May was one of coldest, windiest and wettest on record

A tree falls on the towpath of the Lancaster Canal after heavy winds.
A tree falls on the towpath of the Lancaster Canal after heavy winds.
  • Rainfall was double national average for May in Lancaster
  • Weather has been “stuck in a rut” due to jet stream and cold air from the Atlantic
  • 1997 and 1979 were wettest on record at Lancaster University’s weather centre
  • Bad weather follows sunniest April on record

It’s safe to say the month of May has been a complete washout in Lancaster.

With double the average rainfall, persistent wind and some of the coldest temeperatures on record - our gardens have taken a battering, the heating has remained on, and many have decided to stay indoors rather than brave the wintry conditions.

In contrast to April, which UK wide was the sunniest on record, May was the third wettest, third coldest (by day) and joint third windiest since records began at Lancaster University’s Hazelrigg weather centre in 1966.

James Heath, Hazelrigg Met Observer, said: “May hasn’t quite broken our records, though it’s been very close. It will be interesting to see what the Met Office’s figures show nationally. But as well as comparing it to previous Mays, I think it’s worth mentioning the contrasts with April.

“April was dominated by lots of fine anticyclonic weather and UK-wide was the sunniest on record.

“So unsurprisingly, our figures show that rainfall was down 18 per cent on the average (1974-2014), there was 24 per cent less wind, and daytime maximum temperatures were up 0.8 degrees C.

“In contrast the weather in May seems to have been ‘stuck in a rut’ with the jet stream steering low pressure systems over the UK (hence all the rain and wind) and a persistent supply of cold air from the North West - that strong temperature contrast over the North Atlantic helping to strengthen the jet stream and the intensity of the low pressure systems.”

May in Lancaster saw nearly double the average rainfall and was just 3.5mm short of the wettest (1997), and 2.6mm short of the second wettest in 1979.

James said: “The difference was that in 1997 the last 11 days were completely dry, a third of the total fell in just one day of thundery rain, and another third in four days early in the month. So it was far less ‘stuck in a rut’.

“Daytime maximum temperatures were down 2.1 degrees C on the average, with only May 1979 significantly lower (and 1996 marginally lower).

“There was 28 per cent more wind than average. If you look at the figures for the whole month, again it is the persistence that is notable – no calm periods at all. But in total, 2011 was about equal, 1993 slightly more windy, though only 1986 significantly more so.

“Sunshine was down 28 per cent on average.”