diamond geezer

 Saturday, December 29, 2018

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

The tables below show the weather for each day in 2018, 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. I've also emboldened any tally that enters double figures, making the general trend a bit easier to follow.

This is data from a weather station in Hampstead, so won't perfectly reflect your experience, nor the national picture. But it does present an intriguing picture of the year gone by, and 2018's weather really wasn't that bad.

Maximum daily temperature, Hampstead, 2018

30-35°C       84    
25-30°C    2510135    
20-25°C    31216913166  
15-20°C    101241912111 
10-15°C 11215102   2102114
5-10°C 1816115     4715
0-5°C 284       12
-5-0°C  21         

Hurrah, we had a proper summer this year. There were twelve days when the maximum temperature in London topped thirty degrees, which is twice as many days as either 2016 or 2017 managed, and a greater number than 2011-2015 combined. On top of that there were 35 days when the temperature topped twenty-five, which is a lot more short-sleeve weather than we normally get. The sultriest period was from mid-June to mid-August, with maximum temperatures running five degrees above the long-term average. February and March were the only colder-than-average months, courtesy of the fabled Beast From The East, which also delivered three days which failed to creep above freezing. It'd been five years since Hampstead last had one of those.

Minimum daily temperature, Hampstead, 2018

15-20°C      3201451  
10-15°C    71024111314912
5-10°C 1011119183 410151916
0-5°C 20151343   15912
-5-0°C 1127      111

Minimum temperatures show a similar rise and fall through the course of a year. Forty-three days this summer had nights with temperatures exceeding 15°C, ideal for sitting outside, and the temperature pretty much never went below 10°C. The end of the year enjoyed more than its fair share of mild nights, relatively speaking. Meanwhile there were as many as twenty-three nights, mostly in February, when the temperature dropped below freezing - again anywhere outside central London will have had rather more.

Hours of sunshine, Hampstead, 2018

12-15hr    3108852   
8-11hr  4156711810101 
5-7hr 643365645682
2-4hr 6109247488969
0-1hr 1079542144144
0hr 939121112151116

We're not used to seeing actual sunshine data, more usually simplifying the weather to "gosh it's sunny" or "oh it's dull". This year we've enjoyed thirty-six days with over twelve hours of sunshine, all of them in the middle of the year because the sun's not above the horizon long enough at other times. The three months from May to July were abnormally sunny, which was just as well after a seriously overcast April. Overall seventy days had no sunshine at all, although astonishingly there were only six such days between the start of May and the end of September. Sunshine totals in September and October were well above average, while December has proved to be particularly dreary.

Daily rainfall, Hampstead, 2018

10-20mm3 111 131121
5-10mm22331 2212 4
1-5mm461275 223396
0-1mm857624 51237

It doesn't rain that often in London, with 60% of days this year (the bottom row) completely dry. Even most of the wet days weren't that wet - only forty days exceeded 5mm, and fifty days were sprinkled with less than 1mm. Normally a few days are relentlessly wet, with over 20mm of rain, but Hampstead had none of those this year. Instead southeast England enjoyed a rare midsummer drought, with June's rainfall total barely a splash in the bottom of the gauge, and the grass not recovering its colour until the end of July. The other much-drier-than-average months were September and October, while March took the crown as the wettest month. But rainfall is a notoriously erratic statistic, often varying wildly geographically, and one torrential outburst can outrank weeks of lighter precipitation.

Extreme weather, Hampstead, 2018

 Thunder     4 22  1 
Frost 1127      111
Snow 134         

Finally, still based on observations in Hampstead, a look at some of the more unusual meteorological conditions. Fog has been absent this year, as has hail. As for thunder, late May was particularly rumbly and even November somehow delivered. Air frost was particularly prevalent in February, courtesy of the aforementioned Siberian blast, which is also why the heaviest snow flurries were in March. But aside from that frozen interlude and the summer's drought, the weather has been fairly ordinary. Here's to more typically atypical weather in 2019.

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