Reigate December 2014 (2013)
- Tmax 12.7C (11.4)
- Tmin -2.9C (-1.9)
- Average temp 5.3C (5.8)
- Total rainfall 49.4mm (CoCoRaHs) (110mm)
- Max gust 38 mph (47)
- Total sunshine 100 hours (92.8 hours)
- No snow
For Reigate and the whole of SE England, December 2014 was drier, warmer and sunnier than the long-term average (1961-90), but was it less windy than December 2013?
In Reigate and for much of Southern England a HIGH pressure moved over to create a cool calm frosty end to the year with more sunshine than usual with a total exceeding 100 hours (92 hours 2013). Rainfall was also less than usual for December at only 49.4mm (SE Dec average 96mm). This was despite two low pressure systems this month labelled as “bombs” in the media. Notably there was no snowfall recorded for Reigate in December and it maintained the warmer-than average theme making 2014 the warmest year on record for England, in the longest running continuous temperature record stretching all the way back to 1772 (more on this later).
2013 was remembered for being extremely stormy for good reason as gales and rain swept the UK through the winter period causing floods and travel chaos. However, was December 2014 really so much less windy? One storm worthy of note struck this month but the weather “bomb” on the 12 December hardly caused a stir in the SE, with most of the impact being restricted to the NW of the country. The diminutive December max wind gust in Reigate of 38 mph was caused by the non-bomb LOW that sank SE across the UK that introduced the cold final days to 2014, the so-called “arrival of the queen of freezer”!
The chart above shows the daily highest average (10 minute) wind speed for each day through December 2013 (red line) and 2014 (blue line) as measured in Reigate. The chart shows that December 2013 seems to have started less windy than 2014 but caught up and finished on a more consistently breezy note. Nevertheless, the difference is perhaps less than might be imagined considering the stormy label given to December 2013, though of course Reigate never experienced the highest gusts nationally which were reserved for coastal areas. Nevertheless, equally surprising is that there were 14 days when average winds exceeded 10 mph in 2014 while only 11 days exceeded 10mph in the supposedly windy 2013. The data for 20 mph starts to show the difference between 2013 and 2014: only 1 day exceeded 20 mph in Dec 2014 while 2 days exceeded 20 mph in 2013.
The data with respect to max wind gusts also confounds the idea that Dec 2013 was windier than Dec 2014. The average maximum wind gust in Dec 2014 was 23 mph whereas the average maximum wind gust in Dec 2013 was 22 mph, no significant difference. Of course, this all hides the crucial MAX GUST data (peak wind gust in 24 hours): but this doesn’t help either much because there were 18 days with max gusts exceeding 20 mph in 2014 while only 15 days exceeded 20 mph in 2013. It is left to the absolute value for maximum wind gust to distinguish the two years because it is only in this category that December 2013 markedly exceed values in 2014 with 2013 max gust being 47 mph and 2014 just 38 mph. So it is these maximum gusts that people remember and associate with “storminess” because they do the damage, even if they are only brief moments in more average wind events. On all the other data December 2014 was windier than 2013! This also shows, of course, how different weather data can be used to illustrate different angles on a story.
- Max Gust 2013 47 mph
- Max Gust 2014 38 mph
It could be concluded that the collective memory of “severe weather” is often down to a few key events that raise public awareness, more than the weather itself. There might also be thresholds which hit the news and chime with our collective severe weather memory: flooding and snow being the obvious triggers. December 2013 was as much to do with heavy rain as it was to do with gales, especially for the sheltered inland areas of SE England. Rainfall this December has certainly been lower than the long term average. The chart below shows the December precipitation average as 75mm for England and Wales and just 56mm for South East England, December 2014 in Reigate is lower still at 50mm, half as much as 2013.
So December 2014 has been an unremarkable month for Reigate and SE England although it was nearly as windy as 2013, but it didn’t quite hit the extremes that make headlines!
More widely December caught the imagination as freezing weather sank south across Europe and the USA where huge snowfalls were recorded in Buffalo NY and in parts of the Alps. It snowed in Algeria while Iceland experienced balmy December days as warm as 15C. In the SE we were stuck under a very HIGH pressure (record breaking 1044mb) that gave us the sparkling final days in 2014 with pleasant winter sunshine and some cold temperatures as low as -7C in Redhill airport. In Reigate our lowest temperature for December of -3C shows how a town location can ameliorate extreme temperatures. Happy New Year!