St Martin’s Summer – not really on the cards in Kent for 2019

Folklore says St Martin’s Day, 11 November, brings with it a settled spell of weather known as St Martin’s Summer.

Disappointingly, the UKMO forecast chart for St Martin’s Day (, 11 November 2019 leads to a text book forecast: blustery showers, some of which will merge to give longer outbreaks of rain.

UKMO forecast chart for St Matin's Day - 11/11/19
UKMO forecast chart for St Matin’s Day – 11/11/19


History (wikipedia) tells us that St Martin was a Roman cavalry soldier who resettled as a Bishop on leaving the army.  Leaving the Roman equivalent of brightly coloured trousers behind, his Christian career gained some meteorological notoriety in a snow storm.  Turning the tools of his military career to pastoral use he cut his cloak in two in order to share half of it with a beggar.

Statue of Saint Martin cutting his cloak in two above the Höchst Castle’s gate

By Eva K. / Eva K.Eva K. / Eva K., CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Mid-latitude weather can always be relied upon to give some settled spells and there is enough lore out there to expect such a respite on many dates.  In fact, Shakespeare connects St Martin’s Summer with a similar spell of calm weather, halcyon days, expected at the solstice.  Henry VI, Part 1, act 1, scene 2, line 131:

Expect Saint Martin’s summer, halcyon days.

The current forecast from the Met Office doesn’t really promise summer:

St Martin's Day Forecast

with heavy rain for the commute.  Tuesday and Wednesday seem better, but low pressure is not far away.

The time is always ripe for some continued Autumnal feasting as depicted in the featured image.

October 2019 UK Weather Headlines

Source: UKMO Climate Summaries and Wetterzentrale Archives


October 2019 was a typical Autumnal month of mobile UK-Atlantic weather with a succession of depressions, fronts and high-pressure systems bringing unsettled and changeable weather.  At the at the start of the month the ‘eyeballed’ mean low pressure track was to the North West, with depressions moving to the North East through the Iceland/Hebrides gaps trailing fronts across the country giving rain with some settled spells in between.  As the month progressed, this track gradually moved south, as befits the transition of the seasons.  Slower moving complex lows were centred over the UK on and around the 20th.  These were followed by some more intense areas of high pressure responsible for the hard frost in Scotland at the end of the month.


Mean Temperature 9.0 °C (-0.5 °C compared to average)
Rainfall 109% of average
Sunshine 95% of average


Max Temperature 21.3 °C Trawsgoed (Dyfed) 1/10/19
Min Temperature -6.0 °C Altnaharra (Sutherland) on the 31/10/19
Max Rainfall 101.0 mm  Lebanus (Powys) on 26/10/19
Max Wind Gust 66 kt (76 mph) Needles (Isle of Wight) on 18/10/19

UK Sea Level Predictions to 2300

Source: UKMO UK Sea Level Projections

Beach hut owners on the North Kent Coast acquired their plots in the full knowledge that the once if fifty year storm would reduce their hut to broken planks. In fact the last weather disaster in the folk memory was the great flood of 1953.  In fact, the University of Brighton’s Screen Archives South East supplies some photographic evidence of the aftermath:

Hampton - Herne Bay 1953
Hampton – Herne Bay 1953, Screen Archive South East University of Brighton

The Met Office’s UK Sea Level Projections to 2300 reports that “at some locations the 1 in 10,000-year flood event of today could be expected more than once per year by 2300”. This seems to be bad news for beach hut owners; the once in fifty year storm might be expected every week!

These new sea level projections developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre have been published in a report by the Environment Agency. They show continued rise beyond 2100 under all climate change scenarios.

Sea Level Projections Sheerness (UKMO)
extended sea level projections London (Sheerness) – UKMO

Important news for all; not just beach huts at stake.

September 2019 UK Weather Headlines

Source: UKMO Climate Summaries and Wetterzentrale Archives


September 2019 started and ended with an unsettled westerly flow of fronts and depressions but enjoyed a more settled, high pressure dominated, spell in the middle. Slightly warmer than the long term (1981-2010) average, with a little more rain and sunshine than normal.


Mean Temperature 13.1 °C (0.5 °C above average)
Rainfall 127% of average
Sunshine 115% of average


Max Temperature 27.7 °C Weybourne (Norfolk) on the 22nd
Min Temperature -1.6 °C Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on the 8th
Max Rainfall 59.4 mm Fontmell Magna (Dorset) on 24th
Max Wind Gust 61 kt (70mph) Baltasound (Shetland) on the 15th

Towering Cumulus over the London Array

Towering cumulus over the London Array, outer Thames Estuary.  Complex low pressure lies over the North Sea countries.  Watnall balloon suggest unstable to sea surface temperatures with drying up at about 15,ooo ft.  AVHRR image, 1420Z, picks out this development at the end of a cumulus boundary running through the south east.

Atlantic Tropical Storm and Hurricane Forecast

UKMO North Atlantic and Tropical Storm forecast , 1 June 2017, predicts slightly enhanced activity when compared to long term averages. The first storm of the year, Arlene, happened in April.

2017 forecast is:

Tropical Storms (> 39mph wind): 13

Hurricanes (> 74 mph wind): 8

ACE index : 145

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index. A measure of the collective intensity and duration of all named tropical storms and hurricanes during the season.

The first storm of the year, Arlene, happened in April.

Atlantic Hurricane season starts on Wednesday, first of June, what’s in store?

The Atlantic Hurricane seasons starts this week on Wednesday the first of June.

Tropical storm naming is well under way already.  ‘Bonnie’ (featured image) has just been downgraded from ‘Tropical Storm’ to ‘Tropical Depression’ and is the first system to make landfall on the USA this year.

D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 MPH
S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 MPH and 73 MPH
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 MPH and 110 MPH
M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 MPH

The question arises as to the expected intensity of the 2016 season.  Theories link the El Nino (ENSO) to the intensity of the hurricane season.  It is thought that higher than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic follow an El Nino and sea surface temperatures feed energy into tropical storm systems.  This has been an El Nino year.  Other observations report unusually cold regions of the Atlantic Ocean further north which may mitigate any warming later in the season.

Reports are a little mixed:

Reuters reports that US meteorologists at NOAA predict greater than average numbers this year.  NOAA’s website itself is sticking to a ‘near normal’ pattern of tropical storms.  Other reports abound.

Always thought that weather forecasting was a tricky business; it makes weather watching interesting though….



East Africa rains takes lives and destroy infrastructure – El Nino?

News reports communicate that heavy rain, flooding and landslides have taken lives and destroyed infrastructure in East Africa over the last month or so.  Some point the finger at El Nino as being the culprit.

The Africa Rainfall Climatology (NOAA NCEP), which estimates rainfall based on satellite derived cloud top temperature fused with station observations and other measurements, shows considerable areas of above average rainfall (see featured image).

Enhanced tropical rainfall in this region is associated with El Nino with its greater than average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  A chart of current sea surface temperature anomalies follows.

SST Anomaly Apr-May 2016

Latest guidance from NOAA NCEP is that El Nino is present and is weakening.

Carbon Monoxide Plume from Alberta Fires

MODIS imagery from NASA Worldview gave us a clear view of the Fort McMurray forest fires on 6 May 16 with and extensive smoke plume extending towards the south east of the area.

Surface winds appear to be light-ish.  The smoke plume is streaming down the flow in the middle atmospheric layers at 5000 ft.


The Worldview system also allows us to analyse the concentration of the combustion product, CO.  The following split image, covering exactly the same area, shows the more intense area of carbon monoxide in the white and red arc.