Driest start to September in over 50 years

17 09 2014

The first half of September has been exceptionally dry across much of the UK and temperatures for many areas have also been well above average, according to provisional Met Office statistics.

Figures up to 15th September show there has been 6.7 mm of rain across the UK, which is just 7% of the September average of 96mm. We would normally expect about half of the average monthly rainfall to have fallen by this point in the month.

This makes it the driest first half of September for the UK in available records back to 1960. It’s also the driest start to September for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not for England – 1997 and 2003 were drier.

Map showing actual rainfall across the UK from 1-15 September. All parts of the UK have been drier than average.

Map showing actual rainfall across the UK from 1-15 September. All parts of the UK have been drier than average.

Looking at individual countries, Wales has been the driest with less than 1mm of rain up to the 15th. Northern Ireland is just ahead, with 1.2mm of rain. England has seen 4.1mm and Scotland has seen 13.5mm.

The UK mean temperature so far has been 13.9C, which is 1.3C above the full-month average.

Day-time maximums have been particularly high, with an UK average of 18.4C which is 1.9C above the average, while night-time minimums have been closer to average at 9.6C – which is 0.7C above average.

To complete the picture of generally fine weather for the first half of this September, sunshine has also been slightly above normal with 70.8 hours for the UK – about 57% of the full-month average.

These figures have come about after a prolonged spell of settled and fine weather, dominated by high pressure sitting over the UK. This has blocked the usual low pressure systems that move in from the west and bring unsettled conditions to the UK. Instead we have seen very little rain, generally warm conditions, and slightly above average levels of sunshine.

While these figures are interesting, they don’t tell us where the month will end up overall. A few days of wet or cold weather could drastically alter the statistics, so we’ll have to wait for the full-month figures before making any judgements.

Whilst the rest of this week should be dry and warm for many areas, some sharp showers may develop in places, particularly through Thursday and Friday.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
1-15 September
Actual (°C)
Diff from Avg Actual (hours)
% of Avg* Actual (mm)
% of Avg*
UK 13.9 1.3 70.8 57 6.7 7
England 14.8 1.1 76.5 56 4.1 6
Wales 13.8 1.0 90.8 71 0.6 1
Scotland 12.6 1.7 57.1 54 13.5 10
N Ireland 13.2 0.8 63.2 56 1.2 1

*We would normally expect about 50% of the average by this point in the month.





July makes eight warm months in a row

1 08 2014

This July was the eighth month in a row which has seen warmer than average temperatures for the UK. It was both sunnier and warmer than average, but not as much as July last year, according to provisional full-month statistics from the Met Office.

Figures for the whole month show that the UK mean temperature was 16.3C, which is 1.2C above the long term (1981-2010) average.

This ranks it as the 8th warmest July in our national records, joint with 1933. It’s worth noting that last July was warmer (17.0C, ranked 3rd), and this year is well short of the record warmest July of 2006 (17.8C).

Sunshine hours for the UK totalled 228.7 hours, which makes this the 6th sunniest July in records from 1929 – but, again, it’s not as sunny as last year’s July (248.7 hours, ranked 3rd), and is well off the record set in 1955 of 256.0 hours.

Rainfall was also below average, with this month’s UK total of 64.1 mm making 82% of the ‘normal’ amount we’d expect for the month. It was the driest July since 2006, marginally drier than last July, but there are many drier Julys in the records.

The rainfall patterns have been variable, with some parts of the country, such as the South West of England and west Wales, being much drier than average while others, such as parts of the South East, being much wetter.

Much of the rain has been from intense thundery downpours. On 20th July, Norwich Airport recorded 45.8mm in one hour, three-quarters of the ‘normal’ amount for the whole month.

Here are some other top weather facts from this July:

  • Highest temperature: 32.3C at Gravesend, Kent on the 18th
  • Lowest temperature: 1.2C at Braemar, Aberdeenshire on the 6th
  • Wettest day (midnight to midnight): 46mm at Northolt, Greater London on the 28th
  • Sunniest day: 16.1 hours at Glasgow, on the 9th
  • Strongest gust: 58mph at Warcop, Cumbria on the 18th

You can explore figures and statistics about the UK climate, including our national records dating back to 1910, on our climate pages.

The table below shows the provisional full month figures for July:

  Temperature (C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
July Provisional Actual Diff from avg Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 16.3 1.2 228.7 133 64.1 82
England 17.6 1.3 251.1 130 53.1 85
Wales 16.2 1.0 238.6 133 53.7 58
Scotland 14.4 1.2 200.0 142 85.4 86
N Ireland 15.7 1.1 166.0 118 61.1 75




July 2014 in top ten warmest and sunniest

30 07 2014

This July is set to finish amongst the top ten warmest and sunniest in records dating back to 1910, according to early Met Office statistics.

Figures from the 1st to the 28th of the month show temperatures are slightly higher than normal, with a UK mean of 16.3C which is 1.2C above the 1981-2010 average.

If the month were to finish like that, it would be the joint 8th warmest in the record dating back to 1910 – but is well short of the record-breaking 17.8C set in 2006.

UK map showing hours of sunshine from 1-28 July 2014 compared to the full-month 1981-2010 average.

UK map showing hours of sunshine from 1-28 July 2014 compared to the full-month 1981-2010 average.

Sunshine hours for the UK are well above average, with 210 hours so far – which is 122% of the average we’d expect for the whole month. This means it is currently ranked as the joint 10th sunniest July in the record, and it’s likely to climb higher once the final few days of the month are included.

However, this July is unlikely to break the record of 256 hours of sunshine set in 1955.

Rainfall has been below average for the UK – but not by a record-breaking amount. The UK has seen about 59mm so far, which is 76% of the full month average – you’d normally expect about 90% at this stage.

That means this month currently ranks as the 29th driest July on record – and it’s likely to move closer to the mid-table due to any rain in the final few days of the month.

South west England and southern parts of Wales have seen the least rain compared to usual, with 42.6mm for the region making up just 53% of the full-month average.

  Mean temperature Sunshine
Rainfall
1-28 July Actual (celsius) Diff from avg Actual (hrs) % of avg Actual (mm) % of avg
UK 16.3 1.2 210 122 59 76
England 17.6 1.3 228.1 118 51.7 83
Wales 16.2 1 219.4 123 47.9 52
Scotland 14.4 1.2 187.3 133 75.1 75
N Ireland 15.7 1.1 152.5 109 53.4 66




Guest blog: ‘Risk of summer drought at normal levels’

17 06 2014

There have been some reports in the press that the Met Office has warned dry weather this June could bring a return of drought conditions to the UK – this is not the case. Here Victoria Williams, Water Resources Advisor at the Environment Agency, explains what the real risks are at the moment:

Every week we measure water resources in England to assess how dry the soils are and how much rain they can soak up, the amount of water flowing in rivers, stored below ground in aquifers and above ground in reservoirs, and the outlook for the coming months.

As we move into summer the overall water resources situation across England is looking generally healthy. This is not surprising given England has experienced the wettest six month period (Dec-May) on record.

Regionally it has also been a record breaker with the wettest six months experienced in southeast and southwest England and the second wettest in central and northwest England.

All our rivers have responded to the rainfall and are currently within normal ranges.  Groundwater levels throughout England are within normal ranges and are now starting to recede as expected for the time of year.

We also look ahead by modelling how rivers and groundwaters may respond to different future rainfall patterns over the summer. The results shows a broadly positive picture even if rainfall is below average and point to the risk of drought this summer being no greater than average.

However it is still as important as ever to use water wisely. If the weather does turn hot and dry there can be localised impacts on rivers, the environment and for farming. If this happens we work with abstractors to reduce the effects where possible and water companies will keep their customers informed if needed.

For more information see the Environment Agency water situation reports.





Stats reveal so-so September

2 10 2013

Provisional Met Office statistics show September has been fairly average for the UK, with lower than average rainfall being the only notable feature.

The UK mean temperature for the month was 12.8C, which is just 0.1C above the long-term (1981-2010) average. It’s the same story with maximum and minimum temperatures, which at 16.6C and 8.9C respectively, are both 0.1C above the long-term average.

September UK rainfall as a % of 1981-2010 average

September UK rainfall as a % of 1981-2010 average

There were 115.8 hours of sunshine in the UK during the month which adds up to 93% of the long term average – again, fairly normal. However, there were some big regional differences. Sunshine amounts were below normal in the west and south, but near or above normal in the north and east. For south Wales and south-west England this was provisionally the dullest September since 1994.

When it comes to rainfall, it has been a drier than average month for the UK. There was 70.7mm of rain during September, which is 73% of the long-term average. Parts of Wales, eastern England and Scotland had less than half the normal amount. For Scotland overall this was provisionally the driest September since 2003.

The drier than average September continues a theme for 2013 as a whole, with every month this year apart from May registering below average rainfall.

You can explore Met Office statistics on our UK Climate pages.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
September Actual Diff to Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 12.8 0.1 115.8 93 70.7 73
England 13.7 0.0 126.1 92 54.5 78
Wales 13.1 0.3 104.0 81 79.6 68
Scotland 11.2 0.3 104.9 100 95.1 70
N Ireland 12.7 0.3 98.1 86 69.3 76




July finishes in top three sunniest and warmest

2 08 2013

Met Office figures show that, with a mean temperature of 17 °C, July 2013 was the third warmest in the national record going back to 1910, behind 2006 (17.8 °C) and 1983 (17.3 °C).

This July’s heatwave was more notable for its duration than its intensity, although it is not particularly unusual in a historical context. The last year in which 30 °C was not recorded at any station was in 1993. However, this July stands out in contrast to the run of unsettled summers from 2007 to 2012, and was the most significant UK heatwave since July 2006.

Through the month we saw high pressure sitting over the UK bringing a prolonged period of high temperatures between Saturday 6 July and Thursday 24 July, when a maximum of 28 °C was recorded at one or more locations on each of those 19 days.

The last time the UK saw such a long period of hot weather was August 1997 which also had a 19- day run of high temperatures. The highest temperature for July 2013 was recorded jointly at Heathrow and Northolt on 22 July (33.5 °C). (Although this high temperature has already been surpassed in August, with 34.1 °C recorded at Heathrow on 1 August.

July 2006 still stands as the hottest month on record in the UK with a mean temperature of 17.8 °C and also saw the record July temperature of 36.5 °C at Wisley (19 July 2006).

The heatwave broke on 22 July with thunder and some very heavy downpours. The wettest day in July was in Cumbria, when 79.8mm of rain fell at Carlisle on 28 July (97.4 mm on a 48 hour rainfall total between 0900 GMT 27 July to GMT 29 July 2013).

Looking at the individual countries, the hottest day in Scotland was on 20 July (30.5 °C) at Glenlee, with Castlederg in Northern Ireland and Porthmadog in Wales recording their highest temperatures on 19 July (30.1 °C and 31.4 °C respectively). England’s hottest day was also the aforementioned UK’s hottest day (33.5 °C on 22 July Heathrow and Northolt).

July’s UK rainfall total was 64mm, with Scotland receiving near normal levels at 83.1 mm and the whole of England drier than average at 52.3 mm (but with Northern England registering above average rainfall with 75.8 mm and Southern England below average at 39.8 mm). Wales (58.0 mm) and Northern Ireland (78.2 mm) were slightly drier than average.

Statistics:

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
July Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 17.0 1.9 250.7 145 64.1 82
England 18.1 1.8 274.1 142 52.3 83
Wales 17.2 2.0 288.9 161 58.0 63
Scotland 15.2 1.9 205.8 146 83.1 84
N Ireland 17.0 2.4 227.3 162 78.2 96




April drier and colder than average

2 05 2013

After the wettest April on record in 2012, provisional full-month Met Office figures show this April has been slightly drier than average in the UK.

Rainfall throughout the UK was 64 mm this year, compared to the 1981-2010 average of 72.7 mm. That’s considerably less than the 128 mm we saw last year.

There were big regional differences in April rainfall this year. Scotland saw 121.2 mm of rain which is above the 91.1 mm average and Northern Ireland saw 75.2mm, almost spot on the 75.0 mm average.

However, both England and Wales saw well below average rainfall. Wales had 50.3mm, compared to an average of 89.3mm, and England saw 30.4mm, compared to an average of 58.7 mm.

The month was characterised by generally cold and dry weather, following on from the theme set in March. Despite this, April registered as only slightly colder than average with a mean UK temperature of 6.3 °C, which is 1.1 °C below the 7.4 °C long-term average.

This is the same mean temperature as recorded in April 2012. To find a colder April than the last two years, you have to go back to 1989 – which saw a mean temperature of 5.5 °C.

Scotland saw the coldest temperatures compared to country specific averages, with a mean temperature of 4.8 °C, which is 1.3 °C below average – and is the same temperature as recorded in 1998.

The warmest day of the month was 25 April at Faversham in Kent when the temperature recorded was 23.1°C.

In terms of sunshine, Scotland was sunnier than the rest of the UK with hours of sunshine totalling 170.9, followed by Northern Ireland with 168.0, England at 167.7 and Wales at 162.7 hours.

This compares with only 127.9 hours of sunshine in April last year throughout the UK. The sunniest April in the last 10 years was 2007 with 203.5 hours.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
Apr-13 Actual Diff to Avg Actual Diff to Avg Actual Diff to Avg
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 6.3 -1.1 168.4 114 64 88
England 7.2 -0.9 167.7 108 30.4 52
Wales 6.4 -1.2 162.7 105 50.3 56
Scotland 4.8 -1.3 170.9 127 121.2 133
N Ireland 6.5 -1.1 168 115 75.2 100




Cold weather continues across the UK

30 11 2012

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/image/b/i/old_lady_image.jpg

The drier, colder and frosty weather currently affecting the UK has given some significant relief to those who have been hit by the heavy rain and floods over the last week or so. However, cold weather presents its own problems to the public too, not just from frost, ice and snow, but from its impact upon our health.

The link between the onset of cold weather and its effects on health is documented extensively in research journals, in the UK. Older people are particularly at risk as they do not feel the cold until their body temperature falls. People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) also have a significantly increased risk of ill-health and hospitalisation during periods of cold weather and high levels of circulating respiratory infections. So many people are affected by the wider impacts of cold weather.

From 1 November 2012, the Met Office launched its Healthy Outlook® service, which is a telehealth alert service, available to patients through participating GP practices. Upon registering, patients receive a pack full of useful tips and contact information to keep them well during the winter months. Each registered patient will also receive a recorded voice call when conditions are forecast that are expected to increase the risk of symptoms becoming worse. The alert aims to give COPD patients sufficient advance warning to avoid the cold weather and keep well. The service aims to minimise the likelihood of a COPD-related exacerbation for patients and the consequential hospital admittance.

Katie Russell, Business Health Manager at the Met Office, said: “Even short periods of extreme cold temperature can cause serious illness for COPD patients. The Met Office has created Healthy Outlook® to help people with COPD take control of their own health. We monitor environmental conditions and warn people when their health is likely to be affected, giving them the opportunity to take action to stay well.”

As well as our standard service, we are also trialling Healthy Outlook® in selected high street retail pharmacies across the UK. This trial of the service will allow people to still take advantage of Healthy Outlook® even if their primary care trust (PCT) has not signed up. Healthy Outlook® is also available for the first time, online, through an e-pharmacy, giving further reach and support to those suffering from COPD.

Jane Devenish, Clinical Services Pharmacist at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “Offering Healthy Outlook® online means those who may be unable to leave the house can have access to this simple, yet effective service to help them prepare for periods when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and so they can reduce the risk of their condition flaring up.”

Forecasters at the Met Office are predicting more unsettled weather during next week but it looks like it will remain on the cold side, so it is important to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings.





Sunny March, wet April – how the jet stream is (partly) to blame

26 04 2012

UPDATE: We’ve written a further post explaining a little more behind the continuing dissapointing weather that we have seen through the summer so far.  You can read this at ‘The UK’s wet summer, the jet stream and climate change*

After an unusually dry, sunny and warm March, April has seen some very wet and unsettled weather with below average temperatures. So what has caused this about-turn in the UK’s weather? There are many factors which can impact the notoriously changeable weather in the UK, so no single one on its own can be said to be fully responsible. However, it is possible to isolate contributing factors and, in this case, one of those is the northern hemisphere jet stream. This is a narrow band of fast flowing westerly winds (ie blowing from west to east) in the high atmosphere. This band moves around and also changes its track, from a fairly straight line to something more closely resembling a meandering river. Its position can, and does impact weather in the UK and other parts of the northern hemisphere. In both March and April we have seen what we term a ‘blocking pattern’ in the jet stream, where it meanders north and south instead of making its more usual eastward progress. Despite this, March was the 3rd warmest and 5th driest March in the all-UK record going back to 1910, while April has so far been relatively cool with rainfall already 30% above the average for the whole month across England and Wales. So what is causing the difference? It comes down to the position of the blocking feature. In March, the meandering of the jet stream caused it to pass to the north of the UK – anchoring high surface pressure over the UK. This suppressed cloud, increased sunshine and temperatures, and prevented the usual rain-bearing Atlantic weather systems coming in from the west from reaching us. Soon after the start of April, however, the whole pattern moved westwards, so the peak of the northerly meander moved over the North Atlantic Ocean. The UK, in contrast, found itself under the adjacent southerly meander, with the jet stream passing to the south of the UK over France and Spain. This atmospheric set-up brings low surface pressure, cloud and rain. Because the pattern is still blocked, without a west-to-east jet stream to blow the weather system through, the low gets stuck over the UK, resulting in high rainfall totals overall. Like the weather, we can predict the path of the jet stream with a good deal of accuracy up to about five days ahead but it is more difficult to give detail on longer timescales. Therefore it’s not possible to say exactly what the jet stream will be doing in a month’s time, for example, or exactly how it will impact our weather. You can find out more about the jet stream in our YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpsRQtk6IfM

 





A tale of two halves for February and winter

28 02 2012

As February and winter draw to a close, early statistics show that both have been stories of two halves.

We often talk about why you can’t pre-judge a month or a season at its half-way stage, and the latest figures perfectly illustrate why that’s the case.

The mean temperature for the first half of February was very low as cold weather gripped the UK – particularly in England where temperatures were 4 °C colder than the long term (1971-2000) average.

If you’d projected those figures out to the end of the month you would have expected one of the coldest Februarys on record.

However, the second half of the month (figures go up 26 February) has seen some exceptionally mild weather to balance things out and we have ended up with a rather average month for overall UK mean temperature which so far, was just 0.1 °C above average.

This story of two halves can be seen in the maps below, with the blue colours denoting lower than average temperatures in the half-month figures on the left, and the more balanced situation by the end of the month on the right.

Winter, which meteorologically speaking runs from December to February, has been a fairly similar story – but in reverse.

A mild December and first half of January meant we had a very mild first half of the season, which led to some media headlines mooting one of the mildest winters on record.

However, the last few days of January and the first half of February were colder than average, bringing the overall temperature for the season down.

With a couple of days still to go, the early statistics show the UK’s mean temperature for winter is 0.7 C above average, making this a mild winter – comparable with several other mild winters in the last decade.

One common theme between this February and winter as a whole is dry weather – particularly for the south and east of the UK.

February was particularly dry, with the UK having seen just 62% of the normal amount of rainfall we’d expect for the whole month by the 26th. With a few days left, this is unlikely to change by much.

England was the driest country, having so far seen just 43% of the rainfall we’d expect for the month and Wales not far behind at 49%.

Winter has also been dry overall in England, with just 82% of the rainfall expected for the season and Wales has seen 89%. This is slightly balanced out in the statistics by Scotland being wetter than normal over the season, seeing 116% of its normal rainfall.

The relative lack of rainfall for February and the season as a whole can be seen in the two maps below, with the brown colours denoting drier than average weather for the month on the left and for the season on the right.








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