The curate’s egg

The bishop says to his mealtime guest, a curate, “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr. Jones!” The timid curate replies, “Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!”

From a cartoon by the Franco-British cartoonist and author George Du Maurier captioned “True Humility”
9 November 1895 Punch magazine.

Yesterday’s locally heavy rainfall across parts of Scotland was poorly captured by the UKMO rainfall SYNOP observational network (fig 1). Even the estimates that I made of it from the 5 minute radar images barely did it justice (fig 5). The SEPA automatic network rain gauges lie a little thicker on the ground, but even so, there are still some mighty big gaps too (fig 2). If yesterday afternoon monsoon like deluge in Strathpeffer was typical of what was going on across Scotland as I’m sure it was, it’s no wonder you couldn’t get a rain gauge in the right place. Some villages local to Strathpeffer missed the worst of it whilst others got inundated. The river Peffery which runs down the strath caused pluvial flooding further down the valley in Dingwall (fig 4). Remarkably none of these torrential showers were thundery in nature, despite there being a yellow warning in force for thunderstorms from the Met Office for most of yesterday.

Figure 1 – 06-06 rainfall totals

Apart from the 31.4 mm recorded at Altnaharra there’s little sign of anything untoward in the 24 hour totals up to 06 UTC this morning.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of SEPA (36 hour totals ending 09 UTC 11 July 2019

As you can see the SEPA network did manage to catch a number of the larger (36 hour) totals. But the rainfall totals did remind me a bit of the curate’s egg , with high totals scattered amongst some pretty ordinary ones such as the 1.6 mm at Aviemore and the 3.8 mm at Loch Glascarnoch. The largest 36 hour total I found was at Urquhart close to Dingwall, which did manage to capture the intensity of the rainfall during yesterday afternoon.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of SEPA

The scene in Dingwall yesterday evening which was very reminiscent of the last pluvial flooding event there in November 2006.

Figure 4 – Dingwall flooding courtesy of Highland Council

Finally my rainfall estimates from radar images, even on the highest mode, failed to pick up the rain at Urquhart, but the total of 43.9 mm for Strathpeffer couldn’t have been too far of the mark.

Figure 5

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