Wet June breaks long standing records

Wednesday 08th Aug 2012 by theWeather Club

As the more rain hammers down in parts of Northern England leading to more headlines of misery and pictures of sandbags the Met Office has released figures for June 2012 which puts some if this years events onto some statistical perspective.

Overview
The weather was dominated by low pressure over or close to the UK, with associated weather fronts. These brought rather cool days, some very large rainfall totals and also some strong winds early in the month. There was an almost complete absence of warm, settled spells.

The UK mean temperature was 0.3 °C below the 1971-2000 average and it was the coolest June since 1991. Daily maximum temperatures were well below normal, particularly in many central and eastern areas, with few warm days. Almost all areas were much wetter than normal, especially across much of England and Wales, southern and eastern Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was the wettest June across the UK since 1910, and the equal-wettest June in England and Wales since 1766 - sharing the title with June 1860. The only area to avoid the deluge was the far north-west of Scotland which had a drier than normal year. Almost all areas were duller than usual, and it was provisionally the second dullest June since 1929, except the far north-west of Scotland was a sunny exception.

The maximum temperature of 28.6 °C was recorded at Gravesend (Kent) on the 28th. A minimum temperature of -3.5 °C was recorded at Loch Glascarnoch in the Highlands early on the 5th. In the 24 hours ending at 0900 on the 23rd, 93.8 mm of rain fell at Blencathra in Cumbria. A wind gust of 82 mph. was recorded at Needles Old Battery (Isle of Wight) during the 8th.

Impacts
The unsettled weather of the first few days affected some of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, including the Thames pageant on the 3rd. An unseasonably stormy day across southern England and south Wales on the 7th resulted in dozens of uprooted trees brought down power cables cutting power to nearly 300 homes across SW England. Road closures, bridge restrictions and cancelled ferries all caused travel problems.

Persistent heavy rainfall across mid-Wales during the 8th and into the 9th resulted in significant flooding in the Aberystwyth area. More than 1000 people were evacuated and 150 rescued, many from caravan parks inundated with flood-waters. A number of roads were closed and dozens of homes were flooded, with one whole village being evacuated due to concerns over the stability of a nearby dam. Prolonged and heavy rainfall across south-east and central southern England on the 11th resulted in localised flooding of roads and properties, there were also reports of flooding in parts of Yorkshire, including Sheffield and Leeds. However, worst affected was West Sussex where the flooding continued into the 12th affecting roads, caravan parks and hundreds of properties in the Chichester and Bognor Regis areas. A further stormy spell on the 14th and 15th brought some disruption to ferry routes. Rainfall on the 21st caused waterlogged ground at the Isle of Wight rock music festival and resulted in traffic chaos for motorists arriving on the island, many spending the night 21st/22nd in their cars.

Persistent, and often heavy, rainfall for much of the 22nd caused significant flooding across parts of Lancashire, Cumbria and West Yorkshire with around 500 properties affected by both surface water flooding and where rivers burst their banks. Roads were closed and train services on the West Coast main line were suspended. On the 27th, torrential rain resulted in more than 700 flood-related call-outs in Belfast and County Antrim. At the height of the flooding, many roads were impassable and about 1,000 homes were left without power.

Perhaps the most widespread and serious flooding occurred following thunderstorms and torrential rain on the 28th. Areas affected included the Midlands, NE England and parts of Northern Ireland and southern Scotland. As well as the flooding of properties and roads, thousands of homes were without power and both rail routes between England and Scotland were cut. Worst affected was NE England, where hundreds of homes were flooded, some 23,000 properties lost power after sub-stations flooded, traffic gridlock occurred in Tyneside as roads flooded and a landslide near Berwick closed the East Coast main railway line. Elsewhere, large hailstones damaged vehicles and greenhouses in Leicestershire and a man drowned in floodwater in Shropshire.

Lessons?
While the figures show confirm what many of us already knew, they threw into sharp relief the sheer relentlessness of the rain throughout the country for much of the month. They also highlight the inability of much of our infrastructure to cope with what may become increasingly common events.

The one silver lining to this very cloudy month was the improvement in river, groundwater and reservoir levels, which led to Anglian Water, Southern Water and Thames Water ending to the water use restrictions that they had introduced in April.