According to Tim Burt at the Durham University Observatory, August 2022 was the 2nd hottest August in Durham since 1843 (when the record began). It was beaten only by August 1975, a month I remember vividly too. There were 23 days over 20 degC. The average for the month was 17.5 degC at my station in Gilesgate, whilst the Durham University station returned 17.3 degC.
The heat of July 2022 returned in August, with a peak of 30.6 degC on the 10th. This made it the 3rd warmest August day on record, and the following day also exceeded 30 degC in Gilesgate, coming in at 30.3 degC. The Durham Observatory site was a little cooler on this occasion. The hot spell from 9th-14th all had maximum temps over 27 degC.
Rainfall records show August 2002 to be the 3rd driest August since 1868 in Durham. Only 14mm was counted at Gilesgate, with half of that total falling on the 20th. There had been virtually no rain until then.
I don’t record sunshine totals on my weather station, but Tim Burt reckons this was also the 4th sunniest August on record, with 222 hours total. This represents 48% of the possible.
August 2022 Summaries
The Summer of 2022
June 2022 was 10th hottest. July was the 2nd hottest on record, and August was 2nd hottest. It is not then surprising that Durham experienced the hottest overall summer since records began in 1843. It was also notably dry. with only 54% of average rainfall. and the 8th sunniest on record since 1880, with just two sunless days!
The start of July was relatively cool and mainly cloudy, with short periods of rainfall being typical in the first week, although quantities were small.
The 6th was a windy day for July. Temperatures then began to rise after the first week, with some forecasts indicating a spell of very hot weather around 17th.
The weather was in spectacular form for the Durham Miner’s Gala on 9th July, with blue skies and warm, dry conditions. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Great for guzzling beer!
By 11th July, the mean stood at 18.0 degC (Mean Max 22.3, Mean Min 13.6), with only 5.9 mm of rain collected.
As we got closer to the forecast hot spell, it was expected that the extreme predictions would moderate a bit. Models were showing that the 40 degC mark could be breached over the period 17th-19th July. This wasn’t the case, the predictions firmed up and it was clear that we were in for some seriously hot weather!
Sunday 17th July
The warnings started coming in, and they were upgrades!
At first, it seemed that the hottest temperatures were going to be Sunday/Monday, but they were pushed back a couple of days. The top temp in Gilesgate on Sunday 17th was a modestly warm 27.8 degC.
Monday 18th July
The temperature hit 33.7 degC, which equalled my record from July 2019. It was getting seriously hot, but was forecast to get hotter still. Reports started to come in of wildfires destroying property and farmland in the tinder dry conditions across the country.
Tuesday 19th July
The excitement was building by the hour. By about 10am on the morning of 19th, the old national record from Cambridge Botanic Gardens (38.7 degC) had been easily eclipsed. Other stations started to report hotter and hotter temperatures.
Would the 40 degC mark be beaten? It was beaten in a couple of places, but the new record is now from Conningsby, Lincolnshire, at 40.3 degC. The east side of the country was the hottest, and the high temps pushed a long way north, including high into Durham.
As seen in the video, my site in Gilesgate reached 37.5 degC. At Durham University Observatory on Potters Bank, the new record was 36.9 degC. This obliterated the old record by 4 degrees. A historic day.
For the month as a whole, the mean was 18.2 degC. This ranks in the top three warmest ever Julys. The average daily high was 23.0 degC, and 10 days hit 25.0 degC or higher.
As is usual after a hot spell, the atmosphere provided a lot of moisture, and 50+ mm fell in the last 10 days to give a total of 65.3mm, which is normal for July. The wettest day was the 25th, with 24.4mm counted.
The British have always been obsessed by the weather. Astronomers at Durham Observatory began weather observations in 1841; weather records continue unbroken to this day, one of the longest continuous series of single-site weather records in Europe. Durham Weather and Climate since 1841represents the first full publication of this newly digitised record of English weather, which will be of lasting appeal to interested readers and climate researchers alike.
The book celebrates 180 years of weather in north-east England by describing how the records were (and are) made and the people who made them, examines monthly and seasonal weather patterns and extremes across two centuries, and considers long-term climate change.
Extensive links are provided to full daily weather records back to 1843. This volume is a sister publication to Oxford Weather and Climate since 1767 by the same authors, published by Oxford University Press in 2019.
Durham University has a venerable history of observational climate science. When Gordon Manley, perhaps the greatest British climatologist of the 20th century, arrived in Durham in 1928 to establish the Department of Geography, he resolved to place the Durham Observatory weather records on the same basis as those of the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford, which had long been recognised as a valuable resource. This book updates and extends Manley’s pioneering work. ― Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University
This definitive book beautifully discusses the variations in the weather and climate in Durham over nearly two centuries, including all the highs and lows. The long-term view provided by these detailed records clearly highlights the warming of our climate and the fingerprint of human influence on our weather, even at this local scale. ― Ed Hawkins MBE, University of Reading, UK
This lovingly-crafted history will be the envy of all long-term weather stations around the world. Tim and Stephen have respectfully interpreted the painstaking efforts of those who came before them, delivering an engaging and useful volume which transports you to the University grounds throughout the seasons and the decades.
As the Earth continues to warm, these kinds of careful histories will only become more important. ― Linden Ashcroft, The University of Melbourne, Australia
Durham Weather and Climate since 1841 undertakes a comprehensive rescue and analysis of this hugely valuable long-term meteorological station record including an in-depth reconstruction of the station history.
The resulting meticulous data analysis provides key new insights into long-term UK climate changes that are essential to understanding our rapidly changing climate. ― Peter Thorne, ICARUS Climate Research Centre, Maynooth University, Ireland
Climate science relies on long, carefully re-evaluated meteorological records. It is this long-term view that allows changes in weather and climate to be assessed and put into perspective. In Durham Weather and Climate since 1841, Tim Burt and Stephen Burt, two widely-known experts in the field, present another long record.
The book describes the history of weather and climate in northern England and the role of weather in daily lives. It tells the story of meteorological measurements in Durham, which at the same time is a story about astronomy, the University and about the life-long dedication of individuals such as Gordon Manley – and the authors of this book. ― Stefan Brönnimann, University of Bern, Switzerland
Durham has long been known for its eminence in meteorology and climatology. In this beautifully illustrated volume, Stephen Burt and Tim Burt place Durham’s long record of observations in their complete historical and social context.
They describe the struggles and accomplishments of the observers, both the famous and those who quietly carried out their daily duties. Burt and Burt take these centuries’ worth of observations and turn them into analytical descriptions of Durham’s climate, month by month and season by season, linking climatic events with citizen’s daily lives.
Packed with statistics, meteorological and climatological analysis, and historical commentary, this will be of interest to anyone interested in long-term climate change, observational records, historical climatology, weather analysis and the history of meteorology. ― Victoria Slonosky, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Durham provides an excellent record for discussing climate change in north-east England and for a wider area. ― Chris Folland, Met Office, Exeter, UK
While the Durham record is less well-known than the Oxford one, it is still impressive and its analysis will give a picture of a very different location. Climate change is an increasingly significant issue. The volume is very timely. ― Andrew Goudie, University of Oxford
About the Authors
Dr Stephen Burt has published widely on many and varied aspects of British climatology, including case studies of notable weather events including gales, snowstorms, heatwaves and thunderstorms, and citizen science data rescue projects including the hourly Ben Nevis Observatory records and 350 years of Met Office rainfall data.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and a member of the American Meteorological Society and the Scientific Instruments Society. Previous books include Oxford Weather and Climate since 1767 (with Tim Burt) and The Weather Observer’s Handbook. He is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading.
Tim Burt retired in 2017 after 21 years as Master of Hatfield College and Professor of Geography at Durham University. Before that, he was Lecturer in Physical Geography at Oxford University and a Fellow of Keble College (1984-96) and Director of the Radcliffe Meteorological Station (1986-96). Tim has run the Durham Observatory weather station since 2001, not as old as the Radcliffe, but still with records dating from 1843.
Tim has published widely on the Durham and Oxford records as well as in other areas of physical geography (notably, hydrology and water quality, fluvial geomorphology). He is now an Emeritus Professor at Durham University and a Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol. An undergraduate at Cambridge, Tim has an MA from Carleton University, Ottawa, and a PhD and DSc from the University of Bristol.
April was a very unremarkable month, temperature-wise.
The mean came in at 8.7 degC, which is only very slightly above the 1991-2020 average (8.3). After hitting 20 degC in March 2022, the top temp for April could only reach 18.9 degC on 17th. This is modest.
Early in the month, so often the case for April, there was an air frost. The minimum was -0.6 degC on 2nd April. That was the only occurrence. In April 2021 there were 10 air frosts.
The dry start to the year continued with yet another dry month. The total of 27.7 mm was only slightly more than half the expected rain when compared to the 1991-2020 average of 51.2 mm.
The rains came on 15 days. Most of the rain total fell in the first half, with 12th (7.5 mm) and 7th (7.1 mm) being the wettest days.
Again, an anticyclonic month, with 24 days. There was quite a large range in April 2022, from 974.2 mb on 7th to 1038.5 mb by the 28th.
The month came in like a Lion, with a notable cyclonic period between 4th and 8th. There were no further visiting depressions after that, none coming close to us in Durham at any rate.