Noctilucent Cloud Display over NE England June 2019

noctilucent clouds by mike ridley photography
noctilucent clouds over durham city Noctilucent Clouds over Durham City, June 17th/18th 2019 by Mike Ridley Photography

Some of you eagle-eyed skywatchers will have noticed a ghostly glow in the sky on the way back from the pub in recent days. Was it real? Was it just an illusion caused by too much Gin? No, what you saw was real and is called ‘Noctilucence’. It is a spectacular display of very high clouds.

Noctilucence is exhibited by clouds that shine at night (Noctilucent means ‘night shining’ in Latin). Noctilucent Clouds exist in the upper atmosphere (Mesosphere), at a height of around 50 miles. They are composed of ice crystals and can only be seen in astronomical twilight. That means they are best seen in the summer months, but they are too faint to be seen in daylight. They require moisture, dust and very cold temperatures (less than -120 degC) to form. The Mesosphere is at it’s coldest in the summer months, so favours their formation.

The clouds shine on summer nights when the sun is below the horizon at ground level, whilst up at 50 miles the noctilucent clouds are still in the sunlight. The whispy clouds seem to glow in this ghostly manner. They are a comparatively recent discovery and are not fully understood, but they seem to be occurring more often and with increasing brightness.

There have been some fantastic photos posted on the internet in the last week or so, but the best I have seen relevant to us is from Mike Ridley who took this superb composite photo over Durham City from Whinney Hill on 17th/18th June 2019.

Here’s Mike’s link.

Mike Ridley Photography

noctilucent clouds by mike ridley photography Noctilucent Clouds over Durham City, June 17th/18th 2019 by Mike Ridley Photography

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May 2019 Monthly Report – Not really settled yet

May 2019 Summary

May opened disappointingly cool, with the preponderence of winds from an Northerly and Easterly sector, the direction no-one wants at this time of the year. There was no real warmth until the 13th and then only for three days! Temperatures did recover a bit in the second half, to give an overall mean of 10.9 degC, which is still on the cool side for May.

The rainfall total was also on the low side for May, continuing the rather dry Spring. Rain was well spread, with only two short dry periods. The wettest day was the 8th, with 12.2mm. Some areas of the North East had very heavy thundery showers towards the end of the month, with reports of a funnel cloud from the Bishop Auckland area on 28th.

There was more anticyclonic influence in May than low pressure, but it was just drifting about in the wrong place to offer much of an early taste of summer. Ah well, let’s see what June brings.


May 2019 Weather Nationally (Trevor Harley)

A rather cool changeable month with some cold and warm spells. The final two days were very warm in the SE. Dry in Wales and the south but wetter elsewhere, giving an average of 93% of rainfall. Average sunshine although cloudier in the north. There was a fine spell in the north mid-month and indeed the highest temperature of the month was 25.8C at Kinlochwere (Ross and Cromarty) on the 15th. The lowest temperature was -6.2C at Kinbrace (Sutherland) on the 7th.


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Funnel Cloud seen over North East England – 28th May 2019

Funnel cloud seen over north east england 28th may 2019

 

The report above appeared in the Northern Echo newspaper on 29th May 2019.

The axis of funnel clouds may be vertical, inclined (as seen here), or sometimes long and sinuous.  In the UK it is usually tens of metres in diamater (not huge). It is much rarer for funnel clouds to touch the ground and that is when they become tornadoes, but it does happen occasionally. Most UK tornado reports come from The Midlands, Central, Southern and South East England and East Anglia. Our very own Tornado Alley!

If you see a funnel cloud or suspected tornado, you should report it to TORRO (Tornado and Storm Research Organisation). They catalog such stuff and produce stats and mapping.

There are 40 tornadoes per year recorded on average in the UK. England has the highest reported incidence of tornadoes per square mile in the World. That usually surprises a few people, but it’s true!

The longest ground track by a tornado in the UK was in May 1950, when a tornado traveled 107km from Buckinghamshire to Cambridgeshire.

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Skating on the River Wear in February 1895

This photo was taken (we think) in February 1895. It shows people sweeping the ice on the river, perhaps preparing it for skating or maybe a curling competition. The location is just below Prebends Bridge.

February 1895 was one of the coldest Februaries ever recorded in Durham.

Trevor Harley Summary of Feb 1895

”Part of a severe winter, and the coldest February on record before 1947 this century (-1.8C CET).

The weather turned cold in late December 1894; January was cold but the weather of February 1895 was historic. Braemar logged at least -20C on 9 days.

The record February low, and equal all-time record low (along with 1982 and 1995) temperature of -27.2C was set on the 11th at Braemar. The Thames froze completely in places, the last Thames freeze. disrupting shipping, and on the 28th the River Mersey was frozen from shore to shore.

Icebergs were seen floating down the North Sea. There were some very low daytime maxima: the maximum in London on the 8th was just -6C. The period 4th-6th is probably one of the most intensely cold spells seen in Britain in modern times, although the freeze affected all of Europe (and it was also cold in North America).

Temperatures were very cold further south, too. -19.6C at Rounton in Yorkshire on 10 February. The Isle of Man recorded its lowest ever temperature on the 9th and 12th, with -11.7C at Douglas. The weather improved towards the end of the month, but the freeze didn’t really end until early March.

This winter for some marks the end of the Little Ice Age, after which global warming saw cold winters become less frequent. There wasn’t another notable winter until 1947.”

https://www.trevorharley.com/weather-february.html

Noticeable is how little vegetation cloaks the slopes below the Cathedral. The building to the left of the photograph is the Old Fulling Mill.

Prebends Bridge can be seen in this photograph, everyone is skating!

The exact source of the photos is unknown.

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April 2019 Monthly Report – Still a deficit of rainfall

April began quite cold, with some snow over high ground and even to lower levels in Durham. None of it lay on the ground, but the strong north westerly and northerly winds made it feel unseasonably cold. It gradually began to warm up by day, but cold at night before mid month.

It was quite wet in the first week, with 21.4mm falling in the period 2nd-4th, but then the weather turned dry and nothing was recorded at all in the period from the 8th to the 24th.

The weather peaked over the Easter weekend, with sunny fine conditions and real Spring warmth. Saturday 20th was the warmest, with 24.1 degC recorded. This was almost equalled on Palm Sunday (21st), with 23.6 degC. Unusually, conditions close to the coast also remained warm. By the following week, low pressure was in charge again and temperatures dropped back to normal for late April.

Overall, the mean temperature was marginally above average, but rainfall was way below normal, with only around 60% of normal long term April rain recorded. Only 7 days had measurable rainfall, with 2nd and 3rd responsible for half the eventual monthly total.

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