May 2020 Weather in Durham – Warm, Dry and Sunny Again

Picture by Mark Pritchard

The Weather in Durham in May 2020.

May 2020 continued the Spring theme in Durham, that it was very dry overall, after the first few days, but they yielded some heavy hail showers on May 3rd. This picture was taken in Darlington, about 18 miles to the south of Durham. The weather soon calmed down though and the overwhelming feature was the anticyclone close to the UK, almost all the way through the month after the first couple of days.

Sunny as well – according to The Met Office. Sunshine records were broken across the country in Spring 2020. Could this be due to the drop in air pollution during Coronavirus lockdown? I don’t know, but the weather has been beautiful. Here’s a little graphic showing the stats in a nutshell.

I don’t record sunshine totals at Durham because of the restrictions around my location (buildings obstructing the site), but it seems conditions were more or less the same all over the country. However, the long term figures for Durham University indicate that 447.4hrs of sunshine is normal for Durham.

Here’s a link to the Met Office for more detailed info.

May 2020 becomes the sunniest calendar month on record

Temperature in May 2020

The temperature in May 2020 was well above normal. The long term means for Durham are Max 15.0 degC and Min 6.1 degC. Here are the daily records.  The mean maximum came in at 18.2 degC, which is 3.2 degC above average. The average minimum was also 2.0 degC above average.

The thermometer passed the 25 degC mark on 3 days (20th, 28th and 29th) and was also over 20 degC on a further 7 days. The absolute maximum was 27.2 degC on the 29th. The chilly nights of the 2nd week resulted in the minima of 1.9 degC early on the morning of the 13th.

Rainfall in May 2020

May 2020 was very dry, with only 18.8 mm recorded. This came after the very low total for April 2020. This made the total rainfall for Spring a meagre 44.6 mm. The mean rainfall for Spring in Durham is 141.5 mm, so a 68.5% deficit.

Atmospheric Pressure in May 2020

The mean pressure for the month was 1025.1 mb, which is incredibly high for a monthly average. 28 of the month’s days could be classified as Anticyclonic, with only the 1st, 2nd and 22nd dropped into cyclonic territory. This probably explained the low rainfall totals.

The high pressure wasn’t always in the right place for optimum warmth, at times dragging in a cold breeze from the North Sea, most notably in the second week.

Summary for May 2020

Another exceptional month. The extreme dryness came after a very prolonged wet spell spanning the second half of 2019 up until February 2020. Because of this, the water table was already exceptionally high at the start of the year and no difficulties should really be had over the summer months.

It remains to be seen whether the balmy conditions continue into June 2020, but the early signs don’t look too good, with northerly winds and rain forecast in the early part of the month.

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