1939 saw a wet January, a July frost, an August storm, and a wet October in the south. The warmish spell that had persisted from before the start of this century ended with the very cold winter of 1939-40.
January. The second wettest of the century in England and Wales. Also some violent gales. The month cycled between cold and snowy and wet, mild, windy spells. The area between London and Norwich had three times the normal rainfall: 128mm at Chelmsford, 221%. Many lives were lost on the 23rd when the St Ives lifeboat capsized off Cornwall. The 4th was very cold: a minimum of -17 at Dalwhinnie was followed by a maximum there of only -6; and it was -15 at the Newport (Shropshire) cold spot early on the 6th. There was heavy snow on the 25th and 26th in the south, with a severe snowstorm over high ground in the SW. 50cms of snow in Berks, Wilts, and Hants; 35 cm in Hampstead Heath. Strong winds caused drifting. The preciptation fell as heavy rain or sleet further east: 64 mm at Hadleigh, near Ipswich. 24 hrs of continuous rain at Ipswich lead to the worst floods for 38 years.
February. A sunny month. It was mild and wet in Scotland and the NW, and dry and mild elsewhere.
March. A dull month in England, but sunny in Scotland. Average temperatures over all, but a cold spell with NE winds between the the 25th and 29th. Dry in the SW but wet in southern Scotland and NE England.
April. Generally an unsettled month with cold spells. However, there was a fine, warm spell in the second week, when 26C was recorded at Cromer and Herne Bay on the 12th. It was a dry month in the north but wet in the south.
May. A very dry month. It was cool at the beginning and between the 12th and 20th, but there was a warm spell between the 7th and 11th; a man was killed by lightning in a thunderstorm at Edniburgh on the 7th. The last eight days were very sunny and warm.There were 132 hours of sunshine in the last ten days of the month in Torquay.
June. There was a fine sunny start to the month, with 32C (90F) reached at Camden on the 7th. There were some very large daily ranges of 40-50F int this spell. At Houghall, County Durham there was a 47F range on 3rd & 4th and a 42F range on the 5th & 6th. The actual maximum and minimum temperatures recorded at Houghall on these dates:
3rd June 1939 - Minimum 30F (-1.1C), Maximum 77F (25.0C)
4th June 1939 - Minimum 37F (2.8C), Maximum 84F (28.9C)
5th June 1939 - Minimum 40F (4.4C), Maximum 82F (27.8C)
6th June 1939 - Minimum 45F (7.2C), Maximum 87F (30.6C)
The second half of the month was cool and changeable. On the 17th there was supposedly a downpour of frogs at Trowbridge (Wilts.).
July. The temperature fell to -0.1C at the Rickmansworth frost hollow on the 2nd. The month was very wet in Scotland. 80 mm of rain fell at Borrowdale on the 21st. It was a dull month everywhere.
August. It was cool and wet at first; 57 mm of rain fell at Kew in the first four days. There was thunder on the 4th and 5th; 52 mm at Maldon. Fine and warm 11-19th, and then more thunder. 118 mm of rain in 6 hours at Blandford Forum. It turned very humid on the 20th. Thunderstorms in London on the 21st, with severe flooding at Ealing. 7 people were killed and 19 injured when lightning struck a corrugated iron hut being used at a shelter in Valentine's park, Ilford. Large hailstones reported in Surrey.
September. Overall a dry month. However, there were some severe thunderstorms on the 2-3rd. 80mm of rain at Rotherham on the 2nd, 75mm at Swanage. There were landslides at Dunoon (SW Scotland) on the 3rd. The first nine days were very warm, with night fog. Southend recorded 28.3C on the 8th. There was an absolute drought in many places from the 14th to 30th. At Ross-on-Wye it was the second driest September since 1910.
October. Unusually, this month was very dry in the NW of England, but very wet in the SE. A very easterly month. A cool month (8.2), unusually it was cooler than the November that followed. Kent was wetter than Snowdonia: a number of places in Kent exceeded 250 mm; Margate had 261 mm - which is 25 mm than it had in the whole of 1929.
November. Another very warm month (8.7C CET) - bettered only by 1994 and, incredibly, 1938. It was one of the three occasions this century when November has been warmer than the preceding October. It was also a wet month.
December. A dry month and dull in Scotland. Slightly cooler than average. The month ended with a northerly airstream and a cold spell, auguring what was to come in. Several places were snow covered by Boxing Day 1939.