1954

1954 set the record for the highest rainfall in any one year at one place in Britain: 6527 mm at the aptly named Sprinkling Tarn (Cumbria). It was one of the worst two extended (which includes May and September) summers on record (the other being 1931), and one of the worst summers of the century; some have called it "the worst summer in living memory". There were only 28 days with a maximum above 21C in London, and only one in Belfast, Edinburgh, and Plymouth. In some places April was the sunniest month of the year, and the next month to have more sunshine than average was September. The highest temperature of the "summer" was 1 September, when 30.4C (itself a low highest maximum) was reached in Camden. Overall, it was a very wet year. There was a good wintry spell in late January and early February. The first televised UK weather forecast was broadcast on 11 January.


January. Cold and dry, and sunny in the south. A quiet start, then cyclonic spell midmonth. 15C exceeded somewhere on the 14th, 15th, and 20th. Severe gales on the 15th. It turned cold and wintry from the 24th. Heavy snow fell in the west and south on the 25th and 26th. There was then a notable very cold spell began on the 29th. The exceptional cold continued into the next month.

February. Six days of persistent frost at the beginning: -20C recorded at Welshpool on the 2nd. Very cold NE winds swept across the country in this cold spell. Some places in the soth of England remained beneath freezing from the evening of 29 January to the morning of 7 February. Even at Falmouth in Cornwall it remained beneath freezing for some time. Snow lay six feet deep on the North Downs of Kent, and the sea froze along parts of the Essex coast.

March. A changeable month. Sunny everywhere but particularly in the west.

April. Very dry and sunny, but with some night frosts. In some places it was the sunniest month of the year. There were however few warm days. Many places recorded no rain from the 7th to 29th.

May. A wet start, but then there was a hot, sunny spell in the second week before it turned cooler again. It was warm at the end, with 28C reached in places on the 28th.

June. Changeable, dull and cool. 83 mm of rain fell at Ross on Wye on the 5th. Up to that point it was the dullest June in England and Wales since 1909.

July. Wet, cool, and very dull. The mean temperature at Birmingham for the month was 13.7C, and Aldegrove (Northern Ireland) had just 86 hours of sunshine.

August. Very wet, cool, unsettled, and dull. There was some heavy rain and notable thunderstorms. 80 mm of rain was recorded at Bidston Liverpool on the 15th. 78 mm of rain fell in 1 hour at Freshwater (Isle of Wight) on the 22nd. There was no sunshine recorded at all at Tynemouth between the 16th and the 24th.

September. Although 27C was reached in parts of England on the 1st (and 30.4C at Camden and 30C at Regent's Park, after four days the weather deteriorated to become generally a wet and unsettled month. It waw particularly wet in the NW, but drier in the east and SE. It was a sunny month in parts of the Midlands.

October. Generally mild with spells of warm southerly or southwesterly winds in the south. The month was notably wet in Edinburgh. It reached 23C at Lowestoft on the 17th.

November. A wet month, with more twice the average rain in the southwest. There were a series of violent gales from 26-30th, with loss of life and shipping. The South Goodwin lightship was overturned. Brawdy (Gwynedd) recorded a gust of 100 kn.

December. A destructive tornado hit west and north London on the 8th in the late afternoon, injuring 12, during a very heavy thunderstorm. It destroyed Gunnersbury tube station in west London, ripping the roof off and injuring 6. A car was lifted 15' into the air at Acton. The tornado probably originated in the English channel, off Portsmouth, where a funnel cloud was reported as being sighted, and faded away in Herts. around 5.30 pm. It was associated with a thunderstorm; an inch of rain fell on London. On the 17-18th, 256 mm of rain fell over two days (153 mmon the 17 and 110 on the 18th) - if it had fallen in 24 hours this would have been the record daily rainfall to that date.