Stark contrast in climate compared to last year

Winter sun on the River Wensum in Norwich. Picture: LAURA BAXTER.

Winter sun on the River Wensum in Norwich. Picture: LAURA BAXTER. - Credit:

Weather Watch by Norman Brooks

The variability of our climate was well illustrated by the contrast between February 2018 and 2019.

After a bland winter season last year extreme cold significant snowfall assailed our region at the close of the month, but this year we were blessed with a very unusual late winter heatwave, culminating on the 26th when the maximum peaked at 18.9C, just exceeding the previous local February record of 18.6C in 2012.

Countrywide last month was the 16th warmest February since 1659 with February 1779 being 1.3C warmer, (-long before there were any concerns about mankind causing global warming!)

Due to the fact that there were frequent night frosts - twelve air frosts and sixteen ground frosts - it was only the daytime maxima that were above average, with the disparity between the mean monthly maximum and minimum being exceptional.

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Monthly mean maximum: 11.6C

Monthly mean minimum: 1.5C

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The resulting monthly average temperature of 6.6C was lower than the February means for 1945, 1990, 1998 and 2002.

The protracted nature of the late winter heatwave and the huge range of temperature experienced on a daily basis is illustrated as follows:


21st 15.5C 7.7

22nd 16.1 1.6

23rd 15.5 4.2

24th 15.9 0.9

25th 18.1 -1.7

26th 18.9 -1.4

27th 18.3 -1.2

The spell of southerly winds that brought us this unseasonal warmth also carried dust from the Sahara, with a fine deposit particularly noticeable on the windscreens and bodies of cars, and several evenings had a pronounced afternoon caused by the suspension of fine particles of dust in the atmosphere.

A worrying trend this year has been a lack of rainfall, with January measuring only 65% of the long-term average, followed by February with a 20% deficit with the period 11th-28th recording a mere 0.2mms.

Consequent upon a long-foretold forecast that the latter part of winter would be blighted by bitterly cold easterly winds, January and February experienced only three days when the wind had a minimal easterly component.

The rationale behind the forecast was that following a major disturbance in the atmosphere above the Arctic, high pressure would establish itself over Scandinavia, but instead it became persistent to the south-west feeding the flow of warm air over much of western Europe.

Statistics for February 2019

Total rainfall: 34.5mms (80% of average)

Wettest day: 8.2mms 2nd

Days with rain: 10

Coldest day: 4.4C 1st

Mildest day: 18.9 26th

Lowest minimum: -4.1C 1st

Average temperature: 6.6 (2.8C above normal)

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