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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 10, 2014

  • Rain forest is systematcally wiped out in Indonesia for the planting of oil palms

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The Black Country

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley for June 2014


June this year developed as a very pleasant warm month with long dry spells between the first ten days and the short two-day wet spell on the 26th and 27th.


1. Mean maximum 20.1, 68F

2. Anomaly +1.9

3. Mean minimum 11.0, 52F

4. Anomaly +1.1

5. Average of max. & min. 15.5, 60F

6. Anomaly +1.5

7. Highest/date 25, 77F 22nd

8. Lowest/date 7.4, 45.5F 5th

9. Lowest grass/date 7.8, 46F 17th

10. Mean 30cm soil depth 16.8, 62F

EXTREMES 1971 - 2014

A. Highest mean maximum 22.0, 72F 1976, 2006

B. Mean maximum 18.5, 65.5F

C. Lowest mean maximum 15.7, 60.5F 1987

D. Highest average 16.9, 62.5F 2006

E. Average 14.3, 57.5F

F. Lowest average 11.1, 52F 1972

G. Highest mean minimum 11.9, 53.5F 2006

H. Mean minimum 10.2, 50.5F

I. Lowest mean minimum 7.3, 45F 1972

J. Extreme highest 30.8, 87.5F 29th 1976

K. Extreme minimum 1.2, 34F 2nd 1975


11. Days with rain falling 12

12. Total fall 70.6mm

13. Wettest day 14.9mm 4th

14. Days with thunder 2


L. Wettest month 172.6mm 2007

M. Driest month 14.2mm 1975


15. Relative humidity 9h 74%


16. Average at 9h 1021mb

17. Highest/date 1025mb 1st

18. Lowest/date 1006mb 4th


19. N 6, NE 2, E 3, SE 1, S 5, SW 2, W 6, NW 3, CALM 2


We have known for a long time that the tropical rain forests of the world are disappearing as human populations expand, and we thought that the Brazilian Amazon rain forest was most at threat.

However, there is clear evidence that it is in Indonesia that the rain forest is most threatened. This country is deforesting faster than any other.

Satellite data shows that Indonesia lost 60,000 square kilometres of primary forest from 2000 to 2012. It was cleared by burning to make way for oil palm plantations. With an El Nino event slowly developing, the situation will get worse as rainfall in the East Indies declines. In late June satellites spotted a rash of fires in the Indonesian islands archipelago.

The fires will warm the climate, and during the last El Nino event of 1997-98, Indonesian fires released around 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere – equal to a quarter of all fossil fuel emissions at the time. As in past years, atmospheric pollution in the form of dense smoke is heading towards Malaysia, and no doubt we shall hear a lot about this choking pollution in the next few weeks.

Please do not wash your hands of our responsibility, as we all use a very wide range of products incorporating palm oil.


I think that most readers will know of the consequences of the introduction of the rabbit to Australia, where it became a serious pest. Rabbit proof fences had to be constructed to restrict the spread of darling bunnies.

Then there is the cane toad, also introduced to Australia where it is another serious pest.

These are examples of the law of unintended consequences, but there have been successes.


The rubbervine was introduced from Malaysia into Australia in the 19th century where it rapidly spread, smothering trees and choking tropical ecosystems. Then the leaf destroying fungus Maravallia cryptostegiae was released in 1995. This vine pest is now almost completely under control.

The water hyacinth from South America, which has for years been choking water courses in the tropics, has been brought under control by two species of weevils released in the 1990s – 80% of the weed was destroyed in three years.

The common Western European plant, Purple Loosestrife, has infested parts of North America, especially in wetter areas. Two leaf eating beetles were released, and they destroyed 95% of the weed in 5 years.


4th 1681 A long spell of dry easterly winds over Scotland came to an end on this date.

1862 According to the Reverend Charles Dodgson, the Oxford University mathematics don, (pseudonym Lewis Caroll), it was a "golden afternoon", and "dreamy weather", when he took his nieces rowing on the River Isis from Oxford to Godstow.

However, according to official weather records for the day it was cool and wet. At best, a front moving across the region in early morning and another in late evening, may have provided a spell of fine weather during the afternoon.

The Dodo

Incidentally, the hands that type this article have actually held a Dodo. You probably first heard of this in Alice in Wonderland, or was it, Alice Through the Looking Glass?

It was a bird, related to the pigeons that lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. A unique specimen of this extinct bird is kept in the Natural History Museum in Oxford, and I was lucky enough to be allowed to hold it earlier this year. The Museum also contains many trays of Charles Darwin's specimens – many collected during his voyage around the world in HMS Beagle.

Once again, yours truly, was privileged to hold some of his marine specimens, such as crabs from South America, and also view his enormous collection of insects – especially beetles. If you understand the significance of Charles Darwin, you will know how overwhelmed I was – it will always be one of the highlights of my life. Darwin is in the pantheon of the world's half dozen scientists whose ideas have transformed all our lives – whether we realise it or not.

1960 A long period of wet, stormy weather started on this date, and lasted until 6th September.

1925 The BBC broadcast the first ever shipping forecast at 10.30 am, intended for small ships on long wave, which is the signal best received at sea. It was a live transmission and there is no recording of it.

5th 1666 Samuel Pepys recorded that it was a very hot spell, with ... "oranges ripening in the open at Hackney."

5th 1822 Imagine a world without refrigeration – a world older readers may well remember. The nearest device to the now ubiquitous fridge/freezer, was the ice house constructed for the well-to-do to store winter's ice from ponds and lakes. If the winter was mild there would be little ice for summer.

On this day The Times advertised this: "Messrs. Gunter respectfully beg to inform the nobility and those who honour them with their commands that, having this day received one of their cargoes of ice by the ship "Platoff", from the Greenland seas, they are able to supply their CREAM and FRUIT ICES, at their former prices."

Neapolitan ices became popular from the early 19th century – mainly for the rich. At the end of the century, with the introduction of mechanical refrigerators, ice cream became cheap enough for the masses.

6th According to the Book of Common Prayer, the "dog days" of summer begin on this date. Your shirt should now stick to your back, your knees should become weak and you should be enveloped in a general lassitude.

1956 Severe, violent thunderstorms affected the South East of England, and produced an amazing depth of hail. In Tunbridge Wells the streets were blocked by six feet of hail!

7th 1981 Hot and sultry weather prevailed in Liverpool as riots enveloped Toxteth. There is a well established link between high temperatures and violent crime, when the murder rate in London peaks. Some psychologists suggest that sunshine increases the level of serotonin released by the brain, and this can increases aggression. It is no coincidence that most of the civil disturbances in the country have occurred during the summer when temperatures were high.

8th 1588 The Spanish Armada was defeated off the coast of France, at Gravelines. The Spanish ships were then carried northwards into the North Sea by strong south-westerly winds.

The Armada was then largely wrecked off the coast of Scotland and Ireland with only a few making it back to Spain.

54 BC Julius Caesar camped on the Kent coast near Walmer, where he lost forty of his ships in a storm. The previous year, 55 BC, he had to abandon his planned invasion when ships carrying soldiers were either lost in another storm, or blown back to Boulogne.

On this occasion, he headed northwards and crossed the River Thames, and on meeting the Catuvellauni tribe, made a pact with their king – probably because he couldn't stand the idea of returning to Rome without victory.

9th 1846 Thirty nine miners were drowned in their mine in Cornwall when a thunderstorm flooded it.

1923 A fantastic display of lightning over London produced 6,924 flashes in six hours.

1984 Some folk will believe anything! A lightning stroke struck York Minster shortly after midnight. The firemen arrived late at 2am by which time the fire was raging through the ancient, tinder-dry oak roofing timbers of the thirteenth century south transept.

The famous rose window was gutted, although most of the glass – Britains' oldest – was salvaged.

The arrival of the Fire Brigade had been delayed because the alarm did not sound at the time. It is now thought that that the lightning rods were spaced too far apart, and the lightning jumped between them, striking the control box for the exterior flood lights.

However, some people thought it was divine retribution because of the controversy over the appointment of Dr David Jones, who held unconventional views. The glaring flaw in this theory is that Dr Jones was Bishop of Durham – not York.

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