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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 03, 2014

  • Birmingham in 2005, after the tornado had passed through

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The Black Country

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley for 21st –30th June


As expected, this was another ten day warm spell. It was a rather dry spell, just as the demand for water from the soil reaches its annual peak. About one quarter of the expected rain fell – in two days.

1. Mean maximum 20.3, 68.5F

2. Anomaly +2.2

3. Mean minimum 10.9, 51.5F

4. Anomaly +1.3

5. Average of max & min 15.6, 60F

6. Anomaly +1.7

7. Highest/date 25.0, 77F 22nd

8. Lowest/date 9.4, 49F 29th

9. Lowest grass/date 7.9, 46F 30th

10. Mean 30cm soil depth 16.8, 62F


11. Days with rainfall 4

12. Total fall 13.1mm

13. Wettest day 6.6mm 27th

14. Days with thunder 0


15. Mean relative humidity 9h 76%


16. Mean pressure 9h 1020mb

17. Highest/date 1024mb 22nd, 23rd, 24th

18. Lowest/date 1014mb 28th


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


24th 1897 Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee saw thunderstorms with damaging hail, broken glass in greenhouses, and ruined decorations.

1967 Five speleologists/cave explorers, were drowned in Mossdale Cave in Wharfedale, when a torrential thunderstorm broke in the area. The ground was very hard, having dried up during the preceding rainless spell, so the water ran off instead of being absorbed, and rapidly filled the surface and subterranean water courses. Most of the caves involved crawling and squeezing along narrow passages that are normally filled with water – always risky!

26th 1924 The only Test Match cricketer who never bowled, batted, or caught a ball, was Jack MacBryan. He was picked to play in the Test between England and South Africa, but it was rained off in Manchester, after 2 hours 45 minutes, and he was never picked again.

1976 The temperature in the Centre Court, Wimbledon, reached 43,109F, resulting in 400 fans fainting. The shade temperature reached 32, 90F, every day, and unbelievably, the All England Tennis Club threatened to throw out anyone who took his shirt off!

Bjorn Borg won on a baked, iron-hard court. The London area averages 1.8 ins, 45mm, during this week, but there have been very few Wimbledons not affected by rain.

The first Championships, in 1877, were contested by 22 men (specially requested not to wear short sleeved shirts when ladies were present!) and were postponed because of rain.

The first Wimbledon Championships on the present site experienced rain on the first day when King George V was present, and every subsequent day. The courts became quagmires and the finals finished a week late.

27th 1666 Records show that a heat wave began in the London area on this date.

28th 1917 A tremendous downpour in Somerset, measured at Sexey's School, in the small town of Bruton, produced a total of 9.56 ins, 243mm, in one day. The consequent floods are recorded with a plaque by the parish church marking the highest level of the water. The torrential rains were the result of a small depression moving eastwards along the English Channel.

2005 I wonder if you remember the Birmingham Tornado which caused so much damage in the Sparkbrook area? It only lasted about four minutes, but in that time it was able to injure 30 people, uproot thousands of trees, render hundreds homeless and cause £39 million worth of damage. It was one of the worst tornadoes in the British Isles with wind speeds up to 130mph, travelled a path 7 miles long and was up to 1,650 feet wide.

29th 1853 Who was the first to fly in a heavier-than-air aircraft? Most will say the Wright brothers at Kittyhawk, North Carolina – but you would be wrong. Sir George Cayley, of Brompton Hall estate near Scarborough, was the first – or rather, it was his coachman John Appleby, who was reportedly so frightened by his experience that he promptly gave in his notice!

30th 1348 The first victim of the Black Death in England died. There are two forms of this dreaded disease – pneumonic plague and the bubonic plague.

The first attacks the lungs, so victims cough up blood and die quickly.

The second form is the commonest, with victims developing swellings (buboes), in the groin and armpit – probably in the lymph glands. Victims then experience coldness followed by prickling sensations and depression over several days – then death. Within 18 months a third of the population were dead.

It is thought that the plague arrived in Europe as a result of a great flood in Asia, which destroyed the black rats' habitat, driving them westwards. The bites of rat fleas carried the infection to humans. A series of mild winters in mid-14th century allowed the fleas to survive. When winter cold returned, the incidence of plague declined, and it died out in 1350.

The social and economic results of the decimation of the population were profound, as there was a serious shortage of labour, with a consequent break down of social structure.


1st 1960 A record air frost occurred in Norfolk with a minimum of -1.0, 30F, and also in a few other localities across the country.

2nd 1314 Edward II was defeated by Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in Scotland.

1893 The Cheviots are a little known (at least down here in the Midlands), range of mountains which mark the frontier between Scotland and England. A cloudburst flooded all the local streams and the flood waters washed away several bridges.

1976 I have written before that one of the best things to come out of North America is the relaxation of the class-based dress code with which we were once afflicted. Thank goodness for informal clothing. Let me illustrate this with the following. The temperature reached 33, 92F, in the Stewards' Enclosure at Henley Regatta. After 137 years of history, the Stewards allowed members and guests to remove their jackets inside the packed Stewards Enclosure. Ties and top shirt buttons had to be firmly fastened!

3rd 1976 Cheltenham recorded a maximum temperature of 35.9, 96.5F. This was the hottest day of the record hot 10 week summer of that year. Guess what? The venerable MCC allowed its members to remove their blazers, however, ties had to remain firmly tied!

Perhaps some readers may remember that this was the summer which was so hot and dry that the government appointed a Minister for Drought. The almost inevitable result was an outbreak of thunderstorms bringing torrential rain – before the Minister was able to do anything, although what he was expected to do remains a mystery. The next month was the wettest September on record!



1st Floods in Afghanistan killed at least 150, with many areas cut off. Hundreds were trapped on their roofs and had to be rescued by helicopters.

Central Chile has had a very dry 12 months. It has a Mediterranean Climate of dry sunny summers, and warm rains in the winter. Santiago only had 0.3mm of rain from 1st October to the end of April – normal rainfall is 48.7mm. According to the Chilean Weather Service, 2004-2013 was the driest 10-year period in the last 150 years.

2nd California and much of the south-western USA are in a state of severe drought after one of the driest years on record. California – except for the far north of the state – has a Mediterranean climate, and relies on winter rainfall for its water supply.

Restrictions on water use are now widespread. Snow melt from the Sierra Nevada (mountains of snow in English), is a major source of water as the snow pack melts in summer. This snow pack is currently only 18% of the long term average at this time of the year, due to low winter snowfall.

Afghanistan experienced massive landslides in remote Badakhshan Province. At least 2,100 people were killed.

9th Good news for some of the cattle ranchers in Texas, as the price of beef climbed by more than half since May 2009. This is due to the continuing drought which has caused a decline in the size of the beef herd, falling by 2.4 million to 10.9 head.

12th Heavy rain in China caused the collapse of a wall in Qingdao crushing houses and killing eighteen people. Taishan, just west of Hongkong, had 419.2mm of rain in 24 hours.

14th Evidence is emerging that there is a link between lightning and not only cosmic rays from space, but also energetic particles from the sun. Researchers have found links between thunderstorms and streams of high-energy particles in the solar wind.

15th Wildfires are burning in California, especially around San Diego – not unexpected considering the tinder dry conditions prevailing over most of the state. Los Angeles is experiencing very high temperatures, with the record for the date of 35.5, 96F, set in 1890, being broken with 36.7, 98F, on the 14th, and in downtown Los Angeles recorded a record breaking temperature of 39, 102F.

18th Bosnia and Serbia suffered severe flooding after three months worth of rain fell on the region in three days. These were the worst floods for 120 years.

In Brazil, Sao Paulo experienced a storm which left the city white with hail. Hail is not uncommon during their autumn, but this was exceptional with bulldozers having to clear the streets.

21st The floods in the Balkans have revealed shells and land mines which have been buried for the last 20 years. It is thought that as many as 220,000 land mines are still hidden as a result of the Bosnian War of 1992-95.

22nd A spring heat wave struck Korea, with temperatures rising to 31.3, 88.5F, in Daegu.

23rd A dust storm caused the death of six people in a multi-vehicle pile-up near Lordsburg, New Mexico, USA.

24th One woman was drowned in Turkey in Gaziantap Province, after an hour of torrential rain.

25th Hurricane Amanda became the strongest May eastern Pacific hurricane on record with sustained winds of 155mph.

29th The Indian monsoon, although starting early, stalled over the Bay of Bengal, causing a delay in the onset of the vital summer rains. One of the consequences, is the extremely high temperatures in North-West India of over 40, 104F.

30th Mount Sangeang Api, in Indonesia, has erupted sending a huge ash cloud, up to 6-10 miles high into the atmosphere disrupting the flight of commercial aircraft. Darwin International Airport was closed to all flights.

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