1959

1959 was a very pleasant year, with a wonderful extended summer, fromn 5th May to the middle of October - people were not to see a summer as good till 1976 (and even then the length of the wonderful summer of 1959 was greater). It was the length and quality of the summer, rather than presence of extreme highs, that made it notable. Many places in the east went from August 14 to October 9 were without rain, and May to September still remains the driest such period on record. Fortunately 1958 had been a wet year. Finningley (Doncaster) lasted 59 days. A very sunny autumn. At 11.53C CET, the equal warmest autumn of the century. Southampton had 136 days above 70F this year (and 33 days above 25C, bettered by Cambridge with 37). This year is also interesting because 11 out of 12 months were above average temperature. Indeed, the longest sequence of consecutive warmer-than-average months (17) began in February.


January. The sunniest January since records began (in about 1875). The average for England and Wales was 84 hours. Leuchars (Fife) set its record January sunshine total of 101 hours. Bournemouth enjoyed the record January total sunshine yet: 115 hours. It was a cold month overall (CET 1.6). There was snow at times, with some heavy snow in the north. The 15th was a cold day, with a maximum of only -5C at Renfrew.

February. Very dry: the second driest February on record (with only 9 mm in England and Wales). Overall cold with frequent fog. There were some severe frosts in the north at first, but it was warm at the end: 18.9C was recorded at Greenwich on the 28th. The pressure reached 1047 mbar over southern England on on the 16th. Sunny in the west but dull in the east.

March. Mild. Very dry in the NE but wet in the W and SW. A dull month, and changeable midmonth.

April. Quite warm, with a warm spell midmonth. Sunny in the east but dull elsewhere. It was wet in the SW, with Plymouth seeing twice the average rainfall. Birmingham had 38 mm of rain on the 16th.

May. A glorious extended summer began on the 5th. The second week was particularly warm. It was hot and sunny at the end of the month, particularly in Scotland.

June. Warmer than average (15.2C CET). On the 14th it reached 28.3C at Dundee. The highest pressure record for June was set this month: 1043 mbar over Northern Ireland.

July. Hot (17.3C CET) and very sunny. Part of a superb summer, but some thundery interludes midmonth. There was a very warm spell in the 4-8th. The highest temperature of the year was recorded on the 5th: 35.6C at Gunby (Lincs.; although this reading might have been too high), with a more reliable high of 34.4C at Cromer and 33.3C at London Heathrow and in Norfolk. There were some violent thunderstorms in the south from the 9th to the 11th as low-pressure systems moved NE from Spain across southern England, with some particularly spectacular thunderstorms on the night of the 10-11th. Hailstones with a diameter of 5 cm caused damage at Wokingham on the 9th; this was the first identified supercell storm. At Watford, 19 mm of rain fell in 10 minutes on the 9th. 63.5 mm of rain fell in 20 minutes at Hindolveston in Norfolk on the night of the 10-11th (equal third highest rainfall rate of the century, and is still the highest 20 minute rainfall record for the UK); 59 mm of rain fell in 100 minutes at Heathrow, and 44mm in 30 minutes at Northolt; and a total of 89 mm at Swaffham Priory (Cambs.), with flooding. Then many places had no measurable rain from the 11-25th across the southeast. There were more thunderstorms at the end of the month.; 45 mm of rain in 60 minutes at Garstang on the 26th. As a consequence rainfall totals for the month were very variable across the country.

August. Very warm (17.2). Part of a wonderful extended summer. The last notable thunderstorms of the season gave 130 mm of rain at Porlock (Somerset) on the 10th, and 90mm at Birmingham. The highest temperature of the month was 31C at Finningley (near Doncaster) on the 20th. There was a 37 day drought in London from 15 August until 20 September.

September. Part of a good extended summer. The driest September on record. Many areas in the east (and Plymouth, for some reason, was also extremely dry, with 0.1mm) had no rain at all, and the average across England and Wales was 8.4 mm (about 10%). Near Colchester and Lowestoft there was no measurable rain at all in the period 14 August - 9 October inclusive (57 days, the longest period since spring 1893). Finningley (Doncaster) lasted 59 days. Very fine, with notable heatwave: 30C in Gatwick on the 11th. It was also very sunny (255 hours in Plymouth).

October. A very warm and mostly sunny first half, with a notable heatwave. It was 28.3C in several places in the southeast on the 3rd (e.g. Rugby, Faverhsam, Mickleham), and readings in excess of 27C were widespread during the first week, on southerly and southeasterly winds. After the great summer, the ground was dry; there were water shortages in the NW, and the football pitches at Eton were deemed to hard to allow football to be played on them. The rain that fell in eastern England on October 10 was the first for 58 days (from August 14). The weather deteriorated on the 17th and ended cold and stormy, though. It was particularly bad in Scotland on the 27th, with gales. The month was the second sunniest October on record, with 39% sunshine above average.

November. About average temperatures overall. Mostly unsettled and wet, although on the 12th there was persistent fog, with some very low temperatures in eastern England (with day time temperatures beneath freezing).

December. Quite mild, but stormy with gales. Wet, and the wettest for 21 years at Kew.