SEVERE WEATHER RECORD 2002
summary of severe weather warnings
and other notable weather extremes for
Northamptonshire since February 1998.
1 February The county is buffered by strong winds gusting to severe gale force. Gusts of up to 50mph are recorded at Pitsford Hall. The police close a section of the A14 due to the risk presented to high sided vehicles and part of the roof of a service station in Towcester is lost due to the high winds. 26 February Severe weather batters the county during the morning, bringing down power-lines and damaging roofs. Fire- fighters are called to Banbury Close in Northampton where a garage roof had blown off on to a car. The maximum gust of 59mph at Pitsford Hall was recorded between 0400 and 0430 GMT. Flying debris caused minor damage to one of the Stevenson screens, the first occasion on which met equipment has been damaged by the weather since the station's inception in 1998. 9 March Severe gale batters the county. Winds gust up to 60mph at Pitsford Hall with gusts reaching 80mph reported elsewhere. Toddlers escape serious injury as a pane of glass is blown from a second-floor shop window in Gold Street, Northampton. The strong winds force the postponement of the Saints' clash with Newcastle at Frankin's Gardens rugby ground and power lines in Hanslope are brought down causing delays for rail passengers between Rugby and Northampton. 17 April First rain since 31 March 2002: 17 consecutive days without rain. 1 May April was a month of marked dryness for the first 3 weeks with the majority of the month's rainfall falling in the final week. The following breakdown was provided for the COL bulletin: 1st dry period: 31 March 2002 first 0.0mm day 16th April 2002 last 0.0mm day 2nd dry period: 20th April 2002 first 0.0mm day 24th April 2002 last 0.0mm day 7.0mm fell between 17th and 19th April 2002 (0900-0900) inclusive, comprising 2 wet days and 1 rain day. 9 June Torrential rain lashes down across much of the county. Peak rainfall rate recorded by AWS at Pitsford Hall: 56.4mm per hour at 1430GMT accompanied by thunder. 20.4 mm is recorded over the 24 hour period up until 0900 hrs on 10 June, mostly falling in a little over 3 hours. 30 July Heavy rain and thunderstorms across the county leave thousands of homes without power. Flash flooding occurs in the Wellingborough area and across the border in Market Harborough. 26.7mm is recorded over the period 0900-0900 GMT at Pitsford Hall, most falling in torrential downpours peaking at 56.4mm per hour at 1750 GMT. The flooding in Market Harborough is reckoned to have cost tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage with much of the town centre under water as the River Welland bursts its banks. 16 October 49.9mm of rain is recorded over the period 0900 on 15th to 0900 on 16th. Peak rates of 12.6mm per hour were recorded by AWS at Pitsford Hall between 1710 and 1730 GMT. A grand opening ceremony to unveil flood defences in Northampton was forced to be postponed as high winds and torrential rain prevent the use of cranes intended to hoist the final few concrete blocks on top of an embankment along side the river at Weedon Bec. 70 homes were flooded in this area of Northampton during the Easter floods of 1998. 27 October Storm force winds, gusting to 70mph at Pitsford Hall, savage Northampton leaving a trail of destruction and swamping emergency services. Town centre leisure centre, Sol Central, is evacuated as the wind rips apart of its huge metal roof. Cinema and restaurant goers are told to leave for their own safety as emergency crews fight to control the situation on top of the tall building. Roads leading to the complex are sealed off amid fears of injury being caused to passers-by on the streets below. At least 11 houses were hit by trees across Northampton. About 50 roofs were severely damaged and scores of chimney stacks were left in a dangerous state. Many homes were left without electricity and about 70 trees blocked roads and threatened further damage. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported despite a total of six deaths nationally being attributed to the storms. Reports were received of even greater maximum gusts across the county. 80 mph was recorded at Brixworth (site affiliated to Pitsford Hall) just before 12.00 GMT. 1 fallen tree at Pitsford Hall came perilously close to causing damage to the weather station's sunshine recorder, positioned at ground level on the school's southern perimeter for the duration of the winter. Fortunately, no serious damage was rendered to any of the station's inventory, although remedial work was necessary to the AWS anemometer which had been thrown off position during the gales. The storm force winds had sufficient strength to bend the mast which was replaced and strengthend once the storm had eased.
Trees brought to the ground at Beckett's Park, Northampton.
30 December The Environment Agency releases a floodwatch warning for the county following persistent downpours over the festive period. 9.4mm were recorded at Pitsford Hall on the 28th followed by a further 10.6mm on the 29th. Motorists are urged to avoid driving along flooded roads or through fords crossing rivers and streams. Large parts of the Nene catchment remain heavily saturated since the 21.4mm recorded on the 21st.
The weather extremes documented here are generally only those observed at Pitsford Hall Weather Station. Reports received of extreme events in other parts of the county are indicated by *.