August was wet and cool for holidaymakers - and wet for farmers still trying to finish the grain harvest
August did not live up to its image as a summer month. With both temperature and sunshine below average and rainfall above, it has been a poor month for holidaymakers and for farmers.
The mean temperature in Marlborough was 0.9C below the 31-year average since my records began - making it the second coolest August since 1993. But it was not as bad as 2014, which was even cooler. Whilst the mean night temperature was 0.6C below average, the daytime maximum showed an even greater variation at 1.3C below the 31-year mean.
There were only 13 totally dry days during the month. The wettest day occurred on August 19 with 13.4mm but later in the month we had two further days with double-digit precipitation (10.0mm and 12.2mm).
With so many wet days I have sympathy with Thomas Gainsborough, the artist, who when staying in Bath during August 1768 wrote: “Lord, what can one do such Weather as this, continual Rains. My Genius is so dampt by it that I can do nothing to please me.”
Over the past 31 years there have been wide variations in rainfall for August, this year the total was 83.1mm. In 1992 I recorded a total of 139.5mm, but three years later in 1995 August was very dry with only 5.3mm falling over the 31 days.
The Meteorological Office classes a ‘wet day’ as one with at least 1mm of precipitation. There were 11 ‘wet’ days in August 2015 and interestingly the trend over the past 31 years has been slowly upward, August gaining an additional two ’wet’ days since the late 1980’s.
The River Kennet has not shown much increase in depth or flow after the above average rainfall for August, but looking at the total rainfall for the past eight months of this year I note that it is 38mm below the 31-year average.
Solar energy was, not surprisingly, down on the average with just 91 per cent compared with the last six years. The total number of hours of strong sunshine was also low with 76 hours whereas in August last year we enjoyed 100 hours.
The past three months of summer have been disappointing with the mean temperature 0.5C below the 31-year average. However, it was not as bad as the record, very cool summer of 1985 when the mean temperature was 1.8C below the average.
The total rainfall for the summer months was 196mm. This makes it the wettest summer for four years and 13mm above the 31-year average. It is interesting to compare this with the very wet summer of 2012, which brought 328mm. However, the extreme for summer rainfall, or rather the lack of it, was in 1995 when just 53mm of rainfall was recorded for the three months.
I have only had a sunshine recorder for two years and find that in 2014 we had 424 hours of strong sunshine for June, July and August, but there were only 358 hours during this year's summer months.