April sunshine totals 1981-2010

Figure 1

The sunniest place on average in the UK in the period between 1981 and 2010 is Shanklin on the Isle of Wight with 201.4 hours. In fact most of the climate stations in the top 17 can be found on the English Channel coast somewhere. On the southwest peninsula the fall off in sunshine the further away from the coast you are looks to be around 10%. The Met Office provide these 1981-2010 average in their DataPoint web service and are not neither straightforward to download or to parse, because they’re all in XML format and come as individual files for almost 300 locations. The things I have to go through for a climate story.

Figure 2

I contacted the Met Office at Jersey yesterday and asked them what their record highest April sunshine total and got this tweet back.

Figure 3

I make their total for the same period 249.5 hours, yesterday they had another 2.5 hours taking them up to 252.0 hours. I’ve tweeted the Met Office at Jersey and asked them to check their total, but so far have had no response. As far as I can see I’ve done the maths correctly, and my old maths teacher Mr Brightmoor I’m sure would have been proud of me. The 1981-2010 average for Jersey is 196.5 hours in April, so that makes the latest anomaly just over 28% above the average.

Figure 4

East Midland cloud vortex

An interesting vortex spins across a SC sheet lying over the East Midlands and Humberside in this morning’s visible satellite image sequence. I’m not certain what caused it, or if it’s an example of a single von Kármán vortex in the SC sheet, who knows. The animation would have been even better if we could have free access to 5 minute rapid scan satellite imagery, now that we can fly a spacecraft that’s over 900 million miles away remotely through the rings of Saturn, you wouldn’t have thought that 5 minute visible satellite images of the planet on which we all live would have been that difficult.

Figure 1

Figure 2 – 09 UTC Streamlines


Over 2,000 Met Office employees

I was really very surprised to find the other day that the Met Office had over two thousand employees. I found the information in their 2015 Employee Profile, and on the 31st of January 2015 it reported that they had 1,806 full-time and 239 part-time employees on their books, which adds up to 2,045 in total. I say very surprised, because I thought the total was closer to 1,500, but I may have been mixing that up with just the number of people who worked out of their Exeter HQ.

I won’t ask the obvious question, because I’m sure you can probably guess what that is, and because until just over five years ago I was one of ‘two thousand’, but I would have thought that with never-ending automation, and the rundown of our military bases in recent years, that numbers would (or should) have contracted and be closer to one thousand rather than two.

It was also interesting to see that the oldest person working for them was 71 years of age, and that there were 65 people over the age of 60 still working on. By law, I think that they’re required to publish their employee profile and diversity data which is a good thing, I wonder if Google, Microsoft, Amazon are obliged to do a similar thing.

Welcome rain on Sunday for some then high pressure bounces back

It seems that Sunday will be a wet day in southern and central areas, and that rain will be very welcome to the gardeners and House Martins there. How much rain they’ll get will probably be in the “not enough” category I would have thought (fig 1). May-day itself looks pretty wet over northern England but it should brighten up across the south by the looks of it. This of course raises the perennial question of why we have all our Bank holidays so early in the year.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of OGIMET

But during the course of next week according to the latest GFS model, the high pressure over cold northern Scandinavia will reassert itself and introduce another change in type and push all the frontal activity in western parts back into the Atlantic (fig 2). Thicknesses of less than 540 dam in April, with 15 knots of a chilly North Sea will not please any aspiring deck chair entrepreneur at Skegness though.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of OGIMET

Recent April circulation patterns

Figure 1

Another product that I can generate from my reanalysis application is a 4×3 grid of charts for monthly mean pressure and anomalies. Here are the circulation patterns for the last 12 years of April’s (2006-2017). If I ever do acquire a monitor that is larger than my Dell 24″, I may be able to pack more into a single screenshot! There is a broad similarity between 2015 and this April. April 2015 was the sunniest on record in many regions across the UK, and a comparison between it and the incomplete chart for this year show that although the mean pressure anomalies were not as large, the centre of the positive anomaly was further east at around 1° west (+7 hPa) rather than 10° west (+11 hPa) as it is this year (fig 1).

I’ve added extra functionality to the application to allow the selection of any area at any zoom level from around the world, as this example shows for Australia in 2016 (fig 2).

Figure 2

I’ve had a quick look at some of the results that I have generated and compared them with those from the IRICS, which is part of the Earth Institute, at the University of Columbia, and they seem to be in reasonable agreement, where they might not agree so well is when comparing monthly anomalies, because I use some extra long long-term averages when I calculate anomalies for my charts.

You may ask why I bother to write a bespoke application to do this when you can access anomaly charts from this great site, and my answer is, I have the time and resources, I love climate and weather maps, and because that’s what I do.

A sunny month in the south and east

Figure 1

A very sunny month especially across more southern and eastern areas of both Scotland, Wales and England, but always cloudier the further northwest that you went, and more generally over Ireland (fig 1). The sunshine figures are for some reason always more reliably reported in a SYNOP report from a AWS than are rainfall totals, as you can see from the Rx column (fig 2) most stations are at 100%. Jersey is still miles out in front this month, with over 240 hours of sunshine, being an Island in a relatively cold English Channel does help a bit in that department. There are several other chasing stations who also might crack the 200 hour barrier this month, and today might help in that regard at Camborne.

Figure 2

These sunshine totals are high but they don’t look high enough to beat the April of 2015 which was exceptionally sunny across the country (fig 3). ‘Sunniest since 2015’ doesn’t make much of a headline I’m afraid.

Figure 3 – Data courtesy of the Met Office

The Met Office do provide monthly climate statistics for Jersey, so it looks like this April they are currently around 122% of the average, with four days left of the month. I’ve Tweeted the Jersey Met Office to try and find out if they know what the sunniest April on record there, hopefully they will reply, and not by Tweeting ‘yes we do but we are not telling you’.

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the Met Office

A dry month apart from the last day?

Figure 1 – SYNOP data courtesy of OGIMET

Some of these plotted totals (fig 1) may be misleading due to missing SYNOP reports from some stations such as Edinburgh, but most of the others are more complete, but until the Met Office finally release their stranglehold on the daily NCM climate data, there is nothing I can do about it. Putting the Met Office monopoly on climate data in this country to one side (what ever happened to the free data campaign?), this may well end up being one of the driest April across some regions of the UK since 1938 (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Data courtesy of the Met Office

Having said that, Sunday is looking like a wet old day in the southwest, and may (excuse the slight pun) help redress the balance there (fig 3). I think a spell of heavy rainfall after a drought on dry cracked earth (like it is in our garden at the moment) can bring its own kind of problems with run off.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of OGIMET

26/27 April – Sharp frost across the south

A mild night in the cloudier windier north, but inland and further south where winds fell light, a moderate frost in places.

April 1-23 northern hemisphere temperature anomalies

The recent cold weather seems to have cancelled out the earlier warmth in the month of April, because temperature anomalies up until the 23rd are quite close to average across most of Europe, although Iberia has been unusually warm. The Arctic has been its exceptional mild self once again, and is probably one of the reasons why this recent ‘Arctic blast’ has been so relatively innocuous.

Figure 1

Will the BBC graphics look like this?

One of my readers after reading my article about NWP Web viewers has kindly pointed me to one that the MeteoGroup are trialling at the moment. It’s called MeteoEarth and it’s very ‘Google Earth’ like with a spinning globe, although you can display ‘flat’ maps. There are a number of basic overlays available, but they are just that quite basic, and the contoured pressure overlay does need further work to look right. It might be early days for their web application, because that’s what it really is, perhaps this is some kind of test bed. They seem to be encouraging people to embed MeteoEarth into their own websites, and you can also hook up to social media through various buttons. It makes me wonder if it resembles in any way the graphics engine that they are planning to use when they take over the BBC contract very shortly.

Figure 1 – Courtesy of MeteoGroup

The info box makes interesting reading as well…

Figure 2 – Courtesy of MeteoGroup

They are making use of global ECMWF data in the MeteoEarth, wouldn’t that be a turn up if they did the same thing at the BBC! I can’t see this happening somehow, especially the political ramifications of using European NWP data in preference to Met Office NWP data when, we are just about to begin the Brexit negotiations.