The spell of mild weather that we enjoyed throughout most of December has continued into January. This doesn’t mean that the weather is good; simply that it’s not cold. On Saturday night, we had a howling gale, torrential rain and even thunder and lightning. I took the photos above during our last walking group promenade of the season before Christmas, when we started from Saint-Grat in Aveyron. It was a beautiful day – one of the few I can remember in 2013.
It’s hard to find anything positive to say about the weather in 2013, except for July and August, when we enjoyed a short summer, the first half of December and the odd decent spell at other times. Apart from that it was a grim, wet year.
The SF (Statistics Freak) has been slaving over a hot computer to bring you the figures. I’ll give you those for December first and then provide the verdict on how 2013 as a whole compares with previous years.
Weather assessment for December
A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In December 2013, there were:
Pluses – 17
Zeros – 7
Minuses – 7
This made it the second best out of 16 Decembers. The chart below shows the percentage of plus days for this December and the preceding 15 (the line is the trend). It shows just how variable December can be.
We had 10 frost nights in December, which is around the average, although it varies considerably from year to year and depends on how clear the sky is at night. So far this winter, we have had 17 frost nights, which is not exceptional. We know from bitter experience, though, that this can change radically: February 2012 was bitterly cold with no less than 24 frost nights out of 29 (it was a Leap Year).
Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. Following an extremely wet November, December’s rainfall was well below average, with 46.5 mm (79.7 mm average) and it rained on 8 days as opposed to the average of 12.
Verdict on 2013 as a whole
2013 was without a doubt the worst year we have had since we arrived in 1997. The total number of pluses was 146, compared with the average of 178. The average obviously conceals considerable variation between years (best = 2011 with 201 pluses; previous worst = 2007 and 2010 with 167 pluses each). But 2013 was a lot worse than the previous worst years. In fact, compared with the average, we were denied a whole month of pluses.
Our rainfall data, collected for nine years, is a bit more scientific. In 2013, a wet winter was followed by a wet spring, a wet early summer and a wet autumn. November was the second wettest month we have had. This all added up to a total of 1,065 mm, 26% above the average annual rainfall of 843.3 mm over nine years. Good for the aquifers but not for the soul.
Let’s see what the weather dictons (sayings) have to say about the weather to come.
Beaux jours de janvier trompent l’homme en février. Nice days in January deceive people in February (i.e. don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by good January weather).
I’ll leave you with some further photos taken on the walk at Saint-Grat mentioned above. Someone with an original artistic bent has collected all kinds of objects to construct hundreds of metal sculptures lining a path for more than a kilometre. The materials include forks, spades, pieces of ducting, metal buckets, tape measures, pipes of all descriptions etc. A novel method of recycling.
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