12 April 2020 – Hit and miss thunderstorm warning

Estimated rainfall accumulations from weather radar

Yesterday’s hurriedly issued yellow warning for thunderstorms and heavy rain by the Met Office was very accurate as far as maximum rainfall totals were concerned, but the area of the warning didn’t extend far enough southeast to cover the whole of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk, where in fact the most of the SFERIC activity was. The wettest spots appear to have been close to Soham and Thetford with a few pixels in the 40-50mm range.

Estimated rainfall accumulations from weather radar

Of course these estimates that I glean from five minute weather radar images are very coarse (5 km resolution?) but I think they do give a pretty good idea of what happened yesterday afternoon.

Courtesy of Blitzortung

It’s a good job we have the Blitzortung website because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have a clue about lightning activity in real time. The BBC forecast is no better and if you do see any on a map it’s usually after the event and not in real time. Amongst my many gripes about the Met Office (and it’s quite a list) is that they still refuse to disseminate any of the very accurate one minute SFERIC data they collect for the UK and around the world (I still fondly remember the SFUK26 and SFUK27 bulletins that disappeared many years ago). How useful would an a mobile app that displayed the latest SFERICs data on a map that alerted golfers or hillwalkers when there was lightning around? But then again we do have Blitzortung, so that’s another monopoly (a bit like weather radar) the Met Office could and should have exploited for the benefit of the British public but never did.

Courtesy of UKMO

The interesting thing was that the Great Oz could see he hadn’t covered the right area in his warning before 13 UTC but did nothing to amend it, lest he drew attention to the fact that he had. I noticed early enough – but the Great Oz was obviously quite certain that his NWP was correct (see embedded tweet animation) – perhaps he ought to let me have his private number for next time.

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