Attenborough’s Weather in January 2014
Photo: Another rain band in the Trent Valley!
With an average pressure of 998 millibars, (long-term norm: 1013mb) January 2014 can most certainly be described as a ‘low pressure month’, as depression after depression swept across the land, bringing rain and gales to most of the country. One day, however, a more localised effect of the unsettled weather affected the midlands, bringing an afternoon of dramatic weather to Attenborough Nature Reserve and the surrounding districts.
It was the 25th and the Nature Reserve was enjoying a pleasant Saturday for late January, with the thermometer reaching 9oC by lunchtime. The ‘better than forecasted’ conditions brought people out to the Nature Reserve for a walk and the Nature Centre enjoyed a busy morning. Advancing from the northwest, however, was a band of rain associated with a cold front moving southeast over the country. This was no ordinary rain band, but a squall line; essentially an organised band of thunderstorms with strong gusts of wind and plenty of lightning, and sometimes tornadoes, mixed in.
Visitors described the sky as blue, with ducks seen on the open water of the lakes, and then at 2.30pm, the sky suddenly went black, the ducks sought shelter behind the islands, and then it started! A wall of water descended from the cumulonimbus clouds that stood miles high above the Nature Reserve, the torrential rain dropped so much moisture in such a short amount of time that the air went misty. With the tops of these thunderclouds colder than your freezer, hail as big as peas was observed in surrounding areas. Frequent lightning, described as both fork and sheet filled the sky, and the thunder was described as ‘rumbling and clap-free’. The winds descending with the rain gusted to 40mph. Only 4mm of rain had fallen in the twenty minutes that it took the storm to pass through, but in that time it seemed every visitor to the Nature Reserve was now cramped into the Nature Centre, drying out and ordering a hot cup of tea.
The temperature immediately dropped 5oC once the cold front/squall line had passed over, and no doubt the big temperature difference ahead and behind the front, contributed to the ferocity of the thunderstorms. So were there any ‘high pressure days’ in January bringing settled conditions, I hear you ask. Well, we did have literally one or two, but the highest pressure reading for the month – 1024mb on the 11th – was the lowest ‘maximum reading’ recorded in January since 1984. As I write this last sentence, the date is the 5th February, the wind is howling outside and the pressure reading on my weather station is showing 970mb…it does seem that February 2014 might be a ‘low pressure month’ too!
Attenborough Weather Data for January 2014 (including long-term norms)
Average temperature: 6.3oC (4.9oC)
Highest temperature: 11.5oC, 6th January (12.1oC)
Lowest temperature: -1.2oC, 20th January (-4.2oC)
Monthly rainfall: 91.7mm (52.3mm)
Solar panels output: 227Kwh (260Kwh)