A wet start to summer

  • People relax in the sunshine at Stratford-upon-Avon on 5th June as temperatures reach 25C. Image: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

    12-hour cumulative radar for 2100 Wednesday 22nd June to 0900 Thursday 23rd June. Over 50mm of rain fell in a line from Hampshire to Essex, a month's worth in 12 hours. Image: MeteoGroup

    Left: 0600 satellite image for Thursday 23rd June. Right: Lightning strikes detected in the 24 hours to Thursday morning. Image: MeteoGroup

    Vehicles are driven along a flooded road in Writtle, Essex, as torrential downpours and flooding swamped parts of London and the South East in the early hours of EU referendum day. Image: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

  • A wet start to summer
    30.06.2016 15:02


    As June draws to a close, it’s safe to say summer 2016 has got off to a disappointing start. Thundery downpours led to flash flooding on several occasions through the month, with few decent spells of fine and settled weather to speak of. Unsurprisingly, preliminary data reveals June has been wetter than normal across most areas, with parts of south-east England, the Midlands and north-east Scotland seeing over twice their monthly average. Let’s take a look back at the month’s weather in more detail.

    The early part of the month was dominated by a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), with high pressure to the north driving an easterly airflow across the UK. Cloudy, cool conditions plagued eastern England during the first few days, with temperatures in Fylingdales struggling up to a high of just 8.9C on 2nd. In contrast, northern and western areas saw plenty of fine and warm weather, albeit with chilly nights – temperatures in Elphin, Sutherland dipped to a low of -0.1C under clear skies overnight on Wednesday 1st. However, the heat built more widely as a warm and humid airmass became established, and temperatures rose to a high of 27.8C at Porthmadog in north-west Wales on 6th, the highest of the year so far. The heat and humidity triggered some thundery downpours though, with 48mm falling at Kenley falling overnight Monday 6th and through the day on Tuesday 7th.

    Cooler and more unsettled conditions became established into mid-month. In particular, the period from 13-17th saw the jet stream displaced well to the south of normal, with slack areas of low pressure affecting the UK. These brought some slow-moving heavy and thundery downpours, especially to England and Wales, which led to some flash flooding across Birmingham and Cheshire. Meanwhile, a slow moving occluded front dumped 66mm on rain in 24 hours at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on 15th. Shetland, however, being to the north of the fronts, was the UK’s sunniest place for four consecutive days.

    The NAO flipped to a positive phase around 19th as low pressure returned to its climatological position near Iceland. A plume of humid and unstable air briefly affected the south-east quarter of the UK during 22nd-23rd, and some active thunderstorms brought frequent lightning and torrential downpours. Over a month’s worth of rain fell from Hampshire to Essex in less than 12 hours, and voters were forced to battle through flash floods to reach polling stations. Fresher conditions followed on 24th, but unsettled conditions prevailed through to the end of the month as showers and outbreaks of rain swept in on the westerly winds, leading to a very muddy start to Glastonbury. A slow moving front gave 51mm at Inverbervie Aberdeenshire on 25th, while another round of thundery showers broke out further south.

    So how are things looking as we move into the start of July? Last year a new July temperature record was set on the first of the month as the mercury soared to 36.7C at Heathrow, and nine stations across northern England and the Midlands recorded their all-time maximum temperatures. With westerly flows dominating, the coming July looks set to begin on a cooler, more showery note with highs near 20C, and some further interruptions to play are possible at Wimbledon through the coming days. However, there are signs that drier and more settled conditions may develop mid-month as high pressure builds in.

    By: Billy Payne