Winds of change as record gusts bring down trees

Morning rush hour traffic hit by torrential rain and partially flooded roads, Greenland Road, Sheffield.
Morning rush hour traffic hit by torrential rain and partially flooded roads, Greenland Road, Sheffield.
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An extreme gust of wind – which hit Sheffield on a day trees were blown over – was the strongest recorded in December in Sheffield for more than 30 years.

New figures from Museums Sheffield’s weather station at Weston Park show the 73.6mph blast on December 5 was the highest since the site started recording wind speeds electronically in 1980.

Felled trees blocked Greenland Road, Darnall, after coming down with unusually high winds that weekend. But the weather station data also reveals that December 2013 was unseasonably mild and the sunniest in Sheffield for five years – with 58.4 hours of sunshine recorded compared to 60.3 hours in 2008.

The month included the highest December temperature, at 13.2C, since 2007’s 14.3C and the joint highest December average temperature since 1974 at 6.5C.

Alistair McLean, curator of natural sciences at Museums Sheffield, said: “It has been very mild so far this winter, though I suspect with America having a bit of a cold spell at the moment we may well end up getting it.

“The high gust was recorded at 12.44pm on December 5 and it was pretty windy all that weekend. The strongest gust of wind that we have ever recorded was during the Sheffield Hurricane back in 1962, when it was 96 miles per hour but this is the strongest since our date was computerised in 1980.”

A year of weather reports in Sheffield included snow in March, the wettest April on record and a July that was the third wettest ever as well as the hottest for seven years.

Overall, there was less rain and more hours of sunshine than average in 2013, with the hottest temperature for a decade recorded on scorching August 1, when the thermometer hit 30.3C.

The coldest day of the year was January 16 when it was -5C.

Alistair said: “We are still gathering the data but it seems to have been quite an average year. We did break a few short-term records where normally in a year we break longer ones.

“It is interesting that we had a fairly extreme year in 2012 and 2013 was pretty average – who knows what’s going to happen this year?”

Strong winds have hit Sheffield this week but today was due to be bright and dry, turning cold in the afternoon before rain in the evening.

Saturday is set to be mainly sunny but colder, with temperatures as low as 1C

Ben Windsor, forecaster with Meteogroup, said: “It will be windy over the next few days but nothing incredibly strong – on Thursday there could be gusts of 45mph at the most.”