Even the ducks are fed up

With another wet week ahead, I think even the ducks are fed up. In an interesting twist, the south of the country will actually be wetter than the north – cue lots of phone calls from my mother in Scotland asking me what the weather is like just so she can boast it’s better where she is. She really does do this and in summer the game extends to “has the sun set with you yet?”…

But I digress. This time of year usually sees the weather quieten down and high pressure take over, but not this week. We’ve got low pressure after low pressure lining up in the Atlantic and that means wet and windy. So expect some longer spells of rain this week, and in between the rain bands it’ll be sunshine and showers (ie you’ll still need your brolly).

Looking at the longer range forecasts I think we’re stuck in this unsettled weather rut for at least another week or two. I guess I better buy my one-year-old his first pair of wellies!

Run – it’s the weekend

It would seem the weather gods have heard about the hosepipe bans and are taking the proverbial. Every time I’ve ventured out for a walk this week I seem to have got caught in a torrential downpour with hail and thunder making guest appearances. So is the weekend going to be any better?

In short, not really! The heavy April showers will continue, especially during the afternoons when they are more likely to turn heavy and thundery with hail for some and sleet/snow for the Scottish hills.

So a chilly start to Saturday morning with a few mist and fog patches but these should soon clear. Hopefully despite the showers soon getting going, we might see some sunnier breaks. I think Northern Ireland and southwest England may fare best for avoiding the showers. The wind should be lighter which will make it feel a bit warmer, though temperatures are nothing to write home about, highs just 10 to 14C.

Not much change on Sunday, with more heavy April showers and a risk of some very heavy downpours across northern England and southern Scotland in particular. Temperatures again around 10 to 14C at best and very chilly at night.

As for Monday it looks like more persistent frontal rain will move in across England and Wales, but Scotland and Northern Ireland may enjoy some dry and bright weather. There’s a lot of uncertainty over the track of the rain so I’d keep your brollies and wellies handy for the commute to work.

Good luck to everyone taking part in the London marathon on Sunday. It’s going to be a chilly but dry start, so if you can run fast you might just finish before the showers start…

Clever Weather

Once a week I will try to answer your weather questions, so if there is anything you’ve always wanted to know then this is your chance!

To start the ball rolling, here’s one I get asked a lot. What is the difference between rain and showers?

Obviously if you get caught in either one you’ll get wet, the difference is simply the type of cloud they fall from.

Rain falls from layer or stratiform cloud, usually associated with dynamic frontal zones (the boundary between two air masses). Often the rain will affect a large area and last at least a few hours. With a little bit of knowledge about fronts, it’s quite simple to forecast where and when the rain will fall next. Rain can be heavy, light or even just spits of drizzle.

Showers fall from convective or cumuliform cloud, often associated with an unstable airstream or the result of daytime heating (think tropical afternoon downpours). These are much more localised small-scale events, so you may get a shower while your next-door neighbour’s garden stays dry. It’s much harder to forecast where and when showers will fall.

Showers don’t last as long as rain, however they can be more intense. And if the wind steers them the right (or wrong!) way then you can get shower after shower, making it feel more like a spell of rain.

If you have a Clever Weather question then send it my way info@kirstymccabe.co.uk.

Week ahead

I thought I’d don my weather hat and take a look at the forecast for the week ahead. Please don’t shoot the messenger when I tell you it’s unsettled, which means we’ll all get some showers or longer spells of rain accompanied by brisk winds. It will also feel cold with temperatures below average and still a risk of night-time frosts (when it’s not raining of course!).

And the signs are this unsettled spell will continue through the weekend and into next week too. Which isn’t great news for sunbathers but good for the gardens. Although it will take an awful lot more rain over many more months to reverse the drought and hosepipe bans. Personally, I’m still hoping for a nice warm dry summer.

April showers

The weather is back to normal this month with plenty of April showers. Although the rain is welcome news for our gardens it won’t be enough to reverse the hosepipe ban in place for parts of England. Unless of course we get a horrendous amount of rainfall over the next few months. But do you remember summers 2007 and 2008? Let’s hope not…

I’m dreaming of a White Easter

Believe it or not in the UK we are more likely to get a White Easter than a White Christmas. But surely after last month’s record-breaking heat, there won’t be snow on our Easter eggs this year? Well, given the snowy start to this week I wouldn’t rule it out!

The later Easter falls (the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox in case you were wondering) the better the weather is likely to be. However, over the past 45 years snow has fallen quite regularly, and not just on the mountain tops. The most recent snowiest Easter occurred on 1st-3rd April 1983, with Scotland, the Midlands and Kent getting up to 10cm of snow.

So, what is the forecast for Easter 2012? Cool, breezy and rather changeable pretty much sums it up. I’ll bring you more details later this week…

It really is British Summer Time!

The weather has been fantastic recently, making it feel like we’ve fast-forwarded into summer (and a proper summer at that). The only giveaway that we’re still in spring is the sharp drop in temperature overnight, back down to near freezing for some rural spots along with some morning mist and fog.

So why has it been so warm? The spring heatwave has been driven by high pressure bringing warm air from North Africa, across the Mediterranean, over Europe and eventually to us. But the warm southeasterly winds don’t explain why inland Aberdeenshire has been so hot. That is due to something called the Föhn effect, as warm air is driven up over the Grampians it loses moisture and becomes even warmer in the lee of the mountain.

So warm in fact, that Scotland has seen its March temperature record smashed on three successive days. On Tuesday afternoon, Aboyne in Aberdeenshire reached 23.6C, beating Cromdale in Moray’s 23.2C set on Monday afternoon. Just the day before, Fyvie Castle in Aberdenshire recorded 22.8C, the first to beat a March temeprature record that had stood for 55 years. Prior to last weekend, the record March temperature in Scotland had stood at 22.2C, set at Gordon Castle in Moray in 1957 and again at Strachan in Kincardineshire in 1965.

Talking of records, sadly none were broken during my Sport Relief mile in Glasgow. But I had a great time doing the mile with Ethan in his buggy, along with my sister and her children. I was so impressed by how many people had turned out for the event and the sunny weather gave the event a real carnival spirit.

Unfortunately it looks as though we’ll be back to more seasonal weather come the start of April, so enjoy the heat while you can, it will be at least 10 degrees colder and much cloudier soon enough. But it doesn’t look as though we’re going to get a great deal of rain any time soon, so drought could well be an issue for many of us this year.

If you’re wondering what the weather will bring for the Easter break then I’ll be posting a forecast soon. All I will say for now is that a White Easter happens more often than a White Christmas…

Why do we change the clocks?

The clocks go forward this weekend, but forget those stories about farmers in Scotland, the real reason we keep fiddling with the time is thanks to a horse rider and the Germans.

The idea of British Summer Time was first proposed over 100 years ago by keen horse-rider William Willett, who was incensed at the waste of useful daylight first thing in the morning during summer. Willett spent the rest of his life fighting to get acceptance of his time-shifting scheme. He died in 1915 with the Government still refusing to back BST. But by then Britain and Germany were fighting each other in the First World War and any system that could save fuel and money was worth trying. Germany introduced the system in 1916 and a few weeks later Britain followed suit on 21st May, and we have been ‘changing the clocks’ ever since.

So why don’t we stay on BST all year round? Actually, back in 1968 we did exactly that and for 3 years we marked British Standard Time. That wasn’t the first experiment to shift the clocks in winter; during the Second World War, Britain adopted Double British Summer Time, with the clocks one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in winter and two hours ahead in summer. But neither experiment proved a complete success.

Even today we still cannot agree on whether daylight saving is a good thing or not. Over the past two decades there have been eight failed attempts to change clock times. Each year proposals are made to try Double British Summer Time again, bringing the UK in line with much of Europe. On the plus side we’d have longer, brighter evenings, but on the downside winter mornings would be even darker, and more dangerous for youngsters travelling to school.

In the meantime, get ready to change all your clocks and don’t be late this weekend if you’re taking part in Sport Relief. See you in Glasgow!

Spot of bother

If you have noticed my absence online recently, it’s because we had a spot of bother in the family. Or rather lots of spots!

Ethan came home from nursery last week with a little rash, which quickly turned into (you guessed it) chickenpox. Or at least that’s what we thought it was but turns out it may have been hand, foot and mouth disease. Either way, it’s some form of viral pox! Luckily he has coped really well and hasn’t scratched too much, instead he pokes and prods at his spots (maybe scratching is something you learn when you’re older?). We had made lots of plans to meet up with friends over the next few days but everything had to be cancelled, except for my husband going on a friend’s stag night of course…

As a mum it’s horrible to see your wee boy get progressively spottier and it’s pretty gross when the spots start going scabby and blistering over. My friend commented she could barely look at her son he was so hideous! After days of being stuck inside we ventured out for a quick walk in the buggy, with his Snoozeshade in place so nobody could see my spotty boy, just the little spotty hand waving out the side!

And in case you are wondering why Ethan’s pox meant I couldn’t get online much other than a quick tweet, it’s because he turned into a very clingy toddler and I didn’t get a moment’s peace (not even when I needed the loo!). He hasn’t been sleeping well at night but I am hoping now he’s nearly back to normal we can finally get a decent night’s sleep. In the meantime thanks for all the top twitter tips. Bicarbonate of soda baths, calamine lotion and sudocrem were invaluable, along with lots of cuddles.

All of which had to be used on my husband when he develped hand, foot and mouth the following week!

Emotional farewell

I finally got round to having some farewell drinks with some of my favourite ex-colleagues at GMTV/Daybreak last Friday night. It was so lovely to see everyone and enjoy a few glasses of fizz. Well done to Steve Hargrave for a lovely speech – he made me quite emotional! And huge thanks for the amazing card and gifts. I had such a great time it took me all weekend to recover… Partying was definitely easier in my early twenties!

This week it looks like winter is biting back after the balmy spring weather last week. Meteorologically speaking we might be in spring but March can be a wild month so I wouldn’t take any bets on the weather for the rest of this month, other than to say it’ll be changeable!