House Thermal Mass Works in Summer Too

House temperature ranges diagram

My house at Manilla, NSW, is in a climate with temperatures that are extreme, but comfortable on the average. To reduce extreme temperatures indoors, the house contains more than a hundred tonnes of thermal mass within a shell of insulation.
The “thermal mass” is the materials, such as bricks, stones, concrete, earth or water, that have high thermal capacity (See Notes below): they take in and give out a lot of heat.
Many people, who can see that having thermal mass inside a house will help to keep it warm in winter, think that the thermal mass will make it hard to keep the house cool in summer. They see many brick and brick-veneer houses in which thermal mass is exposed to the intense heat of the summer sun. In that case, thermal mass material does no good.

In this graph, I have used my last twelve months of temperature data to show the benefit of well-insulated thermal mass in summer as well as in winter.
Outdoor temperature in this year went as low as minus 4.0° Celsius and as high as plus 43.7°: a range of 47.7°. Continue reading

Spring 2014 dry and hotter

Weather log for spring 2014

Warm weather developed in early October, followed by a cool spell with one rain day of 26.4 mm. After that came three hot spells. There were showers and storms in the district, but little more rain fell at Manilla.
This spring was slightly hotter than spring 2013 and spring 2009, but not as hot as spring 2002. The air was not as extremely arid (dew point 3.6°) as in last spring (dew point 2.3°), and skies were a little more cloudy.
The total rainfall of 69.8 mm was in the 8th percentile: the 10th lowest spring rainfall. (Spring 2002 had been equal 5th lowest at 66 mm, and spring 1957 the lowest at 23 mm.) Rain fell on 11 days: more than in spring of 2002 (9 days), but fewer than in 2013 (13).

Climate for spring 2014

Data. Rainfall data is from Manilla Post Office, courtesy of Phil Pinch. Temperature, including subsoil at 750 mm, and other data are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to November 2014

Parametric plots of smoothed climate variables at Manilla
“November 2014 more droughty”

Trends to November 2014

November data (orange)

The raw anomaly value for daily maximum temperature became extremely high: +5.1°. (The record positive anomaly was +5.6°, set in November 2009.) There were also extreme “droughts” values for high daily minimum temperature, high daily temperature range and low monthly rainfall. Values for cloudy days, dew point and subsoil temperature were near normal.

Fully smoothed data (red)

The latest fully-smoothed data (May 2014) complete the season of autumn 2014. The movement away from the mild drought of late 2013 ended in this month. Rainfall was rather low, skies rather cloudy, dew point low (near a new “normal”), temperature range and subsoil temperature normal.
Contrariwise, the smoothed anomaly of daily minimum temperature peaked in May 2014, showing a more maritime climatic episode.


Fully smoothed data – Gaussian smoothing with half-width 6 months – are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange. January data points are marked by squares.
Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.

Normal values are based on averages for the decade from March 1999.* They appear on these graphs as a turquoise (turquoise) circle at the origin (0,0). A range of anomalies called “normal” is shown by a dashed rectangle in aqua (aqua). For values in degrees, the assigned normal range is +/-0.7°; for cloudiness, +/-7%; for monthly rainfall, +/-14 mm.

 * Normal values for rainfall are based on averages for the 125 years beginning 1883.

Still hot and dry in November 2014

Silky oak trees in full bloom

November Silky Oaks

Although the month began near normal, with two rain days, the weather became hot and dry again. Saturday the 22nd reached 41.4°, to be the second hottest November day on this 15-year record.
There were two heat waves, with the average weekly temperature above normal by 6.1° on the 12th and by 7.0° on Sunday the 23rd. (November of 2009 had a worse heat wave, being above normal by 9.5°, and reaching 31.3°: the hottest week in any month.)
Most nights this month were warm, with low dew points. By contrast, many days were cloudy.



 Weather log November 2014

Comparing November months

On average, the month was not quite as hot as November 2009, the hottest this century. The air was again very dry, with an early morning dew point of 7.1°, a little higher than the lowest value (5.7°) recorded for November last year.
Following only three years after the wettest November on the 130-year record (242.9 mm), the total rainfall of only 24 mm was in the 15th percentile. That is, such low November rainfalls happen about one year in seven. However, the time since a lower November rainfall (15 mm in November 1990) is thirteen years: the longest gap ever.
For the third month in a row, little changed in rainfall totals for periods of more than one month. There is no longer a serious shortage in the 6-month total (now in the 10th percentile) but there are now serious shortages in the totals for 5 months (9th percentile), 9 months (8th percentile), 15 months (6th percentile), 18 months (6th percentile), and 30 months (9th percentile). There is one severe shortage: the total for 12 months (393 mm) is in the 4th percentile.

 Climate fro November 2014 

Data. Rainfall data is from Manilla Post Office, courtesy of Phil Pinch. Temperatures, including subsoil at 750 mm, and other data are from 3 Monash  Street, Manilla.

November Climate Anomalies Log

Heat indicators log for November

This post is the ninth in a set for the 12 calendar months that began with March. Graphs are sixteen-year logs of the monthly mean anomaly values of nine climate variables for Manilla, NSW, with fitted trend lines. I have explained the method in notes at the foot of the page.

Raw anomaly values for November

Extreme values of November anomalies were as follows:

Daily Maximum Temperature Anomalies (4) +3.6 deg: November 2002; +5.5 deg: November 2009; +3.0 deg: November 2012; +5.0 deg: November 2014;
Daily Mean Temperature Anomalies (2) +4.6 deg: November 2009; +4.0 deg: November 2014;
Daily Minimum Temperature Anomalies (1) +3.8 deg: November 2009;
Rainfall Anomalies (4) +65 mm: November 2000; +66 mm: November 2001; +65 mm: November 2008: +176 mm!: November 2011;
Dew Point Anomalies (2) -5.4 deg: November 2013; -4.1 deg: November 2014;
Moisture Index (1) +3.3 deg: November 2011.

Trend lines for November

Heat Indicators

All heat indicator quartic trends began low and ended high. The trends for daily maximum and for subsoil had a peak in 2003 or 2004 and a trough in 2008 or 2010. The trend for daily mean was constant from 2004 to 2008, while the trend for daily minimum persistently rose, at a reducing rate.

Moisture indicators log for November

Continue reading

Manilla’s Record of Droughts

Graph of droughts versus time

In terms of rainfall alone, Manilla, NSW, had droughts between 1900 and 1950 that were more severe, and lasted very much longer than those of recent years.

Comparing droughts

It is hard to say how bad one drought is compared to another because some droughts last longer than others. A drought that lasts two months, and has only 10 mm of rain when it would normally have 100 mm, qualifies as “extreme”. In such a very short drought, rainfall as low as 10% of normal just qualifies as extreme. For a drought lasting twelve months, when there is normally 652 mm of rainfall at Manilla, there has never been a case of a twelve-month rainfall as low as 10% of that (65 mm). (The lowest ever was 288 mm, in 1964-65.) Clearly, using 10% of normal rainfall will not do to define longer-term droughts.
I find the severity of each drought, whether it is long or short, by its percentile rank.
The Bureau of Meteorology defines “Rainfall Deficiency” as:

Lowest on record – lowest since at least 1900 when the data analysed begin.
Severe deficiency – rainfalls in the lowest 5% of historical totals.
Serious deficiency – rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 5%.

On the graph, I use this code:

Extreme rainfall shortage: rainfall in the 1st percentile only.
Severe rainfall shortage: rainfall in the 2nd to 4th percentiles.
Serious rainfall shortage: rainfall in the 5th to 9th percentiles.

Major droughts

All of Manilla’s extreme rainfall droughts that lasted for six years or more happened in the first half of the 20th century. Extreme droughts lasting for thirty years ended during 1940, 1941 and 1947.
Since 1950, the longest extreme drought lasted only five years, ending in 1961. The next longest lasted three years, ending in 1968. The last forty-four years have brought only six extreme droughts, all of less than two years duration: 1971, 1974, 1982, 1984 (2 months!), 1994 and 2002. The twelve years since 2002 may be the longest period without an extreme drought in the whole record since 1883.
Extreme droughts had also been few and short in the earliest years, from 1883 to 1902.

Droughts Elsewhere

At Lake George, in the southern highlands of NSW, extreme droughts of long duration were similarly restricted to the first half of the 20th century, as shown by rainfall records and lake levels.
The “Millennial Drought of southeastern Australia” was not a drought of long duration at either Manilla or Lake George. Continue reading

October 2014 hot and dry

Blooms of Melia azedarach

Fragrant white cedar blooms

The month began with a warm spell, which was followed by a cool spell about the 15th. It ended with a long hot spell, 4.8 degrees above normal, including the hottest October day this century (38.1°) on the 26th. As usual, there were no frosts.

Of three rain days (usually seven), only the 14th had much rain: 26.4 mm, with heavy showers.
Half the mornings had no cloud at all, and nine days had very wide temperature ranges, greater than 20°.

Weather log October 2014

 Comparing October months

This was the hottest October month at Manilla in this 16-year record. Maximum, mean and minimum temperatures were all highest values, but the maximum was no higher than in October 2007. The subsoil temperature returned to a value below normal.
As indicators of low moisture, the daily temperature range was very high and cloudiness and dew point were very low, as in the last two October months. Even less cloud had been seen in 2002 and 2004.
Recently, lower rainfall occurred in October 2002 (15.0 mm), 2012 (12.6 mm), and 2013 (15.0 mm). However, this month’s total of 27.0 mm is well below the October average of 58 mm, in the 21st percentile. Since last month, little has changed in rainfall totals for periods of more than one month. There is still a serious shortage in the 6-month total (8th percentile) but not now in the 9-month total (10th percentile). The 15-month total has advanced to severe (4th percentile), while the 18-month total has retreated to serious (5th percentile). A serious shortage has also appeared in the 30-month total (8th percentile).

Climate October 2014  

Data. Rainfall data is from Manilla Post Office, courtesy of Phil Pinch. Temperatures, including subsoil at 750 mm, and other data are from 3 Monash  Street, Manilla.