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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 31, 2014

  • Huge swathes of Holland were underwater following the 1953 floods

  • Ice storms are notorious for bringing down cables under the vast weight of rapidly built-up ice

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The Black Country –

Birthplace of Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley for

1st – 10th January 2014

SUMMARY

These 10 days were very mild and wet. Rainfall was more than twice the normal for the period. Rain fell on every day, often accompanied by strong winds. Winds were entirely from the North Atlantic, laden with moisture.

TEMPERATURE

1. Mean maximum 8.3, 47F

2. Anomaly +2.3

3. Mean minimum 3.2, 38F

4. Anomaly +1.9

5. Average of max.& min. 5.7, 42.3F

6. Anomaly +2.1

7. Highest/date 10.6, 51.5F 5th

8. Lowest/date 0.5, 33F 5th

9. Number air frosts 0

10. Number grass frosts 2

11. Lowest grass/date -2.0, 28.5F 10th

12. Mean 30cm soil depth 5.4, 41.5F

PRECIPITATION

13. Days with rain/snow 10

14. Total fall 55.1mm

15. Wettest day 13.5mm 8th

16. Days snow falling 0

HUMIDITY

17. Relative Humidity at 9h 88%

AIR PRESSURE

18. Average at 9h 998mb

19. Highest/date 1013mb 9th

20. Lowest/date 988mb 3rd

21. N 0 ,NE 0,E 0, SE 0, S 4, SW 4, W 2, NW 0, CALM 0

Weather in Dudley for

11th – 20th January 2014

SUMMARY

This was another damp and dreary spell of weather. Rainfall was frequent but less than the beginning of the month. Once again winds were strong at times, and entirely from south westerly directions.

High pressure with very cold air lies to the north east over Scandinavia, but so far it has not made any inroads towards the British Isles.

However, there are some signs that by the time you read this we shall be affected by cold easterly winds and some snow – at least for a few days.

TEMPERATURE

1. Mean Maximum 7.6, 45.5F

2. Anomaly +1.7

3. Mean minimum 1.8, 35.5F

4. Anomaly +0.3

5. Average of max. & min. 4.7, 4.5F

6. Anomaly +0.6

7. Highest/date 9.6, 49.5F

8. Lowest/date -0.5, 31F

9. Number of air frosts 1

10. Number of grass frosts 5

11. Lowest grass/date -4.0, 24.5 12th,14th

12. Average 30cm soil depth 5.1, 41F

PRECIPITATION

13. Days with rain/snow 8

14. Total fall 27.9mm

15. Wettest day 9.2mm 18th

16. Days snow falling 1

HUMIDITY

17. Average relative humidity 9h 87%

AIR PRESSURE

18. Average at 9h 1001mb

19. Highest at 9h 1017mb 11th

20 Lowest at 9h 986mb 17th

WIND DIRECTIONS

21. N 0, NE 0, E 0, SE 1, S 5, SW 2,W 0, NW 0, CALM 2

PAST JANUARIES

28th 1940 It is unlikely that many readers will know much about this extreme weather event which destroyed so much wild life in the countryside in the first full year of the Second World War.

Glazed frosts are rather rare in lowland Britain, being much more common on our hills and mountains. They occur when air, with temperatures below freezing, lies on the ground with much milder air above it. Rain falling through the cold air is chilled and freezes instantly into ice on every object it hits. Canadians call this phenomenon an ice storm, and they should know all about them as they occur frequently during their Arctic winters.

The affected area covered much of southern England from Kent in the east to the Cotswolds and then south west to Exmoor, through the Midlands to Derbyshire, and south again to Salisbury Plain and the extreme west of Sussex. I haven't any information about the Black Country, but I would be surprised if it had not affected us.

In Hampshire, steady moderate rain caused ice to begin to form in the late afternoon of the 27th and continued all night and the next day with a force 4-5 easterly wind. All exposed surfaces were thickly coated in a layer of ice, and windows and doors facing eastwards became ice covered and impossible to open.

There are reports of drivers being frozen into their cars as doors and windows froze them in. At Stonor Hill, near Petersfield, great branches of beech trees could be heard crashing down all night. Telegraph wires 1.5mm thick were coated with ice 30mm, 1.2in thick.

At Cirencester in the Cotswolds, rain fell for 48 hours with an air temperature of -4, 25F, to -2, 28F, so that bushes and shrubs thickly coated with ice sounded like castanets when the wind caught them. All walking was out of the question as the slightest slopes were lethal.

FROZEN STIFF

The toll on wildlife was immense. Many birds simply froze to their perches and there were reports of birds so thickly coated as they flew, just crashing to the ground where they perished.

Rabbits, hares and pheasants froze to the ground in the fields so that if any foxes survived they were not short of food at a time when the human population was strictly rationed. It was calculated that at Andover, the weight of the ice on the telegraph poles amounted to 6 tons between the poles. – no wonder the wires snapped!

YOU WEREN'T TOLD

It was not reported in the papers or on the BBC at the time, as all news was censored in case it helped the Germans.

The winter of 1962-63 experienced several glazed frosts but they were not very significant, producing only thin layers of ice.

There have been a few occasions since, especially over high ground, but I think that you will not have experienced them if you do not live on the Black Country Ridge.

29th 1701 There was a period of severe frosts, followed by severe gales from the south. There were many ships lost at sea, and much damage was caused inland.

30th 1945 Most of January had been frosty over the country but it ended when milder Atlantic air flooded across the country.

NOW THAT WAS A FLOOD!

1697 Long lasting floods have affected Somerset this year, and have been very persistent. However, the worst floods in historic times occurred as a result of an inundation from the sea.

There is great debate as to its cause – was it a storm surge coinciding with high spring tides, or was it a tsunami as a result of an earthquake in the mouth of the Bristol Channel, or was it a result of the slumping of muds and sands, which had accumulated for thousands of years, down the edge of the continental shelf?

The area inundated stretched from Barnstaple in Devon to Gloucester and along the northern edge of the estuary as far as Cardiganshire, about 350 miles of coastline. Bristol was flooded, and the Gwent Levels, Wales, inundated.

Water levels were about 3m, 10 feet above normal, inundating dozens of Somerset villages. The floods even reached as far as Glastonbury.

The death toll was estimated at 2,000. As might be expected preachers blamed it on the wickedness of man – the Puritans blamed the Anglicans, and the latter blamed the Puritans.

The height to which the water rose is marked in many churches in these low lying levels, which were a marshy expanse regularly flooded at high tides after the ice retreated from the British Isles. Much of the region is only slightly above sea level at present, with some patches below. The present rise in sea level indicates that the whole area may well have to revert to its former marshy state in future.

31st 1901 An air pressure of 1,055mb was recorded at Aberdeen. This is officially the highest ever measured in the British Isles.

1953 The infamous east coast floods drowned at least 300 people and across the North Sea several thousands in the Netherlands. It was caused by a massive storm surge generated by a very deep depression moving eastwards across the Orkneys and then south eastwards down the North Sea.

This surge moved southwards, pushing a wave of water in front of it, overtopping sea defences at high spring tide; 24,000 houses were destroyed, 160,000 acres of farmland flooded, twelve gasworks and two power stations inundated.

A few hours earlier the Princess Victoria car ferry from Stranraer to Belfast sank in the teeth of a north-westerly gale, in the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the loss of 133 people.

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