Large solar storm brings spectacular views of the aurora

23 06 2015

Updated 24 June 2015

The Space Weather team at the Met Office has been keeping a close eye on solar activity over recent days. A large solar storm resulted in the northern lights being seen as far south as Dorset and Bournemouth on Monday night.

Taken by Richard Cliff on Exmoor

Taken by Richard Cliff on Exmoor

A particularly active sunspot came into view during the early part of last week. This sunspot continued to grow in complexity which has resulted in a number of moderate solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which is when the Sun ejects some of its atmosphere out into space. This can be seen on the image below as a faint circle, almost like smoke. These travel at speeds of around 2 million mph. On Sunday one such CME was launched directly at Earth. Travelling at these speeds it still took almost two days to travel the 93 million miles from the Sun to Earth. When it hit Earths magnetic field it caused a Severe Geomagnetic Storm (A G4 storm on a scale of 1 to 5). It was this which caused the Aurora to appear in the skies of southern England on Monday night.

Solar flare released on 21 June

CME from 21 June visible as a faint circle

Large geomagnetic storms can result in disruption to power grids, which is why it is important that these storms are monitored and warned for, although fortunately the UK grid is more resilient to space weather than the grids in many other countries. There are no impacts on human health as a result of these solar storms, in fact they can have some very welcome effects in the form of increased aurora, both in effect and extent.

Our Space Weather advisors are now watching another CME, which looks like it could be heading our way. This has the potential to bring another night of spectacular aurora views on Wednesday night. To see the northern lights, wait until at least half an hour after sunset, go outside away from artificial lights, let your eyes accustom to the dark and look towards the north. There will be some cloud around tonight, check out our cloud cover forecast for more information.





Mixed bag for the start of June

17 06 2015

It has been a very varied weather picture so far this month.

It’s been dry and warm for the south east of the UK, with some places around London having received less than 5 mm of rainfall so far and areas such as Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire receiving less than 20% of the month’s average in places.

This year’s highest UK temperature so far, 26.8 °C, occurred at Kew Gardens (Greater London) on the 12 June.

Much of the rest of the UK has seen temperatures in general noticeably below average for June, continuing on from the rather cool May.  While rainfall totals are already close to the whole-month average in the central Scottish Highlands and in Nottinghamshire.

MeanTemp June

June began with two very unseasonal days, due to a deep low-pressure system to the west of the UK, bringing large amounts of rain and some strong winds to the UK, particularly southern areas. Apart from this, and some showery rain on the 5th/6th,

June so far has been relatively settled, especially over southern areas, although we saw a period of thundery outbreaks on 12th June affecting mainly southern areas due to a plume of very humid and warm unstable air moving in from France/Spain.

Mean temperatures for the UK so far this month have been 2 °C below normal in most areas, but colder in the far north-west of the UK and a little closer to normal in southern England. While the minimum temperatures have been well below average, by as much as 3 °C over some northern areas.

mean temperature sunshine duration rainfall
1-15 June 2015 Act (°C) Diff from avg (°C) Act (hrs) % of avg Act (mm) % of avg
UK 11.2 -1.8 117.6 69 31.3 43
England 12.5 -1.6 128.3 70 23.1 37
Wales 11.6 -1.6 121.6 70 41.8 49
Scotland 9.3 -2.0 99.3 66 43.9 49
N Ireland 10.3 -2.5 114.3 76 21.4 28

We would expect figures to be around 50% of the average figures by the mid month point.

For the latest weather forecast go to www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather





New cloud comes a step closer

16 06 2015

Newly discovered cloud Asperitas (Latin for roughness) has taken another step towards being officially recognized and named in the International Cloud Atlas.

The cloud has been named Asperitas because it looks like rough or turbulent seas and has been put forward for inclusion in the Atlas by the UK Cloud Appreciation Society.

Asperatus_Undulatus

Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society said “It’s really exciting to see Asperitas that bit closer to becoming official. It’s great that the general public and amateur observations have influenced the atlas, it feels very democratic. The internet has resulted in increased connectivity, these days everyone has a camera at their fingertips, and this has resulted overwhelming evidence for this new type of cloud”.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is currently updating the International Cloud Atlas, first published in 1896, and has now presented details of the new cloud to the World Meteorological Congress.

The WMO are making the Atlas more user-friendly and accessible and expect to publish the new edition next year. It is also expected to include the new cloud species Volutus (Latin for rolled), as well as some new “special clouds” like Homogenitus (from the Latin homo meaning man, and genitus meaning generated or made).

Met Office Meteorologist and Royal Meteorological Society George Anderson is heavily involved in updating the Atlas and said “Science, technology and photography have moved on in the past 40 years, so there is a need to update the Cloud Atlas”.

Met Office Scientist, Graeme Anderson, completed a dissertation on Asperitas, for his Masters degree at the University of Reading. He said “The challenge with this particular cloud formation is its rarity. It is very difficult to get good measurement data from this type of cloud if you don’t know when or where it will appear, or how long it will last. It became clear to me that these cloud formations did not fit into the existing classifications. It’s good to see this update taking place to make the International Cloud Atlas fully comprehensive.”

A scanned version of both volumes of the Atlas is available on the WMO website.  You can use the Met Office cloud spotting guide to help you identify different types of clouds, this can be a fun activity to try with children.

 

 

 





A brief spell of heat and thunderstorms

11 06 2015

Southern parts of the UK can expect some very warm and humid conditions on Friday, along with an increasing risk of some heavy, thundery showers.

Partial thickness values from the Met Office Global Model for 1200Z Friday 12 June

Partial thickness values from the Met Office Global Model for 1200Z Friday 12 June

Isolated thunderstorms are possible from Thursday, but they will become more likely and potentially more severe by Friday afternoon, with some locally torrential downpours possible, especially for parts of southeast England. A yellow warning has been issued for heavy rain. There is the potential for large amounts of rain is a short space of time, and this could lead to surface water flooding, but as is the case with showers, some places will stay dry. We are also likely to see frequent lightning, and hail is possible in places – as we saw last Friday.

Away from the south, there will be sunshine for many, though it will be cloudier with a little light rain in the far north.

Into the weekend, temperatures will take a tumble across much of the country. Saturday will see a band of rain across central areas, with occasional brighter spells either side. The rain will become increasingly light and patchy by Sunday with drier conditions developing for many. It will feel noticeably cooler though, with the return of some chilly nights.

Partial thickness values from the Met Office Global Model for 1200Z Sunday 14 June

Partial thickness values from the Met Office Global Model for 1200Z Sunday 14 June

With many people out and about at this time of year including at the Isle of Wight and Download festivals, we should be prepared for all types of weather over the next few days, from humid to cool and from rain to shine.





Summer returns but no heatwave

2 06 2015

There have been some stories in the press that a heatwave is on the way later this week.  Although we are expecting temperatures to rise over the coming days with some pleasant early summer weather, any very warm weather will be fairly short-lived.

After an unseasonably cold, wet and windy start to June and the meteorological summer, high pressure is expected to build across southern parts of the UK from Wednesday, resulting in a much quieter and more pleasant spell of weather.

By Friday, a plume of hot air from the continent could bring temperatures in the mid 20s°C  across south eastern parts of the country, but this in turn is likely to trigger some thundery showers. So although temperatures are likely to peak on Friday, this may not necessarily be accompanied by blue skies and sunshine, as a good deal of cloud is possible along with rather humid and hazy conditions.

Deputy Chief Meteorologist Martin Young said “although things will be a good deal warmer than of late, there still remains considerable uncertainty about how hot it will be and exactly where will see the highest temperatures on Friday, and the public should keep in touch with the latest forecasts”.

This coming weekend is likely to see temperatures a little lower than Friday’s in the south east, but plenty of pleasantly warm sunshine is expected across much of the UK with temperatures widely in the high teens, and reaching the low 20s°C  in parts of the south.





Predictions of a below average Atlantic hurricane season

21 05 2015

The Met Office Atlantic tropical storm forecast for 2015 is for eight tropical storms between June and November, with a 70% chance (the ‘70% range’) that the number will be in the range six to ten. This is below-normal relative to the 1980–2010 average of 12 tropical storms.

The forecast number of hurricanes — tropical storms with winds of at least 74 mph — is five (70% range three to seven); the average number of hurricanes is six.

Tropical storm Ana on 8 May 2015 as it approached the South Carolina coast. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Tropical storm Ana on 8 May 2015 as it approached the South Carolina coast. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The forecast Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index — a measure of the strength and duration of storms over the season — is 74 (70% range 40 to 108); the average ACE index is 104.

The North Atlantic hurricane season typically runs from June to November, but has already seen one tropical storm (Ana) make landfall in South Carolina.

The evolution of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the next few months will play a large part in the North Atlantic hurricane season.

Forecast centres around the world have now declared that an El Niño has begun in the tropical Pacific.

Joanne Camp, climate scientist at the Met Office, said: “El Niño conditions in the Pacific can hinder the development of tropical storms in the Atlantic, so how this develops will be important for the storm season ahead.”

While it is still too early to determine with confidence how strong this El Niño might be, forecast models from centres around the suggest this El Niño is likely to strengthen during the coming few months.

The tropical storm forecast is produced using the Met Office’s seasonal forecast system, GloSea5.

It has higher resolution than its predecessor, with better representation of the complex physical processes that cause tropical storm and hurricane development.

For regular updates on tropical cyclones worldwide follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.





Record May temperatures for Spain

14 05 2015

Update: On Thursday, records were broken once again across southeast Spain. Valencia equalled Lanzarote Airport’s 42.6C from the previous day. Other stations in the Valenciana region exceeded this value, with Xativa and Carcaixent reaching 42.7C and 42.9C respectively; however these are as yet unconfirmed so are not official. Either way, not only is this 42.6C a new Spanish record for May, but a European-wide May record.  

Meanwhile, the heat is spreading to other parts of Europe, with extreme warmth expected today along the north coast of Sicily and parts of mainland southern Italy.

A new record maximum temperature for Spain was set yesterday, with many local records also broken, and the heat continues today in the southeast.

Iberia Temps

The new record of 42.6C was recorded at Lanzarote Airport in the Canary Islands, beating the previous May record for Spain by a relatively large 2.5 degrees. It also beats the Lanzarote station’s own previous highest May temperature by a whopping 6 degrees.

The previous May record in Spain was 40.1C at Cordoba on the mainland, and Cordoba itself recorded a new May station record on Wednesday with 41.2C.

Met Office Global Model mean sea level pressure and temperature

Met Office Global Model mean sea level pressure and temperature

Further records could be broken today in parts of Andalucía, Mercia and Valenciana as air continues to feed in from North Africa. However, a cold front is pushing gradually southeastwards across Spain, bringing cooler air across much of the country by the end of the week.





Possible record heat in Spain, while heavy rain and snow affect the Alps

13 05 2015

Parts of Spain, Portugal and southern France are experiencing unusually high temperatures at the moment. On Tuesday, Seville recorded 38C, and today will be another very hot day for the time of year, with temperatures widely expected to reach the low to mid 30s Celsius.

Met Office Global Model mean sea level pressure and temperature

Met Office Global Model mean sea level pressure and temperature

The hottest conditions will be across the Andalucía region of southern Spain. If temperatures reach or exceed 40C in Seville today this will be a new May record. Cooler conditions will gradually spread from the north tomorrow, although another very hot day is likely in southern Spain. Temperatures are then expected to return closer to average in all regions by Friday.

Meanwhile, southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and northern Italy are at risk of heavy rainfall over the coming days, with heavy snow possible on Friday across the Alps. Up to 150mm of rain could fall within 48 hours, possibly leading to flash flooding and landslides in this mountainous region of Europe, as well as increasing the avalanche risk due to fresh snowfall.

Whilst neither of these two weather events in Europe will affect the UK, we are expecting some heavy rain of our own on Thursday. The band of rain will move across southwest England during the early hours and edge slowly northeastwards through the day, but become almost stationary across parts of Wales, central-southern and southeast England. However, northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will remain largely dry and fine.





Ten Tors

8 05 2015

This weekend sees the 2015 Ten Tors challenge and once again, the Met Office will be providing tailored forecasts for the organisers to help with event planning and coordination. This year, for the first time, an Operational Meteorologist will also be at Okehampton Camp for the weekend, providing the latest information on weather conditions across Dartmoor throughout the event to help the organisers make the necessary decisions to keep the teams safe.

Forecast

Chief forecaster Dan Suri said “The event may start on rather a wet note, with some heavy showers likely on Saturday morning”. These showers will clear later in the morning leaving a drier and brighter afternoon. It will be breezy too, making it feel quite chilly in the wind. Saturday night will be largely dry, but it is likely to become murky through the early hours of Sunday, with occasional drizzle and hill fog. The cloud base will probably lift a little during Sunday morning, but higher parts of the Moor are likely to stay murky, and whilst the odd brighter spell may develop with shelter from the wind, it will remain largely cloudy. Still quite breezy on Sunday too.

The challenge

The weather plays a major part in the successful completion of the event for everyone taking part. Around 400 teams of six take part in the challenge to complete the course. There are three different course lengths, depending on the age and ability of the team:

  • 35 miles
  • 45 miles
  • 55 miles.

The idea of the challenge is for the teenagers to become self-sufficient for the weekend – carrying everything they’ll need for the trek and making their own decisions.

At this time of year, conditions can be varied, from torrential rain to hot sunshine.

Ten_Tors_infographic_2015

For more information about the event, including the latest weather and a video explaining the variety of conditions you might expect on Dartmoor, take a look at our events pages.

Our National Park forecast service includes forecasts for a wide range of locations on Dartmoor, many of which are included within the Ten Tors event. You can also find forecast information on our weather pages.





Sunny and dry April

30 04 2015

UPDATE: YOU CAN SEE AN UPDATED STORY ON APRIL’S WEATHER ON OUR WEBSITE.

The early April figures (1st – 28th April) show it was a sunny and warm month over all, with well above average sunshine almost everywhere. At the moment it ranks as the fifth sunniest April across the UK as a whole. Some locations, particularly in the East of the country, have so far seen almost 50% more sunshine than average.  East Scotland has had its sunniest April on record, beating 1942’s 200 hours of sunshine by 2 hours and it was the second sunniest for England East and NE with 212.4 – just behind 2011 with 216.9 5 hours.

April Sunshine Anomaly 1981-2010

April Sunshine Anomaly 1981-2010

Mean temperatures for the month have been also mostly above average. The mean temperature for the UK was 8.0 C, which is 0.6C above the long-term (1981-2010) average for the whole month. Daytime temperatures rose above average in many areas, especially in the south, with the year’s highest temperature so far (25.6 °C) recorded at Faversham (Kent) on the afternoon of the 15th. This is the highest April temperature anywhere in the UK since 2011.

However, in contrast, under often clear skies, minimum temperatures have been near or below average, particularly in Northern Ireland and parts of northern England and southern Scotland. Katesbridge (County Down) recorded -8.0 °C on 27th April.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
 April 2015
Actual Diff to Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 8.0 0.6 199.2 135 41.6 57
England 8.9 0.8 209.1 135 23.3 40
Wales 8.5 0.9 203.3 132 32.4 36
Scotland 6.4 0.3 183.0 136 72.2 79
N Ireland 7.7 0.1 193.2 132 52.8 70

April has been a dry month, particularly across the southern half of the UK with only a third, to a half, of normal rainfall quite widely and less than 20% in some places.

Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910. You can explore our climate data on our website. Clearly these are early month figures and the statistics at the end of the month will change somewhat.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,912 other followers

%d bloggers like this: