January weather analysis

EVENING Star weatherman KEN BLOWERS looks back on the mildest January for nearly 90 years, and the south-westerly gale that gusted to 72 miles per hour.

EVENING Star weatherman KEN BLOWERS looks back on the mildest January for nearly 90 years, and the south-westerly gale that gusted to 72 miles per hour.

AFTER a record-breaking mild autumn and early winter, last month was the warmest January for nearly 90 years.

At Wattisham Airfield it was the warmest since records began. Other exceptionally mild Januarys were in 1834, 1916 and 1921.

Over most of the region there were 26 days with daytime temperatures above the long-term average of 43F(6C). The warmest day was January 18 with a top reading of 56F(13C) - a temperature more typical of mid-April.

Many lawns were mowed in the mid-winter month, as grass continues to grow when temperatures are constantly above 44F(7C). The exceptional mildness was due to the persistence of south- westerly airstreams, often coming on the long sea track from the sub-tropical Atlantic. This weather pattern gave 16 days with temperatures of 50F(10C) or above.

The most prominent feature of the month was the severe gale of January 18 when the region was battered by a vicious south- westerly blast gusting up to 72 mph. It was the worst gale since March 20, 2004.

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The gale was caused by an intense and deepening depression as it tracked in an easterly direction across Britain and thereafter into Germany and Poland.

Another gale affected the region on January 11 with gusts of 62 mph.

A complete change in the weather pattern occurred on January 22 when an intense anticyclone of 1046 millibars developed to the west of Ireland.

This system brought the winds round to a northerly point and introduced the coldest spell of mid-winter.

Frost developed on four nights and there were three days with snow falling.

In most places the snow accumulated to only an inch and it quickly melted as temperatures recovered to well above freezing point.

Coldest day of the month was January 25 with a maximum temperature of only 39F(4C).

Rainfall was slightly above the average and totalled 2.38 inches at Ipswich. Belstead Hall reported 2.25 inches and in the west of Suffolk the total at Higham was 2.50 inches.

At Wattisham the rainfall amounted to 2.03 inches.

Large cloud concentrations covered a wide area in January and restricted sunshine totals. At Wattisham Airfield there were 59.6 hours - only a few hours above the long-term average.

Highest daytime average 43F

Lowest night average 34F

Average number of air frosts 13

Average number of ground frosts 20

Rainfall average (1903 to 2006) 2.07 inches

Days with rain 15

Duration of rain (24 hours) 43 hours

Average monthly sunshine 56 hours

Maximum possible daily sunshine 8.2 hours

Midday sun altitude (Jan 15) 17 degrees

Barometric pressure (mean sea level) 1015 millibars

North Sea temperature (10 miles out) 42F

Highest day temperature on record 58F on Jan 27 2003

Lowest maximum day temperature 20F(minus 7C) on Jan 12 1987

Highest recorded wind speed 96 mph on Jan 2 1976

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