Friday, 19 June 2009

The Summer when the grass turned brown.

For many parts of southern England June looks like being the 4th consecutive month with below average rainfall, but at the moment the fields and gardens are as green as in the Emerald Isle. Not so in June 1976. March and April were both very dry in that year, with monthly rainfall totals in southwest London below 10 millimetres. May was slightly wetter, but still with a total rainfall more than 50% below average. It was a sunny Spring, but May was actually cooler than this May (2009). June 1976 began fairly cool and changeable. The temperature on the 1st only reached 19 Celsius and nearly 2 millimetres of rain fell overnight. The following 2 days were even cooler with highs of only 16 Celsius, but then pressure rose and so did the temperatures. The maximum on the 9th reached 30 Celsius, and although temperatures then fell closer to average, it remained largely dry with sunny spells. During the third week it was rather cool and changeable, and on the 20th nearly 7 millimetres of rain fell, but the last 10 days of the month were dry, hot and sunny. On the 22nd the temperature reached 27 Celsius, but then daily maxima read:- 30,31,33,33,34,33,29 and 29. It came as no surprise that the grass turned brown. It was not even a surprise that pubs around London ran out of beer. The Summer of '76, a record-breaker.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

It Never Rains but it Pours

The proverbial phrase in the title must be going through the minds of many members of the Labour Party, and is probably reinforced by the real thing falling from above.
As further storm clouds build, it's interesting to reflect on how bad June can be, meteorologically speaking of course.
The June of 1972 is often quoted as a bad one, but although it was very cool, the coolest in London since before 1900, it was also dry and not unduly dull.
The majority of very cool Junes have been wet, but given the thundery nature of rain in some summer months, wet Junes are not neccessarily cool. In June 1971 it was cool, very wet and also fairly dull, but for overall unpleasantness 1916 is probably the June winner. Apart from occurring in the middle of the 'Great War' this month was notable for persistently low temperatures and a huge sunshine deficit.
Last June (2008) was not too exciting, but since the cool 1991 June, the month has generally been noted for high temperatures (4 in the all-time top 10) and with only 1998 in the top 10 for high rainfall (90mm and placed at number 10!). It remains to be seen what the rest of this month brings, but even if it is as poor as 1991, there is hope. The storm clouds cleared in that year and gave a very uplifting July, August and September.