1958

The equal record high for January and the record low for March were both set this year, 1958. A cool, wet summer, but some exceptional September thunderstorms.


January. Cold and snowy at first, later very mild. Cold air swept south on the 19th, with 15cm of snow over large parts of the country; 40cm of snow lay over northern Scotland, and 25 cm of snow lay across Essex on the 24th. It was -18C at Driffield (Yorks) and Shawbury (Shrops.) on the 24th. There was persistent freezing fog; maximum of -5 at Dishforth (Yorks.) on the 23rd. Then the winds changed the SW bringing a dramatic change in temperature as some very mild, wet air crossed the country. Aber (north Wales) reached the record 18.3C on the 27th, thanks to the Fohn effect (whereby air is warmed by descent from mountain ranges) - a record equalled in 1971 and 2003. It also reached as high as 59F (15C) at Prestwick. On the morning of the 25th the minimum at Grantown-on-Spey was -21C; the maximum at Onich (Highland) later was 17C. There was flooding in the north after the thaw and heavy rain.

February. A severe snowstorm in the north of England on the 24th; 10 inches of snow recorded at Rotherham.

March. Some exceptionally cold nights. The record low was set: -22.2C, at Grantown on Spey on the 12th, only to be broken two days later, with -22.8C at Logie Coldstone (Grampian) on the 14th, over deep snow.

April. Humidity of only 14% at Glen Derry (Grampian) on the 2nd. Notable snowfall in the south at Easter (5th).

May. Warm, dry, and sunny first half, wet and unsettled from the 19th.

June. Very wet with some flooding. 184 mm of rain recorded at Kew. It was wet everywhere apart from Lerwick where only 15 mm of rain fell. No day rose over 80F anywhere.

July. Very wet with some flooding.

August. An unsettled, thundery month, with only one hot day (21st). A thunderstorm gave flas-flooding in Waddington on the 10th as 32 mm of rain fell in 38 minutes. There was severe flooding in Manchester on the 22nd, and in the southeast, with lightning damage, on the 28th. Generally dry in the west and southwest but wet in the SE.

September. There were some exceptionally severe thunderstorms following a hot spell at the start of the month. There were particularly notable storms on the 5th and 6th, including hailstones up to 10 cm, flooding, and tornadoes. There was a bright early morning on the 5th, with very high humidity. The temperature widely reached 26C in the south on the 5th, with 27.2C at Whitstable and Mildenhall; the humid air was however very unstable, with temperatures decreasing rapidly with height, enabling some prodigious thunderclouds to develop. There were two main thunderstorm tracts: from Isle of Wight at 3pm to Colchester at 9.30pm; and Brighton from 7 pm moving north. The two tracts merged around 8 pm, giving the most severe weather, where a light easterly breeze met a light northerly. There were some exceptional downpours: 63.5 mm of rain fell in 20 minutes at Sidcup on the 5th (equal to 191 mm per hour, the third highest rainfall rate of the twentieth century), and 131 mm in 2 hours at Knockholt (Kent), along with destructive, large hailstones and tornadoes. At Swanley (also Kent) 57 mm of rain fell in 20 minutes. 1690 flashes of lightning in one hour were recorded in one of these storms. A gust of wind of 85 mph was recorded at Gatwick with one of the accompanying tornadoes. The heaviest recorded hailstone in the UK was caught at Horsham (Sussex) during this storm: it weighed 141g (6.75 oz), with a diameter of approximately 70 mm. The ground was pitted to a depth of 50 mm. Needless to say there was substantial destruction of trees and property across a substantial area. This famous storm is known as the "Horsham hailstorm". There were more severe thunderstorms in the SE on the 6th, with tornadoes, giant hail, and flash-flooding. 130 mm of rain fell in one storm at Sevenoaks. The month as a whole was very wet, with twice the average rainfall falling in Wales, the Midlands, the West, and the London region, although it was dry in Scotland and NE England.

October. Changeable first half, then dry and mild across the country.

November. Dry and dull with some fog. Anticyclonic final fortnight. Less than a quarter of the average rainfall was recorded in some places.

December.Mild and cloudy and wet. Widespread periods of fog and dense in some places. Dry first half, unsettled second half. Dull in the Midlands and South Yorkshire. It was a foggy Christmas Day.