Glorious Devon

Satellite Image 1230 UTC on Sun, 29 May 2016

Satellite Image 1230 UTC on Sun, 29 May 2016

Highest hourly solar radiation at 12 UTC sun, 29 May 2016

Highest hourly solar radiation at 12 UTC on Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Met Office really must get there act together and site an automatic weather station in the heart of Devon. Not just on the top of a hill, or the coast, or too close to the sea for that matter – somewhere like Tiverton perhaps. Here in Bradninch in mid-Devon the temperature is in excess of 21°C at 12 UTC and knocking on 3°C warmer that Exeter airport.

Highest Air Temperature 1200 UTC on Sunday, 29 May 2016 In WMO Block 03

Highest Air Temperature 12 UTC on Sunday, 29 May 2016 In WMO Block 03

Second of the season?

Normally at this time of year we would be looking for signs of the first tropical cyclone, but thanks to Hurricane Alex that formed on January 13th (2016) that’s not the case this year, and the extratropical low pressure system of 1014 hPa that’s sitting around 27N 71W according to the National Hurricane Centre [NHC] is the second of the season. There’s a ship and buoy report that make that centre may be several millibars lower than that on the o6 UTC chart. The NHC say that the nameless storm has an 80% chance of making the leap to tropical cyclone in the next day or so, and be named Bonnie all things being equal. Bonnie has rather an illustrious names as far as Hurricanes are concerned and of course this disturbance may not make it that far.

MSLP [hPa] for Fri, 27 May 2016 at 0600 UTC

MSLP [hPa] for Fri, 27 May 2016 at 0600 UTC

The latest sea surface temperature [SST] anomalies look slightly above average for this time of year which can only aid any further development of the feature. I notice that stories have already started to spring up in the United States about whether Bonnie will form and impact the US East Coast during Memorial Day weekend, we shall see.

North Atlantic SST Anomalies on 25 May 2016

North Atlantic SST Anomalies on 25 May 2016

The latest on this feature (28 May 1015 UTC) is that now it’s been given a designator tropical depression 2 by the NHC, but looks like it won’t make a full-blown tropical cyclone in this version of the Universe.

Later that day tropical depression 2 officially became tropical storm Bonnie but only just according to the discussion at NHC.

Storm Troupers: The fight to forecast the weather

Storm Troupers courtesy of BBC iplayer

Storm Troupers courtesy of BBC iplayer

Call me a bit picky but this latest documentary from the BBC to simplify the science of Meteorology did shoot itself in the foot when the presenter Alok Jha attempted to make a weather observation 1849’s style  which would have James Glaisher spinning in his grave. Before I start I’m not going to criticise him for making the time of his observation 12 PM midday, personally I always think that 12 AM is midday, and that 12 PM is midnight, and yes I do know it’s never been officially defined, at least according to the National Physical Laboratory [NPL], safer to use 1200 instead!

Wind Vane (courtesy of the BBC)

Wind Vane (courtesy of the BBC)

Anyway let’s have a look at the wind and the camera pans up to one of the wind vanes of Greenwich Observatory. Yes it’s flitting around from somewhere between south and west – no it’s not, it’s an easterly according to the weather expert Peter Moore. Perhaps they forgot the concept that the wind vane always points into the direction from which the wind is blowing?

Obs Pad (courtesy of the BBC)

Next estimating the wind speed, but surprisingly not using the Beaufort scale that was devised in 1805, obviously Glaisher thought it was much too complicated, perhaps he didn’t like FitzRoy, it’s funny that the Glaisher screen he came up with never really caught on either, damn those Stevenson boys. Anyway I digress, what did Alok come up with after spending all that time in the wind tunnel assessing the Beaufort scale – calm. Yes, even though it looked a good force 1 or 2 and was moving the vane it was calm, perhaps the wind tunnel had permanently affected him in someway. Now to give them the benefit of the doubt, it maybe that they inserted the footage of the wind vane from a shot taken earlier or later in the day, but come on haven’t they heard of the butterfly effect? I’ll wager that chaos thing comes up in the final episode though.

Red sky at night Shepherds delight

Red sky at night Shepherds delight

As for the opening ‘red sky at night’ explanation I always thought the old weather saying had something to do with dust particles in the higher atmosphere being associated with anticyclones? I’m sure Alok said ‘red sky at night’ meant that the sky was clear in the west and therefore good weather was on the way – which is completely contrary to what I thought was the real explanation. Never mind I’m sure that no one ever noticed.

The reanalysis of the Royal Charter storm was interesting though, but I just wonder where all the detailed stream lines (especially over the open oceans) came from, when the pressure field looks quite crude. The stream lines also don’t really align with the isobaric flow even allowing for geostrophic curvature. I suppose HH Lamb managed to extend his weather types back to 1861 so the pressure observations must have been there for him to do that. The evolution of the Royal Charter storm certainly looks rather unusual if the animation shown in the program is anything to go by.

Royal Charter Storm (courtesy of the BBC & Met Office)

Royal Charter Storm (courtesy of the BBC & Met Office)

One final thing is the title of the documentary – “Storm Troupers” – surely it should be “trooper” rather than “trouper”? As far as I can see a trouper is a member of an acting group called a troupe, but the title surely alludes to the Stormtroopers of the Star Wars films. Perhaps they erred on the phrase that wouldn’t lead to any copyright issues – who knows.

I thought this program was going to be just plain boring but I’ve learnt a bit, not so much about the weather, but more about how science documentaries are put together.

The latest Met Office mobile app

The Met Office have launched their new weather forecast mobile app a couple of days ago (24th May) to little fanfare as far as I could detect. According to them the new app will enable people to stay both safe and one step ahead of the weather, and give confidence to those planning their day wherever they are. They say that they have developed the mobile experience by using real-time consumer feedback (I wonder if they consulted the Weatherlawyer), and apparently the new app delivers faster, more accurate forecast information and warnings to the public, across both iOS and Android devices for up to seven days in advance.

It’s true this app is mobile, in fact it’s so mobile that I can neither download it or install it on my Android Nexus 5 or Nexus 10, aren’t tablets classed as mobile devices? Why can it only be installed on a smartphone, even then that wouldn’t be much good to me because I use a Windows phone. I’m not clear why they’ve restricted the type of devices this app can run on when the old app worked just fine on tablets – perhaps they have something else in the pipeline – maybe a special device for tablets and even the desktop because I’ve heard some unenlightened people are still using them? I seriously doubt this will happen, but I can live in hope.

So instead of an in-depth review here are two screenshots of the app in action, judging by these images it looks like it has been smartened up a bit, but nothing has fundamentally changed.

app1 app2

The Met Office Weather app is the only app on the market to feature pollen alerts and a UK rainfall map video of both forecasts and radar observations, as well as real-time air pollution figures, to help users plan for the expected conditions. In addition to the new updates, the app can provide a weekly snapshot of the weather for multiple locations and also personalises the delivery of information to focus in on the user’s specific requirements. Hourly updates and push notifications are available for those on the go, while the delivery of UK National Severe Weather Warnings are vital to ensure planning and safety in the event of severe snow, strong winds, ice or fog.

What I would personally like to see is 5 minute lightning reports which would push out an alert for any walker or golfer if a storm was within a certain radius. It maybe in there it’s hard to tell on the basis of just four screenshots, I seriously doubt that would happen because of the risk of litigation if some golfer was struck down on the 18th and they hadn’t been alerted. I would like to see extended NWP forecast frames out to at least T+240 and not just MSLP fields either, but again that maybe too close to selling of the family silver for that to happen.

A cold day in May

I bet yesterday – Wednesday the 25th of May 2016 – came across as a bit of a shock to some people in Eastern England. The first three weeks of May have been quite warm with the mean CET anomaly pushing +2°C, but yesterday the 06-18 maximum daytime temperatures at most sites in eastern counties were as much as 7 or 8°C below the long-term average. I noticed that St James Park in London was #2 in the largest negative anomalies, although it did manage to get to 14.8°C in mid-Devon.

Maximum Temperature Anomaly [06-18] UTC on Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Maximum Temperature Anomaly [06-18] UTC on Wednesday, 25 May 2016

It isn’t the first time this year that a particular weather situation has thrown up a low from the continent that tracks westwards rather than the usual eastwards, and looking at the latest NWP model forecasts for next week, it won’t be the last.

Synops for Wed, 25 May 2016 at 1800 UTC

Synops for Wed, 25 May 2016 at 1800 UTC

Global Temperatures April 2016

I’ve never used interactive charts before so this is a first time for me in WordPress. It uses the Amazon cloud to hold the chart and data but the lite version from Highcharts is free to use, let me know what you think. It shows all the monthly April anomalies since 1880 from NOAA’s GISS series. These values are combined land and sea mean surface temperature anomalies using the 1951-1980 long-term average. As you can see the trend is ever upward, and it’s plain to see that April 2016 was the warmest on record by far. Below is a screenshot from my Global temperature application showing the same thing, plus a 136 & 50 year linear trends.

April surface temperature anomalies GISS Global Land & Sea

The second graphic is a tabulated grid of recent monthly anomalies. The selected column and row coloured yellow is not working so I’ll have to try to come up with a fix for that and add it to my to-do list.

Tabulated April surface temperature anomalies GISS Global Land & Sea 1880 - 2016

Possibly the warmest May on record?

I have read reports that this month will end up being the warmest May on record thanks to a heat wave in the last 10 days of the month. Going by the latest provisional values of the Central England Temperature [CET] series, so far this month (up until the 20th) that looks a total impossibility. A quick bit of calculation to see just how hot the last 11 days of the month would have to be to beat May 1833 reveals that the daily mean would have to exceed 20.1°C for every remaining day of the month. The people who are making these predictions obviously didn’t realise just how exceptionally warm May 1833 was, +4.64°C above the long-term average. Currently May 2016 is tracking just inside the top twenty warmest at #19, with a mean anomaly of +1.97°C, which in itself is very high. Even if the short cold spell between the 14-16th hadn’t occurred it still wouldn’t have been anywhere close to beating 1833.

Daily Central England Temperature Warmest start to a May 1772 - 2016

Daily Central England Temperature Warmest start to a May 1772 – 2016

Remember you can keep an eye on the latest CET values in these special static pages dedicated to them.

Continuing collapse of Antarctic ice shelves will affect us all


Continuing collapse of Antarctic ice shelves will affect us all

Aircraft contrails bring warmer nights and conspiracy theories


News from the BBC: Aircraft contrails bring warmer nights and conspiracy theories

England and Wales getting wetter

The annual trend in rainfall indicated by the England Wales Precipitation [EWP] series maintained by the Met Office is upward since 1766 when the series started. I have been studying this data for a few years now and I think the best way of looking at the individual monthly totals is by using a 12 month running mean. This removes a lot of the noise you get from any one dry or wet month or season. After that you can add a linear trend through the results to identify what the real trend over time reveals. The first chart does just that and shows that in the last 250 years the annual rainfall for England Wales has increased by 46.5 mm. We do moan at times about the rain and the occasional floods that we have to endure but looking at the record of the last 250 years, the one thing you can’t say is that we’ve ever gone without! In fact for all the oscillating the trace does it never ever drops below 650 or climbs much above 1250 mm a year.

EWP Jan 1767 - Apr 2016

EWP Jan 1767 – Apr 2016

If we zoom in a little to the last 50 years (see chart below) the wetter trend has increased to 65.2 mm. The dry years of 1975 and 1976 are clearly discernible along with the recent wet years and flooding that occurred in 2000, 2007 and 2012. Conversely the last 50 years have also had some noticeable dry spells, notably in 1976 but more recently in 2011.

Monthly England Wales Precipitation - Apr 1966 - Apr 2016

Monthly England Wales Precipitation – Apr 1966 – Apr 2016

At the moment we are in a wet streak as the Americans like to call it, with an accumulated total of 1,128.9 mm in the 12 months to April, this is +23.4% above the 1961-1990 long-term average for 12 months. There is a definite pulse in the annual rainfall totals, its erratic and at times incoherent. I just wonder what the rest of 2016 will bring in the way of rainfall for England Wales?

PS Don’t forget I have static pages setup to display monthly rainfall charts and table from the EWP series and which I’ll endeavour to keep updated. I also keep tabs on the Met Office HadUKP site.