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The summer of 1954

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  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

The Manchester summer index says this is the worst summer for the city since at least 1900 with an index of 143.

The summer of 1954 was a very poor summer with frequent rains, very cool and little sunshine. Its the dullest summer in the Areal series with a paltry 395.9hrs and the dullest August in that series. It had a CET of 14.1 and a rainfall total of 306.7mm for England and Wales.


CET: 13.4

Sun: 140.9hrs

Rain: 94.2mm


CET: 14.2

Sun: 131.0hrs

Rain: 88.8mm


CET: 14.6

Sun: 124.0hrs

Rain: 123.7mm




They were very few warm days during this summer, the warmest day of the year actually occurred at the start of the meteorological autumn (1st September)


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  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.
  • Weather Preferences: Anything extreme
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District. 290 mts a.s.l.

I've just had a look through the record at Buxton, just up the road from me, and 1954 certainly ranks among the

'worst' for a combination of cool, wet and cloud.


Mean temp'....11.4c


Sunshine.......121.3 hrs


Mean temp'....11.9c


Sunshine.........91.2 hrs


Mean temp'......12.5c



It was the dullest summer since 1888, which was the dullest on record with 278.8 hrs sunshine.July was the coolest since 1922 which had a mean of 10.2c and August was the dullest since 1912 which had 93.2 hrs sun.

There was a notable run of cool Julys around 1920; 1919 had a mean of 11.7c, 1920 had 11.9c and 1922 had 10.2c.

1921 was a major departure as it was dry, sunny and warm .


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  • 2 years later...
  • Location: Irlam
  • Location: Irlam

A meeting was held on the 20th of October 1954 at the Met Office in Harrow to discuss just how bad the summer of 1954 was. Gordon Manley and H H Lamb attended the meeting.

Here is a summary of the meeting.

England and Wales

Rainfall: 3.1 inches above the 1881-1915 average

Temp: 2.5F below the 1921-50 average

Mean daily sunshine: 1.7hrs below the 1921-50 average.

53 rain days

40 wet days

At the time, it was a continuing trend of cooler wetter summers.

In most European countries, July was the coolest month and August, the wettest. Russia was warmer than normal in all 3 summer months.

Pressure gradient was stronger than normal with Greenland/Scandinavia regio up 15mb below and Azores, 6mb above. June was a westerly month for the British Isles, July was a NWly, while August was below average pressure for the whole of Europe and the north Atlantic.

Two synoptic types predominant during the summer

A ridge in the 1000-500mb thickness pattern over the Atlantic and a trough over or near the british Isles, with depressions approaching the British Isles from the NW. This type was particularly persistent near the end of June and the beginning of July.

A very large trough in the 1000-500mb thickness pattern over the atlantic with Great Britain on its forward edge and with depressions approaching the British Isles from the SW. This type occurred about the beginning of the June but more especially at the end of July and during the first half of August.

West Africa was 2-4F below normal and 50% wetter. Depressions were on average over north Africa about 2mb deeper than normal.

In south Africa, the winter was cooler, wetter than normal.

In the US, it was warmer and drier than normal.

The Indian monsoon was heavier than normal.

From Gordon Manley

"Among comparable summers in the past, I was rather suprised not to hear more of 1922 which was persistently cool, dull and breezy -- in German parlance one of "vigorous European monsoon". To many southerners the noticeable feature of 1954 was the unusually cool breeziness, normally appropriate to our northern uplands. So far as my reduction of older records was valid I have taken out the rough data, which showed that 24 summers in the last 256 could be called consistently cool, the criterion being all 3 months 2F or more below overall average; that is about 1 in 10. 1954 ranked about 14th, and was thus not exceptionally unusual; what was unusual was the lapse of 32 years since the last cool summer. Both 1922 and 1902 were cooler, but with regard to the majority of such cool summers if the overall mean is compared with the 30 surrounding years the deficit rarely exceeds that of 1954, namely 2.6F. Only 3 significantly greater deficits occurred (1860, 1816 and 1725) of which the last two were associated with noteworthy ash eruptions. It would therefore appear that 1954 represents about as large a strain of the earth's circulation as we should fairly expect, in the absence of some additional factor such as violent eruptions."

Edited by Mr_Data
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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
A lack-lustre summer with below-average TEMPERATURES. Using the CET series, the two months July and August had anomalies some 1.8 & 1.1C below LTA. Of the three 'standard' summer months, July was the COLDEST (and WETTEST). Two of weekends in that month in the south had RAINFALL of 40mm or more in 24hr. A marked lack of SUNSHINE, with just 80h at Aber (North Wales), and 86h at Aldergrove (Belfast). The summer was dominated by westerly winds (succession of depressions). This is thought by many to have been the worst summer in the second half of the 20th century taking the country as a whole, and specifically, looking at the southeast of England/London, probably the worst using a combination of DULL skies & low TEMPERATURES in the entire century.


I only have acess to complete year figures for Eastbourne for 1954 but they show the second worst yearly sunshine hours total (only just eclipsed by 1981) with only 1661.5 hours compared to a 1950 - 2006 average of 1848.5 hours. There were only 4.6 hours of daily sunshine in 1954 compared to the average over the 1950 - 2006 period of 5.9 hours.

On 30 June of this year, visible from all over Britain, there was a near-total eclipse of the sun. The skies darkened, and the sun disappeared. As an event it was largely superfluous since the clouds had been blotting out the sun nearly all month, and would continue doing so for the rest of the summer – easily the most depressing one of the second half of the century. There was rain, especially in August, but mostly this summer was drab and grey. At Tynemouth in August, there was no sun whatsoever between the 16th and 24th. After all this, it was no surprise that September couldn't rouse itself to any sustained fine weather, and so Britain slipped seamlessly into the chill of autumn. Indeed, the only cheering thing about this summer was that on 4 July rationing came to an end in Britain after 14 very long years.


Extract from the Directors' Report Cosens & Company Ltd, Weymouth dated 28th February 1955

The weather during the 1954 Season was almost the worst on record. Weather experts tell us it was the wettest Season since 1946, the coldest since 1920 and the least amount of sunshine since 1912. So far as the Company are concerned there were 13 blank days at Bournemouth and 49 trips had to be cancelled, whilst at Weymouth there were 8 blank days, 71 trips to Lulworth Cove had to be cancelled, and there were 14 days when no work could be carried out on the Weymouth beach. These were adverse factors which could not have been foreseen and, of course, seriously affected the Revenue from Excursion Services


June 1954 also saw the odd phenomenon of 'frog rain' in Sutton Coldfield. Baby frogs, no bigger than a thumbnail, were said to have fallen from the sky during a heavy rain shower. The downpour lasted for around five minutes, depositing thousands of the amphibians!

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