Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The weather's too warm for me.

The line in blue in the image above is my descent into Heathrow, compared with the temperature from the standard atmospheric model, in yellow.

I read in one of my gardening magazines that our Spring flowers were 3 weeks later than usual this year because of the cold winter and snowy start to the year. In fact for some species it’s more like a delay of 5 days per degree of temperature below the average. It didn’t seem to do my spring bulbs any harm and it seems that my garden has now caught up on itself and is very much enjoying the warm weather – unlike me. But like many parts of England and Wales it will soon be too dry for the gardens and we will be very short of water resources – if not to re-inforce our sensitivity to relatively small changes in our weather.

I didn’t worry much about my spring garden and I missed two weeks of it to be at a good friends wedding in Botswana – two meteorologists becoming one meteorological family! I’m not a big fan of hot weather so I’m not enjoying the current conditions in the south-east but in Botswana I knew what to expect. What I didn’t expect was quite how beautiful a country it is and I would definitely recommend a visit.

While I was there I had the opportunity to have an excellent visit to the Botswana Met Service and to meet the dedicated people there who do a fantastic job – thanks everyone for making me feel so welcome.

I also had the chance to see the Savute River channel in the Kalahari dessert in Northern Botswana, which was in full flow – the first time in almost 30 years – a really spectacular sight. The Savute Channel has only ever flowed intermittently. It last flowed from 1967 to 1981, but since then the channel and the Savute Marsh have been dry, a phenomenon that has occurred on and off over centuries. It does bring home that the stresses of a few weeks of warm weather in the UK, whilst important for us, doesn’t compare much with the water resource issues that exist in some countries.

On the way back I flew into Heathrow airport and as is my usual practice I have the temperature profile from the in-flight display, compared with the standard atmosphere profile. And it does compare well as you can see below. Notice, though, that even at 0650 in the morning temperatures in the UK were quite warm on that day, 9 April, at nearly 10 deg C.

The Society now has a South-East Local Centre which meets in Reading (currently Reading Town Hall) each month between September and July and I’m enjoying the meetings very much – good talks and good company.

At the June meeting Stephen Burt presented some observations from his weather station in Berkshire, with some interesting stats for June, and many thanks for Stephen for letting me reproduce some of these here. He recorded only 28% of the 1971-2000 average rainfall and 34% more sunshine. In terms of the mean maximum temperature, only 2006 has been warmer since the infamous 1976 summer.

Here are Stephen’s rainfall stats for the past 12 months. The figures in pale green are the % of the 1971-2000 climatological average and in blue the rainfall amounts recorded in mm.

This is Stephen’s record of daily sunshine in hours. June’s daily sunshine average was over 2 hours greater than that for the 1971-2000 daily average.

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