Monday, January 20, 2020

Turned out NIce

In early 2014 I wrote a couple of blog-posts here and here about the extreme weather that caused flooding in much of southern England and famously in the Somerset Levels. I included this little diagram that reminds us that common events are, er, common and rare events less so.

Extreme weather events are not always as unpleasant as the floods of 2014. Today, January 20th 2020 we have another extreme weather event but it has been largely ignored as it has merely produced a nice day.  Here's today's isobaric chart from the Met Office:

There have only been two previous occasions when air pressure has topped 1050 mb in the English record: on the 28th of January 1905 at Falmouth, Cornwall, (1053.1 mb) and  on the 26th of January 1932 at Stonyhurst, Yorkshire (1051.0 mb). There have been another half dozen such events in Scotland.

Extreme weather events are, of course, more noticeable when they affect people adversely. Just at the western edge of the chart above one can see the depression that brought extreme snowfall to Newfoundland, described anecdotally by the good folk of St Johns as like nothing they can remember, as they dug their cars out of the drifts. The past three weeks have seen two cyclones cross Fiji. The bush fires of Australia have dominated the headlines, leaving little room for the floods in Indonesia. Southern Africa is dominated by drought and earlier flooding in South Sudan, which wiped out crops, threatens to conspire with poor governance to produce famine over the coming months. The climate change attribution to all these events becomes ever more clear. We have 'only' had a little over 1 degree of global heating so far. As average temperatures rise past 2 degrees towards 3 or four later this century we will need to do more than hold on to our hats.

Yet sometimes, an extreme weather event just produces a nice day.

Post-script Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Our extreme high pressure (1050.5 hPa in South Wales on Monday, a new record) is linked to the extreme rainfall on Spain's east coast, connected by an extreme jetstream going in an unusual direction.


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