From marvellous to miserable

MAY was a month that went from marvellous to miserable in its last 10 days.The first half of the month was often sunny and warm with unbroken sunshine on many days.

MAY was a month that went from marvellous to miserable in its last 10 days.

The first half of the month was often sunny and warm with unbroken sunshine on many days.

The early heat wave peaked on May 10 when temperatures reached 78F(26C) and East Anglia was one of the warmest places in Europe.

During the height of the 12-day spell of summer-like warmth Suffolk was hotter than Barcelona, Tenerife, Cyprus and Athens.


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At the USAF weather station at Lakenheath a maximum temperature of 81F(27C) was registered on May 10.

Well into the evening temperatures were still maintained at 70F(21C).

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The cause of the fine weather was a persistent area of high pressure centred initially over the North Sea and later over Scandinavia and the Norwegian Sea.

This pressure distribution established a south easterly airstream bringing warm air into East Anglia from the Continent.

The fine and warm spell ranked as the warmest in early May since records began in 1772.

From mid-month temperatures began to fall but most places remained predominantly dry.

The late-May Bank Holiday weekend began warm and sunny but rapidly changed into a dull and wet pattern with temperatures well below the seasonal average.

On May 26 a depression centred over northern France brought a broad belt of continuous rain, accompanied by a strong north easterly wind of 35 to 40 mph with coastal gusts up to 45mph.

It was the second successive year with adverse weather on the late May Bank Holiday Monday.

Overnight thundery outbreaks brought incessant lightning to much of the region in the early hours of May 28.

Localised heavy downpours resulted in a marked variation in rainfall totals in Suffolk and Essex.

Measurable rain fell on only eight days and most of the precipitation fell during the last few days of the month.

In many regions there was more than twice the long-term average for the month.

At Colchester the total May rainfall was 4.03 inches and at Ipswich 3.25 inches fell.

Belstead Hall reported 3.04 inches, Higham (Suffolk) 2.77 inches and Wattisham Airfield 2.66 inches.

There was an abundance of bright sunshine in May and parts of the region registered 150 hours in the first two weeks of the month.

Wattisham recorded a total of 274 hours of sunshine and Colchester 232 hours.

The Wattisham figure was 60 hours above the average for May.

MAY AVERAGES and EXTREMES

Average maximum daytime temperature 62F

Average night minimum temperature 44F

Average number of air frosts 1

Rainfall average (1903 to 2007) 1.59 inches

Days with rain 11

Average month's sunshine………………………………… ..214 hours

Midday sun altitude (May 15) 57 degrees

North Sea temperature (10 miles out) 52F

Highest daytime maximum temperature 80F on May 24 1989

Lowest daytime maximum temperature 42F on May 4 1979

Coldest night 28F on May 3 1981

Highest recorded wind speed 55 mph on May 28 2000

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