Garden Views-08-August 2020

August began with a drizzly morning, then a few days of cool, bright and breezy weather. Still searching conditions for finishing hay making, which has spread into a prolonged series of short bursts in 2020, we spied what seemed like a perfect slot of at least 3 dry sunny hot and windy days.

Bitter experience has ensured we’re not fooled by such a mirage of forecast opportunity, so I cut only a modest amount, still saturated from the previous 24 hours rain, in the late afternoon of the 6th. Only to find the clouds rolled in as soon as I finished and 3 mm of (unforecast) drizzle fell on it overnight.

The next morning was murky and muggy, and of the predicted 3 sunny days, only the middle one half materialised. In the brief bursts of sunshine, the garden has looked lovely. And unsurprisingly, green!The other two “sun-all-day” days ended up really hot, humid and fairly still, but with no sunshine at all, so once again multiple manual turnings were needed to get the hay dry enough to bring in. Which is quite hard work on a slope in these conditions.

The following day thunderstorms had been promised, and after a misleadingly pleasantly warm, though red sky warning dawn, the air became ever more still and quiet, the clouds darkened and eventually we were hit with the worst thunderstorms in years. Rolling past in a couple of waves, the house was actually physically shaken by the thunder claps at one point.

The resulting deluge of rain in a very short period caused significant erosion of fine gravel on the track, meaning all the chevron run off channels were filled in, so a top priority a day later was to clear these before the next storm hit.

The following evening saw us witnessing an extraordinary heat lightning storm over 75 miles away to the East, having videoed the drone eviction behaviour at the butterchurn hive during the day. This second week in August saw us locked into hot humid weather for days on end, with many thunderstorms, and occasional downpours, and several tropical night where temperatures stayed above 20 degrees C all night, the picture below being taken at 9.00 am one morning.

But in amongst the rain and several grey sky days, were some stunning clouds and light..

Sunday 16th saw us attempting a walk round the bottom field late afternoon, then beating a hasty retreat as yet another storm approached from the South.

This one dumped 32 mm of rain in just over an hour, so we were really pleased we’d sorted the track runoff channels.

Much in the garden looked lovely as we moved past the often slightly barren period in late July…

After a really disappointing month of weather, and indeed all 3 “summer” months, the PV record shows how poor light levels have been generally, and the month’s rainfall came in at a very high level of 260.4 mm, much worse than our previously most disappointing August of 2017, which only notched up 151 mm. The Met Office graphs and tables for summer 2020 weather across the UK mirror our experiences here, with rainfall levels about 170 % of the 1981- 2010 summer average, whilst sunshine levels were perhaps only 75 – 80% of average, even if mean temperatures were slightly above average, by about 0.3 degrees C.

Add in 2 named storms, Ellen (19th to 21st) and Francis (25th) with winds over 50 mph, and it once again illustrates how the weather here now seems to oscillate with ever more dramatic extremes.

So payback for the amazing spring of 2020.

This PV reading is also below the previously worst August. The late bank holiday of 2019 was the hottest on record, whilst this year has been one of the coolest, but at least we enjoyed 3 dry and fairly bright days in a row over the bank holiday weekend to lift our spirits as we head into autumn, with masses of butterfly and bee activity when the sun shone, in spite of temperatures barely reaching the low teens.