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Blame Ciara, says Observatory, as storm sees Armagh hit by second wettest February on record

One day brought an unusual sight when seagulls were seen flying over the Observatory grounds in the middle of gale force winds

Armagh has just experienced its second wettest February on record.

Figures released by Armagh Observatory say it was the wettest in 30 years.

And you would have to turn the clock back a bit further – to 1923 to be precise – to come anywhere close to rivalling the rainfall.

The reason? Lay the blame at Ciara’s door – Storm Ciara that is!

Total February precipitation was 147.4 mm – that is 5.81 inches – which is approximately 2.7 times both the long-term (1796–2010) and the most recent (1981–2010) February averages at Armagh.

It means it was the second wettest February on record at Armagh since daily rainfall measurements began at the Observatory in 1838.

The wettest day was the 23rd – with 21.8 mm (0.86 inches) of precipitation – and the second-wettest was the 8th, with 20.4mm (0.80 inches) of rain. The high rainfall, the Observatory says, is to be associated with the passage of Storm Ciara.

The three wettest Februarys at Armagh are now those of February 1990, 2020 and 1923, with respective monthly rainfalls totalling 153.7 mm, 147.4 mm and 137.8 mm respectively.

It should be noted, however, that when compared to other months of the year, February at Armagh – long with January, March, April and May – is not normally associated with a very high monthly rainfall.

Indeed, considering the most recent 30-year average precipitation for each month at Armagh, the mean monthly rainfall for February (54.1 mm) is the lowest of all the 12 months.

And this year’s February total (147.4 mm) is not even in the top 30 of the wettest calendar months at Armagh since 1838.

Snow was recorded as falling on five days – (and sleet on a sixth – with hail or ice pellets on four days.

Despite a succession of powerful Atlantic storms – take a bow Ciara, Dennis and Jorge!! – affecting the UK and Ireland this February, Armagh escaped relatively lightly.

There were only two days when the strength of the wind, as judged by meteorological observers, was estimated as gusting to gale force, namely the 8th and 15th, associated respectively with Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.

The 8th was noteworthy for seagulls seen flying in the wind over the Observatory grounds that afternoon.

There were several days of high rainfall during the month, but none exceptional. For example, the highest daily rainfall at Armagh this February was 21.8 mm on the 23rd, which ranks 19th in a list of the wettest February days at Armagh since 1838.

The mean monthly temperature was 5.54 degrees Celsius (42.0 F), which means that February 2020 was mild, 0.93 C warmer than the long-term (1796–2010) average February temperature at Armagh and 0.62 C warmer than the most recent (1981–2010) 30-year
average.

The warmest day (highest maximum air temperature) was 12.7 C on the 28th, followed by 11.3 C on both the 9th and 21st.

The coldest day was 3.0 C on the 11th, a result which was preceded by the second-coldest day of the month, namely 4.3 C on the 10th.

In terms of the meteorological winter – December to February – it was described as being “warmer, wetter and sunnier than average”.

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