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August 1981


Summer8906
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Posted
  • Location: Hampshire
  • Weather Preferences: Bright weather. Warm sunny thundery summers, short cold winters.
  • Location: Hampshire

     

    Does anyone remember this one? For me, a classic summer month of my childhood with the fine weather extraordinarily well timed for the school holidays.

    June and July 1981 had been nothing special, if I remember right - indeed, so non-descript that I remember almost nothing about them. Most memorable thing was a 2-week trip to France in June: in the UK, from what I have seen of old weather charts, it was generally cool and cloudy with winds between north and west throughout those two months.

    But things improved just before the royal wedding (July 29). Can't remember the exact date of changeover, but I think it was the weekend of the 25th/26th; the 23rd was wet, we did a school trip to the Tower of London that day.

    An initial anticyclonic period in late July was followed by a minor thundery breakdown at the end of the month, followed by a quick re-build of the high and fine sunny weather at the start of August. Then followed perhaps the most dramatic day of the month on August 6th, whereupon a thundery low drifted in and severe and very loud thunderstorms arrived during the morning. Apparently this caused 'day-darkness' in London, though not where I was in Sussex. I do recall some dramatic cloud formations as these storms passed over.

    This was followed by about three dull, gloomy days - often seems to happen that big thunderstorms are followed by a long gloomy spell - with the thundery low drifting off to the east. Then, a rebuild of pressure and from what I remember, prolonged fine weather throughout the rest of the month with fairly moderate temps, rather like August 1991 also mentioned on this forum. I remember a brief cool, cloudy plunge just after mid-month and a further attempt by a thundery low to move in towards the month's end (remember seeing the cloud associated with it to the SW) but it failed to move in this time.

    Then September started fine also, and remained so until the 9th - also seem to remember it being quite hot by then. The final breakdown came on September 10th with a cold front from the west, which brought rain in the evening, though not thundery. Thereafter, three days of classic showery Pm weather on the 11th-13th (I still today remember 'showers from the word go' being in the forecast on the 11th) before a prolonged dull and wet period through the rest of September, and October. Then "that" December, but that is really going OT...

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    Posted
  • Location: London
  • Location: London
    18 minutes ago, Summer8906 said:

     

    Does anyone remember this one? For me, a classic summer month of my childhood with the fine weather extraordinarily well timed for the school holidays.

    June and July 1981 had been nothing special, if I remember right - indeed, so non-descript that I remember almost nothing about them. Most memorable thing was a 2-week trip to France in June: in the UK, from what I have seen of old weather charts, it was generally cool and cloudy with winds between north and west throughout those two months.

    But things improved just before the royal wedding (July 29). Can't remember the exact date of changeover, but I think it was the weekend of the 25th/26th; the 23rd was wet, we did a school trip to the Tower of London that day.

    An initial anticyclonic period in late July was followed by a minor thundery breakdown at the end of the month, followed by a quick re-build of the high and fine sunny weather at the start of August. Then followed perhaps the most dramatic day of the month on August 6th, whereupon a thundery low drifted in and severe and very loud thunderstorms arrived during the morning. Apparently this caused 'day-darkness' in London, though not where I was in Sussex. I do recall some dramatic cloud formations as these storms passed over.

    This was followed by about three dull, gloomy days - often seems to happen that big thunderstorms are followed by a long gloomy spell - with the thundery low drifting off to the east. Then, a rebuild of pressure and from what I remember, prolonged fine weather throughout the rest of the month with fairly moderate temps, rather like August 1991 also mentioned on this forum. I remember a brief cool, cloudy plunge just after mid-month and a further attempt by a thundery low to move in towards the month's end (remember seeing the cloud associated with it to the SW) but it failed to move in this time.

    Then September started fine also, and remained so until the 9th - also seem to remember it being quite hot by then. The final breakdown came on September 10th with a cold front from the west, which brought rain in the evening, though not thundery. Thereafter, three days of classic showery Pm weather on the 11th-13th (I still today remember 'showers from the word go' being in the forecast on the 11th) before a prolonged dull and wet period through the rest of September, and October. Then "that" December, but that is really going OT...

    I was only 5 at the time, but I do have memories of that 1981 storm. Just remember my mum was childminding at the time, and we were sitting in the living room, middle of the morning and pitch black darkness like midnight.

    The memory has never left me.

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    Posted
  • Location: Hampshire
  • Weather Preferences: Bright weather. Warm sunny thundery summers, short cold winters.
  • Location: Hampshire
    2 hours ago, Sunny76 said:

    I was only 5 at the time, but I do have memories of that 1981 storm. Just remember my mum was childminding at the time, and we were sitting in the living room, middle of the morning and pitch black darkness like midnight.

    The memory has never left me.

    (EDIT: Sorry I've just seen there is another thread on the storms. Even still this thread is about the month as a whole, and its warm sunny weather - rather than the storms specifically).

    Must have been quite an experience! Closest I got to day-darkness was one day in very early December 2009, 2nd or 3rd I think, before the cold kicked in, when it was dark enough to turn the streetlights on at 2pm, but not fully dark - more like twilight. Quite unnerving... obviously December is pretty dark in any case, but even still, the light level was more like 4-4.30pm in December than 2pm. Was some sort of unstable rPm airmass with embedded troughs if I remember right; basically a continuation of the exceedingly wet November. Thankfully the pattern changed a few days later!

    Back to Aug 81, and I recall the mid-day forecast on the TV showing a map of Southern England with a large area marked "THUNDERSTORMS" and a tiny area of east Kent "SUNNY". Looks like for whatever reason the storms missed East Kent - maybe they travelled NNE across most of southern England with a track that would have missed that area.

    Edited by Summer8906
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    Posted
  • Location: London
  • Location: London
    1 hour ago, Summer8906 said:

    (EDIT: Sorry I've just seen there is another thread on the storms. Even still this thread is about the month as a whole, and its warm sunny weather - rather than the storms specifically).

    Must have been quite an experience! Closest I got to day-darkness was one day in very early December 2009, 2nd or 3rd I think, before the cold kicked in, when it was dark enough to turn the streetlights on at 2pm, but not fully dark - more like twilight. Quite unnerving... obviously December is pretty dark in any case, but even still, the light level was more like 4-4.30pm in December than 2pm. Was some sort of unstable rPm airmass with embedded troughs if I remember right; basically a continuation of the exceedingly wet November. Thankfully the pattern changed a few days later!

    Back to Aug 81, and I recall the mid-day forecast on the TV showing a map of Southern England with a large area marked "THUNDERSTORMS" and a tiny area of east Kent "SUNNY". Looks like for whatever reason the storms missed East Kent - maybe they travelled NNE across most of southern England with a track that would have missed that area.

    Is there a satellite picture of the day. I recall some years ago seeing one where it looks like a large tear drop covering Northern France towards London.

    I just remember sitting in the living room with the lights on, and the thunderstorm going on for what felt like hours. It had a real end of the world type- feel to it. I don't remember looking at the clouds, so I wasn't aware the cause of the pitch black darkness came from the actual storm itself. 

    The flights must have been terrifying for passengers coming into Heathrow or Gatwick. This is what causes the severe turbulence on most flights.

    And to add, a similar event happened during the Euro 2012 match between Ukraine and France. The game was postponed for an hour or so, because of a violent thunderstorm, which made everything turn to night.

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    Posted
  • Location: London
  • Location: London
    1 hour ago, Summer8906 said:

    (EDIT: Sorry I've just seen there is another thread on the storms. Even still this thread is about the month as a whole, and its warm sunny weather - rather than the storms specifically).

    Must have been quite an experience! Closest I got to day-darkness was one day in very early December 2009, 2nd or 3rd I think, before the cold kicked in, when it was dark enough to turn the streetlights on at 2pm, but not fully dark - more like twilight. Quite unnerving... obviously December is pretty dark in any case, but even still, the light level was more like 4-4.30pm in December than 2pm. Was some sort of unstable rPm airmass with embedded troughs if I remember right; basically a continuation of the exceedingly wet November. Thankfully the pattern changed a few days later!

    Back to Aug 81, and I recall the mid-day forecast on the TV showing a map of Southern England with a large area marked "THUNDERSTORMS" and a tiny area of east Kent "SUNNY". Looks like for whatever reason the storms missed East Kent - maybe they travelled NNE across most of southern England with a track that would have missed that area.

    To see those storms on the horizon, must have been something lol.

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    Posted
  • Location: halifax 125m
  • Weather Preferences: extremes the unusual and interesting facts
  • Location: halifax 125m

    I have heard many times people talking about this summer as almost one to forget but although i was barely into my teens i had good memories of the weather back then.My grandparents had a farm and unlike most years these days we used to make hay in July,this year was no exception and we managed to finish our last field of hay on the Royal wedding day which was hot and sunny,i think the 29th July.Not so many days later a neighbour needed help clearing a large block of land which we once again helped in lovely warm sunny weather in early August and spent a few days making a huge stack at the top of the fields.There were one or two thundery spells about but not like what they had in the south  but the good weather continued for much of the month of August.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire
    20 hours ago, Sunny76 said:

    To see those storms on the horizon, must have been something lol.

    I remember approaching my office at Hinchley Wood near Surbiton in Surrey at 8am and seeing what looked like a wall of smoke ahead on the (then) new A3 Esher by-pass. I was aware of the forecasts and got to the office just before the heavens opened, but some of my colleagues were not so lucky. There were two distinct cells, the one at 8am and the other nearer midday, and this photo shows the Royal Oak Centre, between Purley and South Croydon at midday. Surprisingly the greatest rainfall that day was not in the South East but at Tarporley in Cheshire and Daventry in Northants - 132mm at each.

    coulsdon flood 1981 4.jpg

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    Posted
  • Location: Hampshire
  • Weather Preferences: Bright weather. Warm sunny thundery summers, short cold winters.
  • Location: Hampshire

    Another thing about August 1981 is that I think it was the first decent August since 1976. This must have impacted on people's memory: I am not quite old enough to remember summer 1976 (it occurred before I was 5) so Aug 1981 would have been the first good August I remember - hence why it is quite special to me.

    Good Augusts were fairly common in the coming years, occurring also in 1983, 1984, then a bit of a gap before resuming in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1995, parts of 1996, 1997, and 1998 (another forgotten one and like 1981 a vast improvement on the months preceding it).

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    Posted
  • Location: Hampshire
  • Weather Preferences: Bright weather. Warm sunny thundery summers, short cold winters.
  • Location: Hampshire
    38 minutes ago, A Face like Thunder said:

    August 1985 was I recall a bit of a weather disaster, and Philip Eden refers to a 'poor summer' overall, which was perhaps putting it mildly, with any real summer coming late in the day.

    Indeed, constant Atlantic zonality if I remember right, though I also seem to remember some sunny days due to proper ridges of high pressure, which are less frequent in unsettled summers nowadays. More westerly than cyclonic, I think. Very cool though, I think we had just one day (!) with the temperature into the mid-twenties, and many below 20.

    June 1985 was, apart from the first few days, very cool, wet and cyclonic. Sheer good luck caused a break in the bad weather to occur over the weekend of the 15th/16th, and the weather settled down on the 29th, so three usable weekends out of five.

    I think July 1985 was average or slightly above though, with the first two weeks (up to and including Live Aid) predominantly hot and sunny, then an unsettled week, then a shorter hot spell for three days in the fourth week before a promised thundery breakdown which gave nothing (where I was in Sussex anyway).

    Thankfully that year was a classic example of 'bad summer, good autumn' (see also: 2007)

    Edited by Summer8906
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