COLUMN: Weather Wise with Gordon Currie

Autumn colours have started to appear.
Autumn colours have started to appear.

Gordon takes a look at the changing season, and gives weather prospects for the week ahead.

There’s meaning in the harvest scene

As evening sun descends

And stubble glow casts light between

The hedgerow’s ragged ends;

A peaceful air of thankfulness

As daylight tasks subside

Becalms the fields of toil and stress,

Fills human hearts with pride!

To sow and grow, and then to reap,

This yearly revolution,

Displays the way our seasons leap

Through Nature’s evolution.

“All is safely gathered in, ‘ere the winter storms begin” . . . . Once again, the hallowed words of the famous harvest thanksgiving hymn creates a strong resonance across the countryside as I write these notes with the approach of what meteorologists have described as the first storm of autumn. It seems almost un-believable to witness how September’s version of the “Old Wives’ Summer “ has been wrenched away beyond our grasp by the gathering disturbances over the North Atlantic.

Actually, September’s early days did typify a very early version of the Old Wives’ Summer, which is normally distinguished by a return of warmer days in what seems to be a final fling of something resembling the characteristics of the former season. The old legend of this particular weather singularity relates to the former times of life in Germany, when the old ladies used to sit outside their cottages doing their knitting while enjoying what was regarded as the final dregs of warmth before the onset of colder days. Today’s modern validity of this depends entirely upon the positioning of high and low pressure patterns over Europe and the British Isles in September. If, by chance we are fortunate enough to experience an extensive area of high pressure stretching from Germany to England, creating a flow of warm southerly or south-easterly winds, then it is quite feasible to experience a few days of late summer sunshine with temperatures returning to the low 70’s F. (21 C. plus).

The subject of these weather patterns and singularities formed the study and extensive research by the acclaimed climatologist, Hubert Lamb in the first half of the20th century. His investigations led to the conclusion that the most anticyclonic day of the year in the British Isles, having the highest frequency of high pressure systems centred over the country was September 10, and the stormiest day of the year with the greatest frequency of low pressure was December 27.

The sudden transformation of weather conditions last weekend created a typical mirror of so many reflections upon this year’s memorable summer season. Glorious sunshine on Saturday proved to be the fore-runner to the approach of sterner Atlantic frontal systems moving across 24 hours later. However, in Saturday’s sunlit calm it was the discerning eye that reaped the greatest reward in what could be observed as the theatrical countryside swan song of the season. Peacock butterflies descended upon the later flowers and dried their dew-soaked wings in the warming sunrays, while plum-drunk wasps idled lazily through the cottage orchard. On this beautiful early autumn day, the colours of the farming landscape were beginning to change almost by the hour as the ploughs and implements for next year’s harvest preparations were enthusiastically transforming the yellows and golds of empty stubble fields into the wholesome brown hues of newly turned earth, - the season’s revolution indeed!

PROSPECTS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

A fairly strong run of North Atlantic Westerlies is likely to persist in the coming week, with the Azores High staying resolutely well to the south-west, with the jet-stream in full strength running well to the north, and steering successive depressions across the Atlantic, passing either over Scotland, or further north. Mainly unsettled and changeable with further spells of rain or showers at times, although there will be advantages of longer dry periods with sunshine at times across the Vale of York. Strong winds will accompany the rain belts, with temperatures fairly close to seasonal normal, 55 – 59 F. ( 13 – 15 C. ). There will be a risk of ground frosts or even slight air frosts on one or two clear, calmer nights.