El Niño

2015 – Summary

With El Niño conditions developing very early in the year, it was almost certain that it would influence the weather, but it is never easy to say how or what its influence might be here in the Northern Hemisphere. As most weather models suggest when El Niño conditions exist, 2015 experienced the full range of extreme weather events around the world, most notably it being, globally, the warmest year ever with 2016 forecast to be warmer still! Whether this was entirely due to El Niño or by man-made influences is a continuing debate, but man-made global warming is now being thought of as the prime influence. Whether you are a believer in global warming or not, with these conditions continuing, they are set to influence our weather into next year.

Rising temperatures was a phenomenon that passed us by here in Askernish. For us, 2015 was our windiest, wettest and dullest year. As the year progressed, a full range of monthly records tumbled with the more unwelcome easily outnumbering the more pleasant ones being broken. This contrast was best highlighted by the months of June which was our windiest, wettest, coldest and dullest on record compared with October which was our warmest. August was our driest but perversely had the most rain days to be recorded during that month. New monthly atmospheric pressure records both high and low also occurred throughout the year. These often pass unnoticed and are of little concern to most observers, but they too are an indication of changing weather patterns.

The persistent wind is what most people will remember about 2015. This awareness was heightened with the occurrence of another explosive cyclogenesis or “weather bomb” in December, and then the Met Office personalising the storms by naming them for the first time later in the year. What followed that decision was Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank, all of which occurred during the final two months of the year. All these storms resulted in strong winds and heavy rain ensuring that this was our windiest and wettest year.

Six of the twelve months, January, March, May, June, July and November were our windiest ever with these months experiencing their own record high wind speeds and wind gusts. There were 9 gale days during the year which is yet another record here at Askernish. There were 3 in January, 2 in March, our first ever in November and 3 in December, all of which (apart from December) are records for this station. The average wind speed for 2015 was 11.9 mph which produced a wind run in excess of 100,000 miles for the year for the very first time.

One exceptional respite from the winds occurred in October when the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin passed further south than expected and left us eerily becalmed for three days. During this period, with an average wind speed of 0.6 mph and a wind run of just 14.0 miles, the 16th October became our calmest ever day!

With the winds came the rain with March, June and July being our wettest on record. In total, 1152.2 mm of rain fell during the year on 291 rain days exceeding our previous record by 30.8mm set only last year. Again in complete contrast the months of October and August were the driest ever here in Askernish but there were 28 days in August when rain fell, a record high for that month. Another milestone occurred on the 14th December when no rain fell on that day making it our first dry December day since 26th December 2012!

With wind and rain, there is always the associated cloud which seemed to shroud our islands for long periods during the year. It was therefore no surprise that 2015 was our dullest year with the months of June, July, October and November setting their own records by being our dullest. In February there were 5 consecutive days when NO sunshine was recorded, yetanother station record. One bright spot, literally and contrary to the gloom, May was oursunniest on record.

Globally, 2015 was the warmest year ever but not here. January, May, June and July were our coldest ever and only October and December broke any records, both being our warmest. There
were only 4 days during the year when the temperature reached 20°C and 61 when it exceeded 15°C, the latter being the lowest ever recorded in a year. There were 7 days when snow fell during the year, a record annual high.

A summary of each and every month plus the four seasons precede this post on the blog.

Statistical Summary – 2015

Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)         9.3
Mean (min+max)        9.3
Mean Minimum           6.8
Mean Maximum        11.7
Minimum                     -3.3       18th Jan
Maximum                    24.7      23rd Aug
Highest Minimum       13.5       30th Jun          Lowest recorded in a year
Lowest Maximum        2.8          3rd Feb
Days above  20˚C          4
Days above  15˚C        61                                 Lowest annual total
Days below  0˚C           11
Days below  -5˚C           0
Air frosts                         10

Rainfall (mm):
Total for year           1152.2                              Highest annual rainfall
Wettest day                22.6     5th May
High rain rate              67.0     9th Dec
Rain days                     291                              Highest number recorded in a year
Days >= 2.0mm            167                              Highest number recorded in a year
Days >= 10.0mm            26
Days>= 20.0mm               2
Dry days                         74                              Lowest number recorded in a year

Wind (mph):
Highest Gust                 76.0      8th Jan
Average Speed           11.9                            Highest annual average wind speed
Wind Run             105417.9 miles                   Highest annual wind run
Gale days                  9                                   Highest number recorded in a year

Pressure (mb):
Maximum             1043.65         7th Feb
Minimum                947.68        14th Jan

Days with snow falling                  7               Highest number recorded in a year
Days with snow lying at 0900      4

Total hours of sunshine           1011.0            Lowest annual total
Sunshine days                           265

Autumn 2015 – Summary

The beginning of December heralds the start of the meteorological winter and the end of autumn which consists of the months September, October and November. The many extreme weather events that have already occurred around the world this year, including the fact that 2015 will be the warmest Globally, have been attributed to the El Niño conditions that have existed for most of the year, plus global warming. While El Niño has a less obvious effect on our weather here in the Northern hemisphere, its influence upon weather systems around the world can be long lived.

Here in Askernish, it might surprise people that this Autumn has been our driest and also our dullest. Although the enduring memory might be the storms that have been personalised by the Met Office who now name them, as much as they huffed and puffed, gusting to 67 mph and reaching wind speeds of 41 mph, they failed to surpass the winds of Autumn 2011 when the seasonal average wind speed was 11.7 mph

Summaries for the three months that constitute Autumn precede this summary on the blog.

Statistical Summary

Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)             10.6
Mean (min+max)            10.6
Mean Minimum                8.4
Mean Maximum             12.8
Minimum                           1.1            20th November
Maximum                        19.3            11th September
Highest Minimum           12.9            10th September            Record low for Autumn
Lowest Maximum            5.6             20th November
Air frosts                             0
Days above 20˚C            0
Days above 15˚C           14
Days below 0˚C               0
Days below -5˚C              0

Rainfall (mm):
Total for period              205.6                                                  Record low for Autumn
Wettest day                     16.4        12th September               Record low for Autumn
High rain rate                   65.0        23rd September
Rain days                         69
Days >= 2.0mm               33
Days >= 10.0mm               2
Days>= 20.0mm                0
Dry days                           22

Wind (mph):
Highest Gust                   67.0         12th November               Record high for Autumn
Average Speed              11.3
Wind Run                  24,717.6 miles
Gale days                           1

Pressure (mb):
Maximum                1037.63         30th September
Minimum                   981.48         15th November                 Record high for Autumn

Days with snow falling                       0
Days with snow lying at 0900            0

Total hours of sunshine       179.4 hours                                 Record low for Autumn
No. of Sunshine Days              60                                            Record low for Autumn
Sunniest Day               8.6 hours      29th September

Summer 2015 – Summary

With the passing of August, it signals the end of the meteorological summer which consists of the months of June, July and August. Despite July being the hottest on record globally, a phenomenon that passed us by as our summer was the coldest, wettest, windiest and dullest on record here at Askernish. As mentioned in the Spring summary, this is an El Niño  year so nothing should really come as a surprise.

Summaries for the three months that constitute the summer season precede this on the blog, but it is a summer that is probably best forgotten.

Summary for Summer 2015

Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)                     12.4                                             record low for summer
Mean (min+max)                   12.7
Mean Minimum                     10.2
Mean Maximum                     15.2                                              record low for summer
Minimum                                  2.6                13th June
Maximum                                24.7               23rd August
Highest Minimum                 13.5                 30th June
Lowest Maximum                 10.4                   1st June              record low for summer
Days above 20°C    –   4
Days above 15°C    –  46                                                             record low for summer
Days below 0°C     –    0
Days below -5°C    –    0
Air frosts 0

Rainfall (mm):
Total for period               238.2                                                record high for summer
Wettest day                        17.4                    9th July
High rain rate 3                  4.4                    5th June
Rain days                              71                                                 record high for summer
Days >= 2.0mm      –     35                                                     record high for summer
Days >= 10.0mm    –       6
Days>= 20.0mm     –      0
Dry days                          21                                                      record low for summer

Wind (mph):
Highest Gust               50.0               1st June
Average Speed              9.6                                                      record high for summer
Wind Run             21107.6 miles                                           record high for summer
Gale days                     0
Predominant Wind Direction      –       South

Pressure (mb):
Maximum             1039.32                 8th June                      record high for summer
Minimum                976.84                 1st June                       record low for summer

Days with snow falling                   0
Days with snow lying at 0900      0

Total hours of sunshine               293.3                                  record low for summer
Number of sunshine days              73
Sunniest day                           14th June      12.4 hours         record low for summer

Spring 2015 – Summary

The arrival of June heralds the end of the northern hemispheres’ meteorological spring which consists of the months of March, April and May. Unsurprisingly to those who live here, this spring was the wettest and windiest on record here at Askernish and we also experienced lower than average temperatures during this period.

For the first time since 2009, computer simulations are suggesting that an El Niño event is likely as we head into the second half of the year while scientists have already declared that El Niño conditions exist in the Pacific. The fact that they exist so early in the year is unusual and worrying considering Texas has already experienced severe flooding and people have died in India’s recent unseasonal heat wave.

El Niño is the name given to describe an up welling of warmer than average water in the Equatorial Pacific, and is known to disrupt climate patterns around the world. During previous El Niño events, much wetter winters have occurred in Southwest USA. For California, the developing El Niño will therefore be very welcome news as the state has recently suffered the worst drought on record due to a chronic lack of rainfall. Amongst other areas which will be affected is Northern Australia, where drought conditions are expected. El Niño is also associated with warm and very wet weather during summer months along the coast of northern Peru, an increase in typhoon activity in South East Asia and a weaker monsoon on the Indian sub-continent.

As for Europe and the UK, the consequences of El Niño are much less clear. Research suggests that the main impact is more likely to be felt in winter, causing colder, drier conditions in Northern Europe, and wetter, milder winters through southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

During the last El Niño of 2009/2010, the winter across northern Europe, including the UK was exceptionally cold. But there are many other variables which affect Europe’s climate and there was a deep, protracted solar minimum at the same time, which is known to increase the likelihood of colder winters. One of the other main consequences of the predicted El Niño later this year would be to boost global temperatures. It could mean 2015 will become the hottest year globally on record – but probably not here in Askernish.

One way or the other, El Niño will certainly have the potential to grab the headlines later this year and is it’s influence already at work?

Summary for period  March – May 2015, the meteorological spring

Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)            7.7
Mean (min+max)           7.8
Mean Minimum           5.1
Mean Maximum         10.4
Minimum                    -0.4                 24 March 2015
Maximum                   16.8                14 May 2015                                  Lowest spring maximum
Highest Minimum       9.1                  21 April 2015
Lowest Maximum        4.7                02 March 2015
Air frosts                          2

Rainfall (mm):
Total for period       297.6                                                                        Highest spring rainfall
Wettest day                22.6            05 May 2015
High rain rate           44.4              10 May 015
Rain days      70
Dry days      22

Wind (mph):
Highest Gust      69.0                 09 March 2015                                  Highest spring gust
Average Speed    12.1                                                                         Highest spring record
Wind Run        26682.4 miles                                                                Highest spring record
Gale days 1

Pressure (mb):
Maximum           1037.86           21 April 2015
Minimum             976.87            30 April 2015

Days with snow falling   0
Days with snow lying at    0900 0

Total hours of sunshine    431.2