Glastonbury - A festival of weather extremes

  • Image 1: Flooding in 2005 didn't dampen spirits. Photo by Yui Mok/PA Archive/Press Association Images

    Image 2: A satellite image of the UK on Saturday 29th June 2013 showing clear skies over Somerset

    Image 3: A group of friends are seen basking in the fine weather of the current festival. Photo by Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

  • Glastonbury - A festival of weather extremes
    29.06.2013 14:36

    Glastonbury Festival is world famous for a number of things, namely its wide variety of music and performing arts. However, with this year’s festival already in full swing, it is worth reflecting the varied weather of festivals gone by – something else the festival is famous for. Luckily for those gathering at Worthy Farm this year, benign summer weather has so far helped prevent the mud baths that have blighted previous gatherings.

    The year of 1998 may have been the joint-warmest on record at a global scale, but on a much smaller scale, the weekend of 26-28th June saw a complex area of low pressure sweep from west to east across the northern half of the country bringing conditions akin to a storm more synonymous of October than midsummer. Strong winds and bands of heavy rain were inflicted upon Somerset. Severe storms and flash flooding occurred, giving festival-goers a swamp for a campsite, and quite understandably prompting the early departure of a few.

    Poor weather at the festival in 2005 led to flash flooding across the site with some areas under 4 feet of water. An area of low pressure to the south of the UK tracked slowly north-eastwards over the weekend bringing a succession of troughs as well as a waving cold front, culminating in torrential rain and thunderstorms just as the festivities were beginning. A number of stages were struck by lightning and the resulting headlines included the likes of: ‘A once in a hundred year occurrence’ and ‘Two months of rain in a matter of hours’.

    After a hiatus in 2006, Glastonbury Festival returned in 2007 with flood defences reportedly costing £750,000. Unfortunately, the weather was unsettled for the duration of the long weekend with fairly persistent bouts of rain – although the steady nature of the rain coupled with the new flood defences meant that conditions at the site remained better than those of two year prior.

    Quite atypically, the weather at this year’s Glastonbury Festival has been somewhat uneventful. Aside from some intermittent and mostly light rain on Thursday, conditions at Worthy Farm have been dry and fine since the gates opened on Wednesday. In fact, as the revelries gather momentum, the weather is responding kindly with virtually clear skies and plenty of warm summer sunshine on offer this afternoon (see image 2, left). As the remainder of the weekend unfolds, high pressure remains in place to the south-west of the British Isles, helping to weaken any approaching weather fronts. Temperatures are set to peak at around 21C on Sunday afternoon and remain at a comfortable 11-14C during the coolest part of the final night at the most popular farm in Britain.

    By: John Lee