The attached statistics are a succinct summary of the Radcliffe Weather Station meteorological record in terms of monthly and annual means, totals, and extreme values for the principal meteorological elements.
Daily meteorological observations have been made at this site since 1814 and daily observations were made by the first Radcliffe Observer, Dr Thomas Hornsby, for about half the period between 1767 and 1804.
One-page summaries of monthly means of the main meteorological elements for the current year at Oxford were published in the Astronomical Observations, Vol. VIII - XIII, 1847-1852. Daily observations for the period 1850 and 1935 were published periodically by the Radcliffe Observatory in Radcliffe Observations. The first volume of Radcliffe Observations to give detailed meteorological data collected at Oxford is Vol. XIV, for the year 1853, published by James Parker and Co. of Oxford in 1855. The final published volume, Vol. LVI, covers the years 1931-1935. Since the meteorological station became the responsibility of the University of Oxford's School of Geography in 1935 monthly values of the principal meteorological elements have been published in the Monthly Weather Report of the British Meteorological Office. The Journal of Meteorology (the British monthly periodical inaugurated in October 1975, not the American eponymous quarterly of 1944) has published selected monthly values from the Radcliffe observations from its inception to 1996 and still continues. Once a year, usually but not invariably in February or March, the Journal carries a report of two or more pages on the weather of Oxford in the previous year, based on the Radcliffe observations. Each report includes a table of selected meteorological values for each of the twelve months, and gives totals and means for the year.
The published daily and monthly values prior to 1881 and, in the case of some elements, prior to 1924 have had to be corrected to allow for the instrumental and sire errors. Corrected tables of monthly values for most elements were published in the Radcliffe Observation, Vol. 55, the full title of which is: Results of meteorological observations made at the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford, in the five years 1926-1930, Appendix A page 95 (1932).
In attached statistics of long period monthly means and extremes the periods differ for each element. For some visual observations, such as snow lying and fog, the period is about 60 years. Earlier observations of these phenomena may not be strictly comparable with the standard procedures now used. This also applies to earth temperatures which were only taken at these standard depth from 1925 onwards. The daily duration of sunshine was first recorded in 1880 and before this date daily maximum and minimum temperatures are not thought to be sufficiently reliable to be compared with standards maintained subsequently. Monthly mean temperatures and rainfall totals for the period before 1850 have been carefully examined and checked on several occasions and are thought to be as reliable and as accurate as possible. Rainfall totals for each month from 1767 to 1814 have been synthesised from the available Oxford records and other records made during this period. They are probably as good a record as can ever be constructed but there must be inevitably some reservations about the accuracy of the monthly and annual rainfall values before 1830. Because of their interest and the uniquely long continuous record at this site the monthly averages and extremes of temperature and rainfall are here given for the longest possible periods.
A detailed description of the principal meteorological observations made at the Radcliffe Observatory, subsequently the Radcliffe Meteorological Station, Oxford, from 1815 to 1995 can be found in:
- Wallace, J.G. (1997) Meteorological Observations at the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford: 1815-1995 PDF: 61.8 MB Oxford Geography Research Paper No. 53.