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Miserable May was wettest in 18 years, say meteorologists

It was also the coldest since 2015, Armagh weather watchers reveal

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Damp day: Shoppers take shelter in a Belfast cafe during one of May’s many downpours. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Damp day: Shoppers take shelter in a Belfast cafe during one of May’s many downpours. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Damp day: Shoppers take shelter in a Belfast cafe during one of May’s many downpours. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Last month was the wettest May for 18 years, according to meteorologists at a Northern Ireland weather station.

Armagh Observatory also reported it was the coldest May for six years.

Daily weather observations have been recorded in the city since 1795, helping to identify long-term trends.

The early May Bank Holiday was a washout for many diners in Northern Ireland just as cafes, restaurants and pubs reopened for outdoor service.

Instead of relaxing in the sun, many were forced to wrap up warm in coats while sheltering from thunderous downpours and cold weather under awnings and umbrellas.

Readings from last month showed 107.15mm of precipitation. May 20 was the wettest day with 30.7mm of rainfall, followed by May 12 with 14.3mm.

In contrast to May 2020, which was the 13th driest May on record, last month was the 12th wettest May, according to the latest analysis of daily rainfall measurements that began at Armagh back in 1838.

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It was the wettest May for 18 years with slightly more precipitation (108.7 mm) recorded in May 2003.

April showers also arrived a month late with large hailstones recorded on May 4 and 5, with sleet also on May 5 and small hail on May 23. Thunder was reported on May 10, 12, 18 and 23.

There were 20 nights with ground frost, during which minimum grass temperatures fell to less than or equal to zero.

The damp, cool and changeable weather pattern switched near the end of the month to provide a spell of warm, dry weather for the Spring bank holiday.

May 30 was the hottest day of the month at 22.9 C, with a low of 9.5C on May 5.

The warmest night was 11.3 C on May 29 while the coolest was -1.2 C on May 6. The morning of May 6 was the coolest May night for six years, since -1.5 C was recorded on May 1 2015.

Despite the low average temperature, May was a very sunny month, with a total of 208.7 hours of strong sunshine.

The sunniest day was May 30 with 14.7 hours of strong sunshine, followed by 13.1 hours on the following day. It was the sunniest May for three years, since the exceptionally sunny May 2017 and the 17th sunniest May since sunshine records began at Armagh in April 1880.

This year’s meteorological spring March, April and May — was sunnier and cooler than average, with average rainfall.

The very wet May effectively compensated for a dry March and the exceptionally dry April. Total spring precipitation was 164.25 mm while the mean spring temperature was 8.48 C.

The dull March, the exceptionally sunny April and sunnier than average May led to this spring being sunnier than average. There were 491.8 hours of strong sunshine during the three months.

Looking ahead to this week, the Met Office has forecast maximum temperatures of 20C for today, after a rather cloudy start in the morning but brightening up in the afternoon. It will be warm in any afternoon sunshine before becoming quite breezy later.

From tomorrow until Friday, cloud and patchy rain will lead to drier and brighter conditions in the afternoon. It will be dry on Thursday and Friday.


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