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Gordon Hensman's Weatherview

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 28, 2014

  • Just some of the devastation inflicted upon Boscastle ten years ago. Incredibly, despite vehicles being washed end over end down to the sea, no one was killed

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The Black Country

Birthplace of Industrial Revolution

Weather in Dudley for 1st to 20th August 2014


I must admit that I was surprised to find that the temperatures were a little below average. However, most of the airstreams crossing the British Isles were from the North Atlantic which is cooler than the land in summer. Rainfall was a drop above average, also due to the frequent fronts crossing from the North Atlantic, bringing mainly light rain.


1. Mean maximum 19.6, 67.5F

2. Anomaly -1.3

3. Mean minimum 11.1, 52F

4. Anomaly -0.8

5. Average of max. & min. 15.3, 59.5F

6. Anomaly -1.1

7. Highest/date 23.5, 74.5F 8th

8. Lowest/date 6.1, 43F 20th

9. Lowest grass/date 4.8, 40.5F 20th

10. Mean 30cm soil depth 17.1


11. Days with rain 13

14. Total fall 64.1mm

15. Wettest day 18.4mm 5th

16. Days with thunder 2 9th, 14th


17. Mean relative humidity 9h 80%


18. Average 1011mb

19. Highest/date 1019mb 5th, 15th

20. Lowest/date 997mb 10th


21. N 1, NE 0, E 0, SE 1, S 1, SW 5, W 7, NW 5, CALM 0


9th 1843 One of the worst hailstorms on record hit the coast of Norfolk, near Horsey, and cut a 158 mile swathe, inland as far as Stow-on-the-Wold, Cotswolds. It has subsequently been classified as a tornado ranking H7 – "very destructive".

In places the 3 inch hail stones were 5 feet deep ...

"The lightning and hail were terrific, the former like sheets of fire filled the air and ran along the ground, the latter as large as pigeons eggs. All the windows on the north side of the Mansion [Wimpole Hall] were broken ...

"The corn over which it passed was entirely threshed out, boughs and limbs torn off trees, pigeons and crows killed, many sheep struck by lightning, and what the hail and lightning did not utterly destroy, the rain which fell in torrents finished...

"Such was the violence of the rain that a stream ... washed men off their feet, and carried away 30 or 40 feet of the Park wall."

This was the account drawn up by the Rector of Wimpole, Cambridgeshire. Another account speaks of hail stones 6.5 inches diameter at Tew ... they were taken in two cartloads to the ice house.

This vicious storm led to the formation of the Farmers & General Hail Insurance Company which eventually led to the formation of the Norwich Union insurance company.

10th 1975 A cricket umpire, at Berwick on Tweed, was struck by lightning resulting in the iron joint in his artificial leg being welded together!

2003 This day is famous in the annals of meteorology in the British Isles. A temperature of 38.5, 101.3F, was recorded near Gravesend, Kent. A few hours earlier, Heathrow recorded the first ever temperature (to be officially accepted) of 100F or more. It was 37.9,100.2F. The temperature at Brogdale, near Gravesend, of 101.3F, remains the highest temperature on record.

11-13th 1979 Cowes Week is one of those recurring annual events, along with test matches, Henley Regatta, the Boat Race and Wimbledon. However, this year's event ended in disaster.

The final is, by tradition, the Fastnet Challenge Race – a 608 mile race from Cowes across the Irish Sea, around the isolated Fastnet Rock off south-west Cork, and back to Plymouth via the Isles of Scilly.

The 2,700 yachtsmen, in 303 boats, sailed in almost calm conditions, and for the next 36 hours they were frustrated by the lack of wind. Unknown to them, a deepening low was developing off the east coast of North America.

It took until dawn on Monday for them to clear the south coast and enter the Western Approaches, just as "low Y" arrived to wreak havoc.

Very rapidly conditions changed dramatically. The barometer fell to the second lowest in the British Isles in 150 years. Wind speeds reached Storm Force 11. Those outside the storm centre listened helplessly to Mayday after Mayday for the next 24 hours, but they were unable to provide help until dawn on Tuesday 14th.

Smaller boats were "pitch poled – cartwheeling stern over bow, and the Dutch destroyer Overijssel, was forced by mountainous seas to roll so far that its masts were touching the water. In the process a lifeboat was washed overboard and a man went over the side. When it had righted itself the raft had entangled with rigging and was scooped on board – together with the man.

In all, 19 crew were lost, 136 boats were rescued, 5 sank, numerous life rafts destroyed and only 85 boats finished the race. The Dutch destroyer was written off.

This disaster led to a raft of compulsory rules to improve safety. Crew qualifications were required to be enhanced, yachts were required to be self righting, crews were told to stay with the yachts and not to take board hard-to-spot life rafts, mandatory VHF long-range radios, and mandatory 48 hour emergency position-transmitting beacons

12th 2005 The Glorious Twelfth is traditionally the first day of the grouse shooting season, but it was a complete failure.

Both gut parasites – the strongyle worm – and adverse weather – a mild wet winter – had decimated the birds' population

15th The infamous Lynmouth flood disaster killed 34 people, smashed 28 bridges, demolished nearly 100 houses and washed 38 cars out to sea. Several bodies were never found.

The East and West Lynn rivers draining Exmoor into the Bristol Channel, had been swollen with 9 inches, 228mm, of rain in twelve hours.

The moor was already saturated with previous heavy rain, and the resulting flood carried 200,000 tons of boulders, trees, mud from the moor into the sea.

16th 2004 There was almost a repeat of the Lynmouth floods at Boscastle not far away, as torrential rains deluged the moor. It took place during daylight hours and was widely filmed and televised. It was over in 8 hours, with the tiny hamlet experiencing as much water as the flow of the River Thames, as helicopters rescued over 100 inhabitants.

17th 1588 Once again a storm saved the country from invasion as bad weather defeated the Spanish Armada. Our victory has been generally attributed to Sir Francis Drake. Skirmishes off the French coast at Calais and Gravelines, involving the use of fire ships by Lord Howard the English commander, resulted in an inconclusive situation. However, as strong winds from the south east developed, the Spanish were driven northwards into the North Sea.

Their commander was an unlikely character who had never fought at sea before and suffered the horrors of sea sickness. He was the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who decided to sail northwards to round Northern Scotland, and sail southwards back to Spain along the coast of western Ireland. We all know the outcome of this decision – the Armada lost 50 of its 130 ships. Even today there are Scots and Irish who are descended from the Spanish sailors.

1784 Sleet was recorded falling near the coast of Moray Firth.

18th 1939 A shower of tiny frogs was observed at Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Such showers are not unknown, as they are the result of a tornado or waterspout sucking up these creatures from pools and lakes, with them subsequently falling from the gigantic cumulus clouds with the rain.

1924 A total of 239mm, 9.4ins fell on Cannington, Somerset, in one day. Yes, there were floods!

19th 1848 This was the date of the little known Moray Firth fishing disaster. About a thousand herring boats had put out for the fishing grounds when around midnight the weather rapidly deteriorated. Most boats had a crew of five giving about five thousand fishermen running for shore in a developing gale.

Unfortunately, the tide was too low for them to enter the harbour at Wick, where 124 boats were lost, drowning 100. At daybreak the coast between Wick and Peterhead was strewn with wrecks and dead bodies – the worst maritime disaster along this notoriously stormy coast.

After an Admiralty inquiry, it was concluded that harbours had to be improved, and all vessels should be fully decked. Scottish boats had hitherto been open, providing no shelter and prone to swamping in heavy seas.

20th 1698 Greenwich reached 37, 99F.

21st 1695 The summer this year had been particularly cold and rainy. A cold north wind blew bringing night frosts. "Greater frosts were not always seen in winter." John Evelyn, Wotton, Surrey.

24th 1940 London recorded its earliest recorded air frost.

25th The Birmingham Super Prix. The remnants of Hurricane Charley struck the British Isles – just in time for Bank Holiday, and the road race in Brumagem! It had taken 16 years to plan, but it had to be cancelled when the rain became so heavy and the roads so flooded that drivers could not see where they were going.

Hurricanes never reach our country as they require a sea temperature of at least 21, 70F. By the time they reach us, they have lost much of their power, but can still produce severe gales and heavy rains.

Debbie 1961 Antrim loses much forest land.

Flossie – 1976 104 mph on Fair Isle.

Lili – 1996 £150 million damage.

Jeanette – 2002 It took the Lerwick ferry from Aberdeen to the Shetlands, some 80 hours to reach its destination – more than ten times than normal. I feel sorry for its seasick passengers!

Gordon – Sept 2006 Electricity was cut for 100,000 in Northern Ireland. No! It wasn't me!



The largest ice sheet in Europe is Vatnajokull in southern Iceland. Beneath this are several volcanoes, such as Grimvotn, which erupt from time to time melting vast quantities of ice, causing enormous floods called Jokulhlaups.

At the moment Bardarbunga seems to be erupting or preparing to erupt on the northern side of Vatnajokull. It may be a minor eruption, but could equally be very severe, producing vast amounts of dust.

If the winds are from the north-west, this could once again interfere with European aviation as it did in 2010, when Eyjafjallajokull erupted further west. It appears that south-west winds now prevail, and unless the direction changes, the dust will be carried to the north east. In any case, the subsequent floods will be draining to the north, into the semi-desert of Iceland.

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