Village Met Office monitor confirms ‘wettest ever December’

Muriel Lord on Long Fell
Muriel Lord on Long Fell

As areas of the locality continued to recover from the severe flooding which hit on Boxing Day, voluntary rainfall recorder for the Met Office, Muriel Lord, who takes readings at Chipping, says December 2015 will go down in history as the wettest month in almost half a century.

“Record totals of rain fell in both November - 327.1mm (approx 12.7in) and December 399.1mm (approx 15.7in),” said Mrs Lord. “December was the wettest month recorded since readings started here in September 1968. The previous record was October 2000 with 393.4mm.”

Graph showing rainfall in Chipping in 2015 from Muriel Lord, the local Met Office measure taker

Graph showing rainfall in Chipping in 2015 from Muriel Lord, the local Met Office measure taker

She says three named powerful storms affected the region in December.

“Storm Desmond brought a few days of very wet weather. On the fourth and fifth it gave us a total of 97.7mm (approx 3.8in) and another 36.1mm on the tenth. Areas around 
St Michaels and northwards into Cumbria had even heavier rain and damaging floods.

“Storm Eva arrived at Christmas, bringing us a total of 87.5mm (approx 3.4in) on the 25th and 26th. The Ribble Valley and the Pennine catchments across to Yorkshire had serious extensive floods.

“Storm Frank at the end of the month gave us a glancing blow and had its rain impact in southern Scotland,” said Mrs Lord, adding: “There were, however, other notable weather events earlier in 2015.

Graph showing rainfall in Chipping in 2015 from Muriel Lord, the local Met Office measure taker

Graph showing rainfall in Chipping in 2015 from Muriel Lord, the local Met Office measure taker

“Winter was never very cold, though often cloudy and gloomy. There were several days in late January and early February when thin patchy snow lingered. Lowest temperatures came in that period, falling to minus 2.8C (27F) overnight February 3 and 4.

“Spring was slow and erratic. A burst of warmth came mid-April, temperatures reaching 19.3C (66.7F) on the 24th. Then overnight 26-27 there was a late frost and the rest of April and much of May were often chilly and wet.

“In June and July, warmer weather arrived at last, but with no proper heatwave. There were only two hot days, June 30 28.8C (83.8F) and July 1 29.2C (84.6F). Thereafter, temperatures fell and the second half of July and August became wetter.

“The autumn, however, brought remarkably dry, calm and sunny weather. Warmth lingered throughout. Temperatures still reached 15C (59F) at the end of October. The very mild temperatures continued to the end of the year, with record overnight temperatures for December reached between December 17 and 19, 10C (50F). Some summer plants still flowered in December and grass has grown lush.

Ribchester after the River Ribble burst its banks in the early hours on Boxing Day

Ribchester after the River Ribble burst its banks in the early hours on Boxing Day

“Only two nights had a touch of a ground frost, November 21 and 22 and very late on New Year’s Eve.”

She says, unusually, the autumn rains never arrived. September had only 46.4mm and October 80.6mm. However, this dry spell ended on November 3 and since then there have only been three dry days.

“After all the deluges in the last two months, the rain for 2015 totalled 1734.8 mm (68.3ins approx) the seventh wettest year since 1969,” said Mrs Lord adding: “Now nine of the wettest years have occurred since 2000. The wettest of all was 2012 with 1984.0mm.”

Soldiers in Ribchester assisting the emergency services as flood waters poured through the streets

Soldiers in Ribchester assisting the emergency services as flood waters poured through the streets