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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 05, 2014

  • While England spent the winter getting soaked, the US had some of its coldest ever periods, including freezing rain, which brought down cables in Tennessee

  • Louis Paulhan, the first aviator to fly from London to Manchester. The weather was on his side that day!

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THE BLACK COUNTRY

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley

11th – 20th April 2014

SUMMARY

This was a remarkably dry period with no rainfall. Temperatures displayed a wide range from night to day, with night temperatures close to normal and daytime temperatures well above. The average was well above normal. The measured humidity reflected the dryness of the atmosphere, reaching one of the lowest percentages recorded at this weather station.

TEMPERATURE

1. Mean maximum 15.2, 59.5F

2. Anomaly +4.8

3. Mean minimum 3.4, 38F

4. Anomaly +0.2

5. Average of max. & min. 9.3, 49F

6. Anomaly +2.5

7. Highest/date 18.3, 65F 19th

8. Lowest/date 1.5, 34.5F 19th

9. Number of grass frosts 3

10. 30 cm soil depth 10.1, 50F

RAINFALL

12. Days with rain 0

11. Total fall 0

12. Days with rain/sleet/snow 0

HUMIDITY

13. Mean relative humidity at 9h 66%

AIR PRESSURE

14. Average at 9h 1022mb

15. Highest/date 1030mb 15th

16. Lowest/date 1008mb 20th

WIND DIRECTIONS

17. N 0, NE 1, E 2, SE 0, S 1, SW 0, W 2, NW 3, CALM 1

APRIL IN THE PAST

25th 1908 Last week I referred to this weather event. Here is more about it. By any standards this was an extreme blizzard. Snow began to fall on the 23rd, so heavily that Newmarket races had to be abandoned. By the 24th nearly 22cm, 9 inches, of snow lay across East Anglia. The cloud cleared temporarily, but the snowstorm reasserted itself on Saturday 28th and delivered its worst.

The normally sheltered south and south east bore the brunt with 60cm, 24inches in Hampshire, and Berkshire. Oxford had well over 42cms, 12 inches, and even Alderney in the Channel Islands had 42cm, 12inches of snow.

The next day the sun shone brightly, the snow melted and floods ensued.

26th 1908 Who invented the windscreen wiper? On this date a certain Mr Gladstone Adams drove back to Newcastle, after witnessing the FA Cup Final when Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Newcastle United 3-1 – it left him in a bad temper! What made matters worse was the driving snow which made driving almost impossible. In the end he took down the windscreen altogether.

When he eventually got home he invented a device which would keep the windscreen clear of rain and snow – the windscreen wiper. Believe it or believe it not, it was not popular.

Windscreen wipers really took off after First World War. However, a patent had been taken out in America by Mary Anderson as early as 1905, and she too had difficulty getting it generally adopted in motor cars. But as in Great Britain, it became standard after the First World War in America.

Incidentally, windscreens had only arrived in 1903, and were made of ordinary glass. As you might imagine, the result was a rash of severe injuries caused by lacerations due to the glass.

27th 1919 There was a deep snowfall over most of the country, with a depth of 8-12 inches in the South East of England.

28th 1910 The French aviator, Louis Paulhan, flew his aeroplane to Manchester, landing before dawn in a field. As a result he won the £10,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail newspaper, for the first aviator to fly between the two cities. Several other aviators had attempted to win this prize, but bearing in mind the primitive nature of aviation in the early years, it is not surprising that they failed. In order to show the way for the pilot, the North Western Railway whitewashed its sleepers at every junction. Can you imagine that happening today?

29th 1883 Just as the new foliage was revealing itself on trees and bushes, a violent south westerly gale swept across southern England destroying much of its newly revealed beauty.

30th 1115 AD According to Simeon of Durham ... "nearly all the bridges throughout England were broken by ice." Bear in mind the well nigh impossibility of getting accurate accounts across the whole country in those days. I suspect that it may well be that this event was confined to the north east of England, and in any case, what does he mean by "broken by ice"?

The end of April is supposed to be marked by the arrival of the first cuckoos. I haven't heard a cuckoo for years. It is also the approximate date of the opening of the May blossom on hawthorn – the most widely used tree for hedgerows.

SOME INTERESTING THINGS

This month, for the first time in human history, carbon dioxide readings at the Mauna Loa observatory, in Hawaii, will exceed 400 parts per million (from a level of approximately 270 ppm at the start of the Industrial Revolution). The IPPC assert that to exceed this level will go beyond the safe limit when warming will be confined to a rise of 2C globally. It has peaked at this level a few times before recently, but the steady global temperature rise is in the form of a saw tooth wave form – not an even rise.

PITCH DROPLETS

The Australians set up an experiment at the University of Queensland in 1930, consisting of a quantity of pitch allowed to slowly fall through an opening, forming drops into a container beneath. For the first time it has been videoed. The Australians filmed the collision between the ninth blob to fall and the eighth sitting below. A strand of pitch still links the ninth to the remaining pitch above, which you can watch at bit.ly/84years. So, you ask, why the fuss? Well, pitch is actually a liquid, but so viscous that it will shatter if it is hit. Glass used to be said to be a liquid and to behave in the same way, but this is incorrect, so old windows will not be thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top.

SUBMARINES

There is no such thing as an undetectable submarine. As new techniques develop, so does the sophistication of the submarines to be undetectable. The nuclear submarines we have as a nuclear deterrent are, surprisingly, more detectable than modern diesel powered vessels. This is because diesel engines can be turned off, but the reactor in a nuclear sub cannot, and the reactor produces some noise which cannot be eliminated, and also a thermal signature.

The first stealth subs were the German U-480 in the Second World War and they developed the technique of being coated in rubber containing air pockets. The latest are the Italian/German designed subs using non-magnetic construction and nano-coatings on the hull, designed to reduce fouling caused by organisms which cause turbulent flow around the hull and consequent noise.

Apparently, the next generation subs will be the most difficult to detect because they will be equipped with hydrogen-cell propulsion and nanotechnology acoustic barriers. However, it will only be a matter of time before detection technology catches up.

RECENT WORLD WEATHER

EVENTS IN MARCH

1st Phoenix, Arizona, had a 70 day drought this winter which was broken by the arrival of a storm from California. Las Vegas was even drier with no rain for 85 days.

The Pacific storm first brought much needed rain to California, but the downside was the destruction of hundreds of homes in the Los Angeles foothills where, as a result of earlier fires, the ground was bare, lacking the vegetation to hold the rain. The result was mudslides which swept away homes and buried roads.

3rd The Isle of Man has had its wettest winter for almost 50 years, and the second wettest since records began. The total rainfall was 374.3mm, 15 inches, for the three winter months.

A heavy snowstorm once again created travel chaos on the US east coast. Schools were closed and in Washington DC the offices of the federal government were shut. More than 2,600 flights had to be cancelled in New York and Washington. It was the fifth winter snowstorm to hit the region since January. About 30,000 homes and businesses were without power after heavy freezing rain (sleet in North America) in Memphis Tennessee, brought down cables.

4th Malaysia (British Malaya, Singapore) suffered an extended dry spell lasting more than 50 days causing water shortages and agricultural problems.

It normally has a Tropical Rain Forest Climate, with the temperature scarcely deviating more than two or three degrees from a fairly constant 26, 80F, high humidity and abundant, almost daily heavy rainfall amounting to 95 inches, 237mm a year.

5th Rain eased after the once- in-a-lifetime storm forced the evacuation of homes, caused landslips and cut power to thousands of people across the Canterbury Plains, South Island, New Zealand.

6th The ice coverage of the Great Lakes in Canada and USA has reached the greatest extent since 1979. During a typical winter 30 to 40% of the lakes are frozen over. This winter some 80 to 90% are frozen. On March 5th the coverage reached 91%. This was the second ever greatest coverage.

9th Four new man-made gases, which contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer high in the upper atmosphere, have been detected. Two in particular are accumulating at such a rate that there are grave fears for the closing of the ozone hole, which it was thought would have disappeared by now. The precise origin of these gases is a mystery.

12th Chicago had more snow, making it the third snowiest on record with a total of 67.4 inches so far. This is about the amount of snow falling on the Black Country in 1947.

12-13th Another severe snowstorm in the New England states of the USA, causing chaos.

17th Harmful levels air pollution hung over northern France causing restrictions in car use in Paris. Over 4,000 motorists were booked for breaking the regulations.

17th South Africa had unusually heavy summer rains. The rainfall caused chaos in some areas, but drought-ridden maize growing areas welcomed the water.

26-27th Another powerful storm swept across eastern North America causing blizzard conditions. It was accompanied by strong winds causing severe drifting.

31st It has been the coldest ever December to March period in the history of Chicago. The previous record was set in 1872. This year the average temperature for the winter was -5.5, 22F.

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