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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 17, 2014

  • St Swithin, forever assocated with rain

  • A visitor from space scorches through the skies of Siberia in 2013. Such incidents are not as rare as one would think; this was one which was captured on camera because it came down over a populated area

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The Black Country

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley

1st – 10th July 2014

SUMMARY

Temperatures were very close to average, being a little above normal by day and a little below by night.

Rainfall was also very close to the long term average, with most of it falling on the 8th.

TEMPERATURE

1. Mean maximum 20.8, 69.5F

2. Anomaly +1.4

3. Mean minimum 11, 52F

4. Anomaly -1.3

5. Average of max. & min. 15.9, 60.5F

6. Anomaly +0.1

7. Highest/date 23.7, 74.5F 10th

8. Lowest/date 9.5, 49F 7th

9. Lowest grass/date 8.4, 47F 6th, 8th

10. Mean 30cm soil depth 16.3, 61.5F

RAINFALL

11. Days with rain 3

12. Total fall 22mm

13. Wettest day 11.8mm 8th

14. Days with thunderstorm 1 8th

HUMIDITY

15. Mean relative humidity 9h 74%

AIR PRESSURE

16. Average at 9h 1016mb

17. Highest/date 1025mb 2nd

18. Lowest/date 1003mb 5th

WIND DIRECTIONS

N 3, NE 0, E 0, SE 0, S 1, SW 4, W 1, NW 0, CALM 1

OZONE LAYER

The main ozone-depleting gases are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The British Antarctic Survey discovered this "thinning" of the thin tenuous layer of ozone in the early 1980s – and at first it was merely of academic interest. However, when it was realised that ozone absorbed very short wave ultraviolet, right on the edge of the atmosphere where it merges with space, and if this radiation reached ground level, life would be destroyed, scientists sat up and transmitted their anxieties to politicians.

This resulted in the Montreal Protocol which came into force in 1989, listing 56 CFCs and 34 HCFGs responsible for the ozone hole. These were banned – with a few exceptions.

Recent studies at the University of East Anglia have found 3 new CFCs and 1 HCF in the atmosphere. The source of these is unknown but two of them are increasing rapidly.

Incidentally, it was James Lovelock who produced the famous Gaia theory, who invented the Electron Capture Detector which enabled scientists to analyse the chemicals responsible for ozone destruction.

One of the problems is the slow rate at which these gases are changed chemically in the air, into harmless substances. In the meantime, the ozone hole is still there – after at least twenty years.

MOUNTAIN SNOW PATCHES

Our mountains may be thickly plastered with snow by the end of winter, but they are simply not high enough to keep the snow in summer. However, in practically every year, a few patches survive until the snow returns in autumn.

The 2012 – 2013 winter, produced enough snow for six patches to last until the following autumn. Three were on Ben Nevis – two at Observatory Gully and one at Point 5 Gully,

One was at Aonoch Beag adjacent to Ben Nevis, and the other two at Garbh Choire Mor, and Braeriach, in the Cairngorms.

Lasting snow came to Garbh Choirie Mor on 9th October and to Ben Nevis and Aonoch Beag on 31st October.

SPRING 2014

The mean temperature was 9C, 48.5F, which is 1.3 deg C above the 1981 – 2010 average and the UK's third warmest spring since 1910. Only the springs of 2007 and 2011 were warmer. For Scotland it was the warmest spring, by a very narrow margin. Spring nights were mild with the number of air frosts among the lowest on record.

The UK had 105% of average spring rain March and April were dry, but May made up for this being wetter than average.

ASTEROIDS

You may remember the asteroid which appeared over the skies of Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, which exploded, shattering windows and frightening the population half to death. What you probably do not know is that there have been 26 such asteroid impacts on earth since 2000. Many of them exploded with a force greater than that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Most, however, exploded too high up to do serious damage on the earth's surface, and about half of them exploded over the oceans.

JULY WEATHER IN THE PAST

11th 1923 The temperature reached 32, 90F, in England on 3 successive days.

1934 The City of Nottingham reached 33.3, 92F – the hottest day of a 9 day hot spell when the temperature reached 27, 80.5F, every day.

12th 1665 The following must have been terrifying for the devout congregation of people who knew nothing of science and accepted the "hell fire and damnation" teachings of the equally ignorant clergy. During a thunderstorm at Erpingham, a "great grey ball" of lightning entered the church through the chancel, leaving "a great smoke and stink", killing one man, injuring many others and damaging the walls.

In 1783 ball lightning hit a school in Essex killing three children.

13th King George III arrived in Weymouth for his first visit, where he bathed in the sea during his convalescence for an illness.

Fanny Burney, who was the Second Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte, described it thus: "A machine followed the Royal one into the sea filled with fiddlers who played God save the King as his majesty takes the plunge."

This occasion created the tradition of sea bathing – especially at the resorts along the south coast at Brighton for example, where nude bathing was the norm until Victorian times, only to be once again permitted in certain stretches of beach, a few years ago.

I think most readers will know of King George V in 1936, uttering the immortal words, "Bugger Bognor", when it was suggested that he would soon be well enough to visit Bognor Regis.

14th 1955 In a thunderstorm at Royal Ascot, a lightning bolt struck the metal railing around the enclosure on the heath in the centre of the course, "...throwing out blue sparks".

A hundred people were knocked down – many lifted off their feet and rendered unconscious. Forty nine were injured, and two spectators were killed.

In 1930, a thunderstorm flooded the course, killing one of the bookmakers. The meeting was then abandoned for the first time in two hundred years.

15th Is there a reader of these humble lines, who has not heard of St Swithin? The legend goes that if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for the next forty days.

At the canonisation of St Swithin in 971 AD, the monks of Winchester Cathedral decided to inter his body in a great tomb inside the cathedral – against his wishes. He was a very humble man and wanted a simple outdoor grave "where the feet of passers-by and rain dripping from the eaves would beat upon it." He got his way, because on the appointed day it rained, and kept on raining for the next forty days. The saint was left where he was.

16th 1685 Do you remember the floods in the Somerset Levels last winter? In the heart of this low lying area is Sedgmoor, where King James II's army fought the Duke of Monmouth for the throne. Monmouth lost, but it was the last pitched battle fought on English soil.

Monmouth was executed at the Tower of London, when it took five strokes of the axe to sever his head! As you speed down the M5 en route for Devon and Cornwall, you cannot fail to see the notice the sign for Sedgemoor, just past the turn for Weston Super Mare.

17th 1212 The Fire of London. No, I haven't got the date wrong – this is the first fire of London. Timber houses, in packed narrow streets on the south side of the Thames, quickly catch fire and large areas of the borough, including the church of St Mary Overie (the present site of Southwark Cathedral), is gutted. Wooden houses on the new stone London Bridge burned down. Some argue that this disaster led to King John signing the Magna Carta.

1998 I bet you are not familiar with the name Sir James Lighthill, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University. He created the field of biofluid dynamics. This is the study of how animals move through air and water.

He was drowned in stormy water off the island of Sark, when he attempted to swim the 9 miles around the island – something he had done 25 years earlier.

FASTEST ANIMAL

A favourite pub quiz question is about the fastest animal. I think it's likely that most would answer that it is the cheetah. However – yes, you've guessed it – that is the wrong answer!

The fastest animal, according to body-length-per-second , is Paratarsotomus macropalpis, a mite found in Southern California. Apparently, it can move at the rate of 322 body lengths per second, compared to the fastest humans at 6 body lengths per second. Poor old cheetahs can only do 16 body lengths per second! So there – nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be! A warning, no quiz master likes to be contradicted!

TALLEST ANIMAL

The giraffe, at 5 metres, is the tallest animal extant, but the Titanosaur which lived 100 million years ago in La Flecha, Patogonia, in what is now Argentina, reached 20 metres in height. So, clever clogs – how do you know, if it is so old? Palaeontologists, who study all sorts of fossils, were able to calculate its height from its gigantic thigh bones, or femurs. The Titanosaur was 40 metres long and weighed 77 tonnes. This enormous animal was a vegetarian, and lived during Cretaceous times when the chalk, forming the White Cliffs of Dover, were being laid down in an enormous ocean called the Sea of Tethys

GRAPHENE

This single carbon-atom-thick material invented at Manchester University has another side to its marvellous characteristics of strength and conductance of electricity.

Very soon it will have been developed sufficiently to enter our daily lives in many different applications.

Research has shown that – like many other substances, including chemicals only found in the laboratory – it will eventually enter the food chain. One form is graphene oxide which sticks to organic matter produced by decomposing plants and animals. This could be ingested by animals, when it has shown some evidence of toxicity, especially in the lungs.

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