Wet May failed to shine

IN his monthly review, Evening Star weatherman KEN BLOWERS looks back on a May with exceptionally high rainfall and a marked sunshine deficit.AFTER one of the driest Aprils for more than a 100 years, last month was one of the wettest Mays on record.

IN his monthly review, Evening Star weatherman KEN BLOWERS looks back on a May with exceptionally high rainfall and a marked sunshine deficit.

AFTER one of the driest Aprils for more than a 100 years, last month was one of the wettest Mays on record.

From May 7 to May 16 there was measurable rain on every day and a Bank Holiday deluge brought rainfall to nearly five inches.

The average for the month was 1.60 inches.


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There was a marked deficit of sunshine and over the region as a whole there was a loss of some 80 hours. May is normally the sunniest month of the year in East Anglia but last month Wattisham Airfield registered only 129.3 hours - 83 hours below the long-term average.

The first two days of the month were cloudless with more than 12 hours of sunshine. Then an Atlantic weather pattern set in and depressions gave many successive days of rain and frequent low temperatures.

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The outstanding event of the month was the 48-hour downpour during the late-spring bank holiday.

It was caused by a small and quite intense depression that moved along the English Channel giving two inches of rain over a wide area and three inches along parts of the south coast.

It was one of the wettest bank holidays on record and cold northerly winds in the rear of this low pressure system brought day temperatures down to 50F(10C).

Rainfall of this intensity gives 200 tons of water to the acre or two million tons of water within the boundary of Ipswich.

Total rainfalls for May were Higham (Suffolk) and Ipswich 4.92 inches, Wattisham 4.70 in, and Belstead Hall 4.64 in.

The met office at Wattisham reported that it was the second wettest May on record.

Despite the unsettled weather there were brief spells of fine weather and the hottest day of the month was May 24 when the mercury touched 76F(24C).

From May 14 to May 21 a blocking anticyclone was centred over or in the immediate vicinity of the British Isles. It produced several magnificent days of unbroken sunshine, favourable temperatures, low humidity and light winds. It was weather once described by a leading climatologist as unequalled anywhere else on earth.

In the last 160 years only four years have seen May rainfall exceeding four inches. The last was in 2000 when 4.76 inches was registered in Ipswich. In this year 1.67 inches of rain fell on May 29 accompanied by hail and thunder. It was the wettest May since 1924 when 4.77 inches fell.

Maximum daytime temperature 62F

Night minimum temperature 44F

Air frosts 1

Ground frosts 5

Rainfall (1903 to 2006) 1.59 inches

Days with rain 11

Duration of rain (24 hours) 29 hours

Month's sunshine 214 hours

Maximum possible daily sunshine 15.6 hours

Midday sun altitude (May 15) 57 degrees

Barometric pressure (mean sea level) 1015 millibars

North Sea temperature (10 miles out) 52F

Highest maximum daytime temperature 80F on May 24 1989

Lowest minimum daytime temperature 42F on May 4 1979

Lowest night temperature 28F on May 3 1981

Maximum recorded wind speed in a gust 55 mph on May 12 1976

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