunshine or less, with over fifty having none at all. December has been the month with the greatest number of entirely overcast days, way more than any other, whereas June was the most uncharacteristically dull month, and November the month that most exceeded seasonal expectations.

Daily rainfall, Hampstead, 2016

>20mm   1 1  1 1 
10-20mm212 211  23 
5-10mm213123 11211

It doesn't actually rain that often here, with more than two hundred days this year (the bottom row) completely dry. Even most of the wet days aren't that wet, with only 36 days exceeding 5mm, and 68 days sprinkled with less than 1mm. The true downpour days have over 20mm of rain - that's pretty much relentless - and there are only four of those. June turned out to be the wettest month, which may confirm your worst suspicions about the early summer, while December has been by far the driest, with less than a fifth of what you'd normally expect. But rainfall is a notoriously erratic statistic, often varying wildly geographically, and one torrential outburst can outrank weeks of lighter precipitation.

Extreme weather, Hampstead, 2016

Fog          217
Frost 541       33
Snow 2 12        
Hail   1  1      
 Thunder   1217  11  

Finally, still based on observations in Hampstead, a look at some of the more unusual meteorological conditions. Fog has been an autumn phenomenon this year, specifically this month (which has been unusually grey). Air frost has been rare, again because this is London, with the last frost of the winter in March, then starting up again in November. You may not remember the five days of snow, because all but one of them was an insignificant flurry (the exception being in January). It never hails much, but thunder is rather more common, this year especially in June. And overall, as you'd expect, the weather has been fairly ordinary. Here's to more typically atypical weather in 2017.

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