Joint-warmest March for East Anglia

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March 2017 was a remarkably mild and relatively dry month across East Anglia. Average temperatures across the region were ~2.5C above normal, making this the joint warmest March on record for our region (tied with 1938). Total rainfall varied between 26mm and 44mm at six weather stations across the region, approximately 75% of the 1981-2010 average. It was slightly sunnier than average with a total of 129 hours of sunshine recorded at Wattisham There were no reports of falling or lying snow during the month and there was a lack of any notable cold snap. Across six stations examined here (Santon Downham, Cromer, Wattisham, Cambridge NIAB, Cavendish, Marham) there were a total of 5 air frosts, less than 1 at each site, three of these were recorded at Santon Downham in Suffolk.



The first 8 days of March were unsettled with showers or longer spells of rain moving in from the west or south west. During this period all six of the weather stations used here recorded around 50% of their total rainfall for March 2017, between 15 and 25mm. 2nd March was the wettest day of the month at most locations with a front moving east across the region during the early hours of the morning. On 5th March both Wattisham and Marham recorded their minimum pressure for the month of ~985 hPa when an Atlantic depression with a central pressure of 981hPa moved across central Scotland bringing a period of blustery westerly winds. Generally however there were very few strong Atlantic depressions influencing the region and the maximum wind speed gust of 50 mph was recorded at Wattisham on the 2nd March. From 9th March onwards the remainder of the month was largely calm and dry with relatively light winds and little rain.


Anomaly maps compared to the 1981-2010 averages
Click to enlarge


It was remarkably mild throughout the period with Santon Downham recording a mean maximum temperature of 14.1C for the final 23 days of the month, 3.3C above the average March maximum for the 1981-2010 period. At the end of the month there was a spell of warm weather with southwesterly winds and sunny spells, on the 30th the temperature was widely 19-2C, with Cambridge recording the highest temperature of the month in the eastern region of 21.5C.
While the weather was mostly mild during the period there were occasional cooler clear nights, most notably 25th March where there was a widespread ground frost and Santon Downham recorded the minimum temperature in the region for the month -1.6C.

Richard Jones  20th April 2017

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Summary of East Anglian winter 2016/2017

Overall the winter was 1-1.5C milder than average, and total rainfall across the region was typically 100-120mm, approximately 75% of the long term average of 125-150mm. There were fewer than average frosts across the region particularly in February where most stations only had one or two air frosts.


Anomaly maps compared to the 1981-2010 averages
Click to enlarge


Temperatures
December and February were both milder than usual. February in particular was 1.5-2.5C above the 1961-1990 average with spring-like temperatures in the second half of the month, the maximum temperature reached 17.1C at Santon Downham on 20th February. Along with warm maximum temperatures there were also mild minima with fewer than average air frosts in both December and February. In February an average of only two air frosts were recorded at the six weather stations used for this report. In January the average temperature was approximately 1C lower than typically, the only notably chilly month of winter, it also saw the coldest temperature of winter -7.8C at Santon Downham in the early hours of 22nd Jan.

Rainfall
December was a dry month across the east of England with rainfall totals of 17-25mm, around 50% of average. Both January and February had rainfall totals of between 30-50mm which is around or slightly below average. December 10th was widely with the wettest day of the winter but with less than 20mm of rain recorded, thankfully there were no flooding problems this winter.

Sunshine
Sunshine amounts for the winter were above average with 176 sunshine hours recorded at Wattisham. January in particular was a bright month with 75 hours reported, 20% above average.

Winds
The Met Office only named 5 storms between November and February. Strong winds were noticeably absent in December and January with maximum wind gusts not exceeding 52mph at either Wattisham or Marham during either month. On February 23rd it was Storm Doris that had the largest impact across our region. There was a gust of 81 mph recorded at Weybourne on the Norfolk coast, gusts of 65-70 mph were reported quite widely inland across the region. This caused some disruption to transport with power outages and numerous fallen trees (as shown above).

Summary
January was the only colder than average month of winter and 2016/2017 saw remarkably few days with lying snow in our region. There were only seven days on which falling snow was reported and no ice days recorded at the six stations used in this report. February was remarkably mild particularly during the second half of the month.

Richard Jones  20th April 2017