1938

A very lively year, particularly at the end. There was a very first half over the southeast; just 65 mm of rain fell from February to June in central London. There was an absolute drought of 38 days at Fort William and Wigtown between April 3 and May 10. Until quite recently this year saw the warmest November on record. One of the best White Christmases of the century.

January. Mostly unsettled, mild and wet, sunny in the north and east but duller than average elsewhere.

February. The month had a mild, wet start. Kinlochquoich in NW Scotland saw 86 mm of rain on the 2nd and 135 mm on the 3rd. There were some cold northerlies midmonth from the 12th untilt the 25th. Snow showers. There was serious flooding on the North Sea coast on the 11th and 12th as a result of strong northerly winds. Gusts of 87 mph in Spurn Head and 86 mph at Felixstowe. The month ended dry and mild.

March. The second warmest of the century (9.1C CET). It was also very wet in the far NW: Kinlochquoich had a massive 252mm on the 29th. On

April. The driest on record (7.1 mm, 12%). There was an absolute drought of 38 days at Fort William and Wigtown between April 3 and May 10, and 37 days at Nottingham. Some locations in the SW reported no rain at all during the month. Unsurprisingly, very anticyclonic - the record anticyclonic April in fact.

May. Cool. There was a frost on the 8th.

June. An unsettled month. Notable gales at the beginning and end. 82mm of rain at Haverfordwest on the 1st; damaging gale on the night of the 1-2nd (Calshot, Hants., recorded at gust of 88mph); and only 8C at Buxton on the 2nd. Another gale on the 27th; 77mph at Belfast. A pressure of only 968mbars on Shetland on the 28th. Overall the month was wet in the west (215mm at Keswick, 110mm of it in the first six days), but dry in the southeast.

July. Dull, cool, and wet across most of the country apart from the SE. A notable tornado hit Boxmoor in the Chilterns on 7th. The 90 m track extended for 9 miles, destroying haaystacks and trees and lifting cars.

August. A month with some notable thunderstorms. The month started hot before it turned thundery. 30C was recorded in London and Reading on the 1st, with thunderstorms in the SW; 31 mm of rain at St Ives. It was 27C over much of the south on the 3rd, with 30C at Bournemouth. On the 4th an exceptionally severe thunderstorm hit east Devon, starting just before dawn. 50 mm of rain fell in 6 hours over a large area from Tintagel to Exmoor; 100 mm reported from Paignton to Two Bridges, and 162 mm recorded at Abbey park in Torquay. There were large hailstones ("as large as small walnuts"), lying 10 cm deep, and almost continuous lightning for four hours. Severe flash flooding followed. There were seven days of thunder in Birmingham during the 4-12th. A thunderstorm at Strahaven in SW Scotland on 11th gave 130mm of rain in nine hours. On the 12th hail lay so deep at Wold Newton (Near Bridlington) that it was still there the next morning.

September. Quite warm but cloudy. Wetter in the east than the west. 28C reached at Southend on the 12th.

October. Very wet and windy at the beginning. 80 mm of rain at Hawkshead Hill (Cumbria) on the 2nd. On the 3rd, much of the north and west had over 25 mm, 50 mm was widespread, and some places in the Lake District and South Wales recorded 125mm. The 4th was particularly stormy as a deep depression (with a low pressure of 953 mbars) moved NE across Scotland, with severe and widespread gales over central Britain, causing widespread damage, with a maximum gust of 104 mph: 95 mph gust at Bidston (Merseyside, where a mean speed of 64 mph was recorded) and 92 mph at Barton (Mancheste). Thunderstorms on the 5th. More heavy rain on the 6th, 8th, and on the 12th Blaenau Ffestiniog had 130 mm. Watendlath Farm (Cumbria) recorded 475 mm from the 2-12th. Drier and quieter midmonth; 21C at Colwyn Bay on the 13th.

November. A very warm month (9.4C CET); until recently, the warmest of the century. Temperatures exceeded 21C in many places across Kent and East Anglia on the 5th, due to a combination of sunshine and a very warm SW airflow originating south of the Azores. 21.1C at London, Chelmsford, and Cambridge mark the record highest November temperatures for England. 20C was reported as far north as Doncaster and as far west as Colwyn Bay. This is one of two November days this century that exceeded 70F (see also 1946); this is the later of the two. In Scotland it was the second wettest of the century. It was extremely wet in Glasgow. There was a notable storm on the 23rd: severe gales in the south, and a gust of 109 mph at Pembroke. The 25th was the wettest day of the year in London, where 40 mm of rain fell at Wimbledon.

December. A very mild beginning and end, with notable snowy cold spell around Christmas. In the first half of the month temperatures around 10 and 13C were common, and the nights were largely frost-free. Although a change was forecast, the magnitude of the change was not. On the 17th, as high pressure built to the north of Scotland, cold air came in on easterlies. Consider these midday readings from Kent: on the 16th, 12C; 17th, 0C; 18th, -3C; 19th, -5, 20th, -6. Snow fell daily from the 18th to the 26th. The 20th was the coldest day. There was particularly heavy snowfall on the 20-22 December, resulting in a snowy Christmas: the best White Christmas of the century (along with 1981, where also more than half of the country had snow cover on Christmas Day). Over 30 cm fell in the east, and up to 60 cm in the west. There was skiing on the Chilterns. You can't beat easterly winds can you in winter, can you? The temperature remained freezing from the 18th to the 26th at Lympne (Kent), with a maximum of only -5.6C on the the 20th, and a maximum of -3 widespread across the country. -15.6C was recorded at Braemar on the 22nd. The snow started on the 19th in the southeast, and was widespread and heavy 20-21, causing much disruption. More, dry, snow on Boxing Day; the cover was a foot deep across the south. A thaw set in on the 27th as mild air pushed away the continental air.


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