Minimal sun and warmer than average – February 2017

Weather Report for February 2017 and Winter 2016/17

As 1st March is the first day of meteorological spring it is appropriate to include this quotation from Henry Van Dyke: “The first day of spring is one thing and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month”

February was a depressing month with too many damp, overcast days and too little sunshine when we all need our fix of Vitamin D.

There were only nine totally dry days last month, which would lead one to expect a month with high rainfall. However, most of the days with precipitation brought modest totals, the wettest day being at the end of the month, the 26th, with 6.7mm.

February was the third successive month with below average rainfall totalling 55mm, which is 84% of the 33-year average or 10mm below. In fact the past winter (meteorologically the complete months of December to the end of February) has been much drier than normal with only 157mm in total for the three months, which is 63% of the 33-year average or 93mm below.

The mean temperature for February has been the quite the opposite with the mean 1.5C above the long-term average after the very cold January. Likewise, the mean temperature for the past three months was also above average, but by the smaller amount of 0.3C. This is almost 2C colder than the record for the previous winter of 2015/16.

Looking in detail at the strong sunshine data, I note that February gave us just 28.7 hours, which is so much lower than the average over the past few years of 60 hours. As regards the past winter sunshine, this was also down with a total of 121 hours compared to the average of 158 hours.

As it has been a warmer than normal month it is not surprising to find that the soil temperature at a depth of 5cm is 4.5C whereas the average is just over 3C.

Although the last winter month hasn’t been severe it is good that we have not experienced such a February day as Reverend Francis Kilvert experienced when he wrote in his diary on 13th February 1870. “When I got to the chapel my beard moustaches and whiskers were so stiff with ice that I could hardly open my mouth and my beard was frozen to my mackintosh. The baby was baptized in ice which was broken and swimming about in the font”.

A little more sunshine followed by a ground frost

The much colder weather arrived yesterday with the temperature pegged back to the average for February with a maximum of 7.4C early in the day. The thermometer fell away late morning, amongst the frequent showers, and with a clearing sky overnight the minimum was 0.3C just after 7am this morning. Strong sunshine yesterday amounted to 0.7 yesterday and rainfall 3.3mm.
Also notable yesterday was the very low barometric pressure of 983.2mb, reached at 13.41, which was the lowest pressure since 20th November 2016.

Driest winter since 2004 with two days to go

Sunday was another dreary, overcast day wth intermittent showers and a heavy burst just before 4.00am this morning. The total for the day was 6.7mm, which brings the amount for February to 50.6mm that is 77% of the monthly average. The winter total, with two days to go, is 152.9mm, which is 61% of the 32-year average and the driest winter since 2004.
Yesterday was another mild day with a maximum of 10.6C, 3.4C above the mean and another mild night when the thermometer reached its minimum at 06.54 this morning with a low of 6.0C
Today has starred with very low cloud, brisk winds and another rain band passing just before 08.00, moved on by the southerly winds.

Friday brought some brightness but rain overnight

There was some brightness around midday yesterday that raised the temperature to 10.9C. However, the effects of the next weather front arrived a couple of hours later with rain beginning to fall just before 2pm. The rainfall for the past day was 4.8mm bringing the total for February to 43.9mm, still 20mm below the mean. The UV level briefly rose to 2.1, the highest since 16th October.

Highest solar energy and UV level for four months

Friday gave us another very sunny day with 4.58 hours of strong sunshine. As a result the UV level at 1.8 and the solar energy generated was the highest since 23rd October. Fortunately the high winds generated by storm Doris had abated with a maximum gust of 21mph. Overnight the thermometer fell initially but the thicker cloud has produced a mild morning with a temperature of 7.7C at 08.00.
The thick cloud this morning is blocking out any possibility of sunshine and the wind is slowly increasing due to the barometric pressure falling since midday yesterday heralding the arrival further weather fronts.