Provisional statistics from the Met Office show 2012 was the second wettest year in the UK national record dating back to 1910, and just a few millimetres short of the record set in 2000.
The exceptionally wet year was characterised by a dry start which quickly gave way to very wet weather, with April and June both being the wettest on record.
Unsettled weather continued through to the end of the year, with December being the 8th wettest on record for the UK.
Throughout the year, accurate forecasts and warnings from the Met Office have helped everyone across the UK plan and prepare for the worst impacts of the extremely wet weather we have seen.
The persistent wet weather resulted in total 2012 rainfall for the UK of 1330.7 mm, which is just 6.6 mm short of the record set in 2000.
Looking at individual countries, 2012 was the wettest year on record for England, third wettest for Wales, 17th wettest for Scotland and 40th wettest for Northern Ireland.
This adds to a high frequency of wet years since 2000 in the UK – with four of the top five wettest years occurring since then.
Top five wettest years in the UK
1. 2000 – 1337.3mm
2. 2012 – 1330.7mm
3. 1954 – 1309.1 mm
4. 2008 – 1295.0mm
5. 2002 – 1283.7mm
We have always seen a great deal of variability in UK rainfall because our weather patterns are constantly changing. However, preliminary evidence suggests we are getting slightly more rain in total and it may be falling in more intense bursts.
Looking at annual rainfall for the UK, we can see the country as a whole getting wetter in recent decades.
Long-term averages of 30-year periods show an increase in annual rainfall of about 5% from 1961-1990 to 1981-2010:
Annual average UK rainfall according to 30-year averages
Preliminary research from the Met Office also suggests we may have seen a change in the nature of the rain we get, with ‘extreme’ rainfall becoming more frequent.
An analysis of 1 in 100 day rainfall events since 1960 indicates these ‘extreme’ days of rainfall may have become more frequent over time.
|2012 Provisional stats|
|Mean temperature ( °C)||Sunshine duration (Hours)||Precipitation (mm)|
|Actual||Difference from 1981-2010 average||Actual||% of 1981-2010 average||Actual||% of 1981-2010 average|
|England & Wales||9.5||-0.1||1454.4||98||1205||128|
|Eng E & NE||8.8||-0.1||1420.3||100||1064||137|
|Eng NW & Wales N||8.8||-0.1||1305||97||1614.1||122|
|Eng SW & Wales S||9.8||-0.1||1457.3||96||1574||125|
|Eng SE & Central S||10.3||-0.1||1601.5||98||999.7||127|