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What Has Happend To Our Storms?


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Posted
  • Location: Didcot - Oxfordshire,UK
  • Location: Didcot - Oxfordshire,UK

    Over the past few years I have noticed a trend in thunderstorms dissapearing, a few years ago we used to get quite regular thunderstorms in summer time. But where has our summer gone? We get one week of intense heat 31oC and thats it back to autum. I remember when our thunderstorms used to get really bad in summer time but now all we get is heavy rain. :)

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    Posted
  • Location: Godalming, Surrey
  • Location: Godalming, Surrey

    There has been a lot of stuff on this before and it often leads to arguments and things, so hoping to avoid that but some 'facts' here.

    Thunderstorms have decreased in frequency since about 20 years ago, but only by about a third.

    The last few years have been below average for many regions, but not by a huge amount.

    This is all within the normal spectrum of climate variation.

    For example, it is widely accepted that we are currently in a period of heightened atlantic hurricane activity.

    However, there are some issues with regard to the detail and availability of data, often thunder days are measured which does not measure the intensity of thunderstorms.

    The Met Office monthly summaries have lightning strike data, they are free and on their website, if you compare it to, say, a few years ago, you will see the differences are not huge and that the occurence of thunderstorms is very variable anyway, so averages are limited in their usefulness.

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    Posted
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.

    I would like to see the lightning maps for the 1980`s if theres any.

    Summer 1988 was probably just a guess one of the most thunder free summers ever,with relentless atlantic cold westerlies.

    I don`t remember any thunder that year,1987 wasn`t much better,can only remember 1 afternoon.

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashbourne,County Meath,about 6 miles northwest of dublin airport. 74m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Cold weather - frost or snow
  • Location: Ashbourne,County Meath,about 6 miles northwest of dublin airport. 74m ASL

    We had alot of thunder one night last week here,the most i can remember for a long time. The last time we had alot i think was Aug 2000 and before that Aug 1997 i think. The best thunderstorms i remember as a kid were in late June 1986.

    But our weather does seem to be getting more boring,less thunderstorms in summer,less snow in winter :whistling:

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    Posted
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.

    It was the late 80`s thunderstorms were at there weakest of the 80`s,with 1989 a hot very dry summer(scorched grass) although that year may of gave thunderstorms,it rings a bell,but I can`t remember.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
    Give it time and you may get Thundery Wintery Showers coming on this thread giving you a lecture about 'Selective Memory' and how things haven't changed at all, it's just us :whistling: Oh please, give me a break. Our climate is changing and our day to day weather is also changing as a consequence.

    Err hello, I have actually posted quite a few times about a decline in thunder activity across Britain since the 1980s, which for example showed up clearly in Philip Eden's book "A Change in the Weather" when summer months over England & Wales declined from 3-4 days/month to about 2 days/month.

    If you're comparing with sometime after the 1980s then it depends on where the starting point is. I think thunder frequency did recover a bit around the mid-1990s and more especially around 1999, and the 2000s had a one-off thundery year in 2004.

    As for the past four summers, taking Britain as a whole, I think 2005 was slightly below average (mainly due to a largely thunderless July), 2006 near average, 2007 near average, and with 2008 rather below average.

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    Posted
  • Location: Bexley (home), C London (work)
  • Weather Preferences: Thunderstorms
  • Location: Bexley (home), C London (work)

    This year I think has been back on average to what I remember growing up - v late 80s and 90s. So far we've had 8 thunder days, with around 15 thunder events here locally in the SE. On two days, we had 4 thunderstorms, which were the days I remember having each summer growing up!

    2006, 2007 and 2008 were very bad years here for storm activity, each year getting progressively worse (not to say we didnt have some very notable events).

    2009 so far this year has been very up and down, with strangely not ONE thunder day in May - which is very unusual!

    The biggest and most terrifying storms years ago were always July and August, more so early August time - more heat though, naturally :) So as we now approach the half way line for July, lets hope July/August 2009 brings some corkers :D

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    Posted
  • Location: Godalming, Surrey
  • Location: Godalming, Surrey
    This year I think has been back on average to what I remember growing up - v late 80s and 90s. So far we've had 8 thunder days, with around 15 thunder events here locally in the SE. On two days, we had 4 thunderstorms, which were the days I remember having each summer growing up!

    2006, 2007 and 2008 were very bad years here for storm activity, each year getting progressively worse (not to say we didnt have some very notable events).

    2009 so far this year has been very up and down, with strangely not ONE thunder day in May - which is very unusual!

    The biggest and most terrifying storms years ago were always July and August, more so early August time - more heat though, naturally :) So as we now approach the half way line for July, lets hope July/August 2009 brings some corkers :D

    Glad you have done well this year after a few poor years. :) I think your points really illustrate the natural fluctuation of thunderstorm activity. Even on a regional scale, for example last year for me was alright, while this year has been terrible, with just one poor/average storm overhead so far, and that was in Exeter, had I been in Bath all year, I wouldn't even have had that. So we have been the opposite over the last two years so far.

    As you say though July/August are normally the best months so hopefully they will produce the goods.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    2006 of course had that phenomenal July which as well as being hot and sunny also had above average thundery activity across much of the country. Although I recall activity for June, particularly the second half, being rather below average, and I don't think there were too many about during August either. I imagine that those places that missed out on July's thunderstorms would've had a poor summer for storms.

    Yes it would be good to see thunder maps from the 1980s. The statistics certainly support the notion that there were more in the way of notably thundery months back then, in particular June 1982 and May 1983 are often mentioned and an often-neglected one is June 1980, which had storms break out daily on a wide scale from 22nd-26th, via what looked like a fairly ordinary sunshine-and-showers setup (plus there were also Spanish plumes early in the same month). I've also seen 1981 mentioned as being a thundery year in many places.

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    Posted
  • Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Weather Preferences: Thunderstorms and heat, North Sea snow
  • Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    This month has been exceptional for the Northeast so far, 2 storms which I would call severe! (1st + 6th), and weak ones on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th. On top of that, this week looks like it could hold some more. :lol:

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    Posted
  • Location: Beccles, Suffolk.
  • Weather Preferences: Thunder, snow, heat, sunshine...
  • Location: Beccles, Suffolk.

    I don't know what's happened to ours, but my beautiful friend in Riga has just told me that there was 'crash, bang, wallop' on the Baltic yesterday!! :lol:

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    Posted
  • Location: Belper, Derbyshire
  • Weather Preferences: Hot, humid & exciting
  • Location: Belper, Derbyshire

    As someone has said above, the decline in thundery activity can be explained by natural climate variability and I think we would need to see a much longer record of thunder days to determine if there is a trend or if this is just normal fluctuation.

    This post has reminded me about something I learned almost by accident while doing some research for a paper. I was looking into the spike in deaths recorded in many parish records associated with the last real super eruption, that of the Laki fissure volcano in Iceland. Many of the deaths were related to A, increased particulate matter and sulperous gasses in the atmosphere causing respiritory problems and B, Exceptionally hot summers occuring as a result of the greenhouse effect of the gasses from the eruption. These two products of the eruption resulted not only in the spike in deaths, but also in a increase of severe thunderstorms. Infact I was reading accounts from the time that described people running screaming in the streets as they thought the apocalypse had come such were the unprecedented severity of the storms. The newspaper coverage suggested that in the summer of 1783 (July onward) the storms affected most of the country and were unprecedented in their severity and frequency, described in one correspondance as 'unremitting'.

    Although this is an extreme case i think it illustrates that storm frequency / severity is very sensitive and is influenced by more variables than we might expect. I dont know why we seem to be on a negative trend at the moment but im willing to bet that its not permenant!

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    Posted
  • Location: Didcot - Oxfordshire,UK
  • Location: Didcot - Oxfordshire,UK
    As someone has said above, the decline in thundery activity can be explained by natural climate variability and I think we would need to see a much longer record of thunder days to determine if there is a trend or if this is just normal fluctuation.

    This post has reminded me about something I learned almost by accident while doing some research for a paper. I was looking into the spike in deaths recorded in many parish records associated with the last real super eruption, that of the Laki fissure volcano in Iceland. Many of the deaths were related to A, increased particulate matter and sulperous gasses in the atmosphere causing respiritory problems and B, Exceptionally hot summers occuring as a result of the greenhouse effect of the gasses from the eruption. These two products of the eruption resulted not only in the spike in deaths, but also in a increase of severe thunderstorms. Infact I was reading accounts from the time that described people running screaming in the streets as they thought the apocalypse had come such were the unprecedented severity of the storms. The newspaper coverage suggested that in the summer of 1783 (July onward) the storms affected most of the country and were unprecedented in their severity and frequency, described in one correspondance as 'unremitting'.

    Although this is an extreme case i think it illustrates that storm frequency / severity is very sensitive and is influenced by more variables than we might expect. I dont know why we seem to be on a negative trend at the moment but im willing to bet that its not permenant!

    This is, one of the better explanations ive have herd in a long while:)

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    Posted
  • Location: Sandown Isle of wight
  • Location: Sandown Isle of wight

    for me i think 2006 was brilliant especially 2nd half july,

    though 07 had a few but not that godd and only saw one proper decent storm in 08 which was in september.

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    Posted
  • Location: LANCS. 12 miles NE of Preston at the SW corner of the Bowland Fells. 550ft, 170m approx.
  • Location: LANCS. 12 miles NE of Preston at the SW corner of the Bowland Fells. 550ft, 170m approx.

    A very interesting post JOEY.

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    Posted
  • Location: Paignton, Devon
  • Location: Paignton, Devon

    Having only lived down here for nearly 7 years i can't go back that far in regards to thunder activity here, but i can say, the years 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and this year were pretty quiet for storms. Also when i was younger living in Blackpool storms where very far between and we normally only ever got them in the summer and were relatively quite weak, though we did have a few good thumping ones.

    2003 was a very dry year apart from the November, with lots of sunny weather we only had 4 thunderstorms that year.

    2004 was a strange year, warm dry spring and a warm-ish wet summer, again only 4 storms, 3 of which occured in the August.

    2007 & 2008 were very similar, very boaring dull weather with both years having only 4. Last year only May and June had storms.

    However 2005/06 were brilliant years, the most thunderest i've ever known.

    Though 2005 was mainly due to the two exceptional spanish plumes in very warm late June, but every storm that year i would class as being violent with the most intense rainfall and lightning i've seen. June 24th brung 6 storms in a row which was increadible, each one almost identical with very frequent lightning and deluge like downpours one of them dropped nearly 30mm in as many minutes not to mention the March 23rd.

    We had a total of 12 storms that year.

    2006 was the most exceptional despite having a 9 month gap from 2005, we had a storm every month for 6 months straight starting from June and again nearly every one was violent especailly the ones on June 12th and October 10th, which included very vivid lightning displays and the most loudest thunder and torriential downpours. We had two storms in August, September and 3 in October, with one in each of the other months from June brining a total of 11 storms that year.

    I'm puzzled as to why 2004 wasnt included with 2005/06 as it was generally more unsettled but still warm. I think the cooler sea temperatures and the lack of southerly winds have been the main reason the last two years havn't been very good here.

    Like many others have said i think we're just going through a quiet phase, which could possibly be due to it being persistantly warm and there not being many frequent shots of cooler air, like past typical british summer used to be like. With the last two being to frequently cool. (sorry for waffling)

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    Posted
  • Location: Home near Sellindge, 80m/250feet, 5miles from Coast
  • Weather Preferences: Severe Storms and Snow
  • Location: Home near Sellindge, 80m/250feet, 5miles from Coast

    It's because we stole them! muaha :)

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    Posted
  • Location: Guildford, Surrey.
  • Weather Preferences: Thunderstorms & Snow
  • Location: Guildford, Surrey.

    As promised about a month ago, I would do research into the amount of thunder experienced in the FLEET, HANTS and GUILDFORD, SURREY areas, to see how much of a decline there has been. The data is the number of days of thunder heard over a defined period and is not an indication of the number of individual thunder events in a day.

    Data for Fleet goes back to 1983, which was an impressive year for thunderstorms whereas Guildford data is from 1997. I have used a 25 year mean for the Fleet data and 10 year mean for the shorter sampling period at Guildford.

    Days of thunder per month at GUILDFORD, 1997 to present.

    post-7417-12481978355865_thumb.jpg

    Days of thunder per month at FLEET, 1983 to present.

    post-7417-12481978807969_thumb.jpg

    This is not a representation of all locations but there does not seem to be an overall decrease in thunder as conditions have varied throughout the period. At Fleet, 1983 was a very thundery year followed by a disappointing period in 1990 and 1991 then 1997 and 1998 followed by increased activity in 2006. Current conditions are weakening again as seen in the last year.

    There have only been 7 days with thunder from 21st July 2008 to 21st July 2009. This is not the worst period as there were only 6 days between 1st August 2003 and late July 2004.

    The difference of data at Guildford shows how a few miles can make such a difference. Although the sampling period is much smaller than that for Fleet, there seems to be more days of thunder per annum at Guildford than Fleet. The biggest differences were in 1998 (Fleet, 8 days and Guildford, 15 days) and 1999 (Fleet, 13 days and Guildford, 23 days) whereas other years showed less difference such as 2006 (Fleet, 21 days and Guildford, 23 days). Overall the 10 year (1998~2007 mean) was 11.5 days / year at Fleet and 16.3 days / year at Guildford.

    Overall, the best thundery years were 1983, 1999 and 2006. 2000 and 2001 were pretty good too. At Fleet, in the earlier years, 1984 and 1987 were also quite good.

    The worst years were 1990 and 1996 with a paltry 7 days and the 1996~1998 period (especially at Fleet) of being of protracted low activity.

    Like any process in nature, there seems to be a 'boom and bust' pattern where low activity periods are followed by months or even years with increased days of thunder observations. A recent example was the poor end to 2005 and late start in 2006 to be followed by a bumper year.

    I hope this is of interest.

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    Posted
  • Location: Didcot - Oxfordshire,UK
  • Location: Didcot - Oxfordshire,UK

    Thanks some really usefull information here, I just remember as a kid what the storms in the uk used to be like, so heres hoping that our storms return soon.

    It's because we stole them! muaha ;)

    And I cant wait to go ;) to kent too! :rofl:

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    Posted
  • Location: Home near Sellindge, 80m/250feet, 5miles from Coast
  • Weather Preferences: Severe Storms and Snow
  • Location: Home near Sellindge, 80m/250feet, 5miles from Coast

    As promised about a month ago, I would do research into the amount of thunder experienced in the FLEET, HANTS and GUILDFORD, SURREY areas,

    Would you be able to do any research for Canterbury , Herne Bay , Margate?

    :rofl:

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    Posted
  • Location: Crumlin S.E.Wales
  • Location: Crumlin S.E.Wales

    There's only 1 storm that has stuck in my mind, but I'm not sure what year. I was very young, but I can remember sitting up all night with my mam watching, no eletric and lightning hit the big oak tree in front of our house. Was a scary storm that lasted most of the night. It would have been in the 80's, probably mid to late 80's. Like I said I was very young at the time, I was born in 81.

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    Posted
  • Location: Newbury Berkshire
  • Location: Newbury Berkshire

    Thanks to Severe Blizzard for some hard stats and some analysis to back up the point.

    I think peeps need to remember what a small sample size our memories give us with which to compare.

    To answer the topic I don't think anything particular has happened to our storms. For my particular location I have witnessed 1 overhead thunderstorm this year, which is quite poor (there was 1 last Friday, but typically I was out of the country at the time doh!). What I have noticed is that my area has been a good breeding ground this year due to the prevailing wind direction (I say this as an avid radar watcher on potential storm days).. hardly surprising when you live only 40 miles from the coast and the wind is coming from that direction.

    The other observation I have; one that I am sure it has been mentioned on a number of occasions on the convective discussion threads, is that the imported storms have had a tendency to form across the centre of France and then track up the French coastline. We have been lacking the decent 'Spanish Plume' type events where slack low pressure forms in northern Spain and tracks up the Bay of Biscay. These are the events where my area and many other areas do well as they have the strength to cross the English Channel... here is praying for one of those for the storm starved among us!

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    Posted
  • Location: Swindon Wiltshire.
  • Location: Swindon Wiltshire.

    I think 2009 has been the worst year locally for storms, just a couple of flashes last week.I have noticed that there have been quite a few storms around the UK this year but they are just not coming this way!!

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    Posted
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.

    Had 9 days with thunder all last year 10 in 2007.

    12 in 2006 into october.

    Only 7 in 2005.

    But 15 days in 2004 well into october.

    12 days so far this year. :doh:

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