2013: Average figures mask some notable highlights

31 12 2013

Provisional statistics for 2013 suggest it has been a very average year – but those annual figures mask a year which features some significant weather highlights.

Using figures up to 29 December and then assuming average conditions for the last two days of the year, statistics for 2013 show temperature, rainfall and sunshine amounts have all been very close to the 1981-2010 average.

The mean temperature for the UK is currently 8.76C, which is just 0.08C below the annual long-term average, rainfall stands at 1079.8 mm, which is about 94% of the average, and sunshine is at 1425.7 hours, which is 104% of the average. All in all, it seems like a very ‘normal’ year.

However, a closer look at individual months and seasons shows a different picture.

The coldest spring for more than 50 years

This year’s spring was the coldest since 1962. Temperatures were well below average in all areas, but particularly England and Wales, and it was the coldest spring in the Central England temperature series since 1891.

The cold season was mainly due to the very cold March (the coldest month of the extended winter) – but April and May also saw well below average temperatures. Winds were often from the east or north, with notably low temperatures and some unseasonably late snowfalls in places extending into April and May.

A fine summer and autumn’s St Jude’s Day storm

However, after a mixed June, July kickstarted a period of relatively fine weather which led to the warmest, driest and sunniest summer since 2006. The season itself isn’t that remarkable in its own right, but becomes so when put into context of the last few years which have generally seen disappointing weather.

Autumn was fairly average in terms of its numbers, with temperature, rainfall and sunshine close to average, but October featured the St Jude’s Day storm. This storm is judged to be ranked within the top 10 most severe storms in the autumn across southern England in the last 40 years, but is not in the same category as the ‘Great Storm’ of October 1987.

A mild but stormy December

After a fairly dry November to finish the autumn, we moved in to what has become a very unsettled and stormy December. The first major storm came through on the 5th and 6th, then another followed on the 18th and 19th, with another storm tracking past the UK on the 23rd and 24th.

While there have been strong winds during December, rainfall has seen marked regional differences. For example, parts of southern England have seen around double the amount of rain they would normally expect while some spots along the east coast of the UK have only seen around half of their December average.

Other than the generally unsettled conditions, this December has also been mild – it is currently ranked as the seventh mildest December in our records dating back to 1910, although this ranking could change when the final figures come in.

You can find a wealth of information about the UK’s weather and climate throughout 2013 on our climate pages.

Some 2013 extremes:

Max temp – 34.1C at Heathrow, London 1 August

Min temp – -13.6C at Buntingford, Hertfordshire 22 January

Max wind gust – 142mph, Aonach Mor, Invernesshire 5 December

 

Keeping the UK informed

It has also been a notable year for the Met Office. Throughout 2013 the Met Office’s forecasts and warnings have provided timely advice during the periods of severe weather we have seen, helping the UK stay prepared and minimise impacts.

Our Get Ready for Winter and Get Ready for Summer campaigns saw many different companies and organisations working with us to help people prepare for the ever-changing UK weather.

We’ve continued to work in partnership with others around the world to develop the understanding of weather and climate science, helping to drive forward accuracy.

A year of achievement for the Met Office

Met Office staff have again received a high level of recognition for their work. In October Dr Nick Dunstone was named Outstanding Young Scientist for Climate Sciences by European Geophysical Union, while Dr Peter Stott was recognised as one of the ‘Global Thinkers’ of 2013 by Foreign Policy magazine.

Very recently, the Met Office’s Chief Executive, John Hirst, and Chief Scientist, Professor Julia Slingo, were recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.

Other Met Office highlights include:

  • The launch of Europe’s Space Weather Prediction Centre helping protect the technologies our day-to-day lives rely on from severe solar flares, space storms and solar wind which can disrupt them.
  • The launch of Climate Service UK marking a step-change in the provision of services to assess how a changing climate might affect business and society.
  • Retaining our position as the leading operational forecaster in the World.
  • The number of weather reports received by our Weather Observation Website passing 100 million.
  • A celebration of the centenary of the pioneer of modern day weather forecasting, Lewis Fry Richardson, taking up his post as Superintendent of Eskdalemuir Observatory.

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