February 2013 developed to give a slow drying out of the
extraordinarily prolonged wet spell that effectively started last April.
No significant rainfall was recorded after Valentine’s Day, and whilst
it was usually cloudy, high pressure over Scandinavia led to us
importing some low humidity and the resulting loss of the sodden squelch
of the previous weeks. The first part of the month gave two days of
rainfall totals above 15mm, the highest being 16.1mm in the 24hours from
the morning of the 13th. Other than a couple of dry days at the start
of the month, there was recordable rainfall on ten of the next twelve
days, with insignficant amounts on the remaining two. The total of 55mm
made this the lowest monthly figure since May last year.
Many will know the saying about Groundhog Day (USA) or
Candlemass Day (U.K.) which is February 2nd. ‘If Candlemass be fair and
clear there will be two winters in the year.’ So in the U.S. this
translates as being that if the Groundhog comes out of its burrow and
sees its shadow, it disappears back again because winter is not over.
Rather like St. Swithen and the threat of forty more days of rain
if July 15th is wet, these predictions work on the probability that the
weather pattern is becoming established one way or the other around
these dates. In the case of February, if the early part of the winter is
wet/mild, there is a good chance that February will show a change.
Anyway the prediction of a sunny 2nd February proved correct this year,
and February was the coldest month of its sort since 1996. As in
January, frequent cloud cover, this month due to the NE winds kept us
from severe frosts, and the lowest reading of -3.8C on the 19th
followed immediately by another nearly as cold night, compared with the
-9.9C early in February last year. But whilst 2012 turned very mild
after mid month, this year’s highest temperature of just 12.5C was
recorded twice on 14th and 16th. Overall February was much colder than
many lately, with a mean temperature of just over 4C.
Winter 2012/13 Weather Report:
In my February report, I commented about how a change in
weather pattern can be noted occasionally by folklore; in the case of
February, that which relates to Candlemass Day or, as the Americans
call it, Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd). In contrast with several recent
winters, February this time around was the coldest month of the three,
being about 1.2C colder than January; although the February of last year
was also the coldest of the trio, it was a milder winter overall.
Compare this with the winter two years back which progressed from an icy
December to a mild February which came out at a full 3C up overall than
this year. The Southwest is probably at variance with parts of the
country further north and east (which have been cold) by being able to
report on an average temperature figure for the three months at around
5.2C. The large number of gloomy days has been one factor in making us
feel that this winter has been a tough one to live through, but its
lowest minimum temperature of -4.8C in the first cold snap of the winter
is much higher than figures recorded in the previous four winters.
The other obvious feature of the winter was its wetness. No
rain has fallen since 14th. February, but the previous 76 days of the
winter recorded togther a massive 398.8mm. This averages out at over 5mm
every day during this period. Following on from the very wet 2012 this
accentuated the picture of flooded landscapes and potholed roads. The
change of pattern which ushered in the cold forecast by the folklore was
accompanied by a change of wind direction to first NW and then NE winds.
This pattern is common in late winter, and if it gives any solace, the
last time that this occurred was in 2006, which was followed in turn by
the last really warm summer that we have experienced.
Peter at Pottlelake