First half of July is… average?

18 07 2014

With the recent run of generally fine, dry and warm weather you’d be forgiven for thinking this July so far would be anything but average – but the statistics tell a different story.

The UK mean temperature for 1-16 of the month is 15C, just 0.1C above average. UK rainfall is perhaps surprisingly close to the average too, with 36.3mm of rain making up 46% of the whole-month average – we’d expect to see about 52% of the average by now.

Sunshine is the only measure which is notably above average, with 111.4 hours for the UK which is about 65% of the whole-month average (again, we’d expect about 52% at this point in the month).

These figures might not fit in with how many have perceived this month so far, which has seen a good deal of dry and fine weather.

One possible reason for this is that UK day-time maximum temperatures have been slightly higher than average (19.7C), while the night-time minimums have been slightly lower than average (10.4C). So we’ve experienced warmer days, and cooler nights, which adds up to a very average mean temperature (which includes day and night-time temperatures).

Another reason for the statistics bucking the expectation is because, with the exception of last year, the preceding few summers have been generally a little disappointing.

While last year’s July was drier than average, five out of the six previous to that were wetter than average and three were cooler than average.

So perhaps we feel that the recent fine and dry weather is more unusual than it really is because of recent history.

Obviously it’s far too early to judge how this July will finish overall, with half of the month still to add in to the statistics.

You can explore all kinds of climate information, including monthly summaries back to 2001, and climate data back to 1910, on our climate pages.

  Mean temperature Sunshine Rainfall
1 – 16 July 2014 ** Actual Diff from 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 15.0 0.1 111.4 65 36.3 46
England 16.3 0.2 120.2 62 29.0 46
Wales 14.7 -0.3 110.6 62 29.5 32
Scotland 13.1 0.0 101.1 72 50.0 50
N Ireland 14.5 0.1 88.1 63 36.7 45

** Please note these are half month statistics from 1-16 July. The final figures will change once statistics from the second half of the month are included.





Early figures suggest one of the warmest Junes on record

27 06 2014

Early statistics from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre show that this has been one of the warmest Junes in records dating back to 1910.

Based on figures up until 25 June the mean temperature for the UK for the month is 14.4 °C, making it joint 6th at the moment and more than likely one of the top ten warmest once final figures are in. The warmest June on record is 1976 with 15 °C.

This continues a run of seven months where the UK mean temperature was warmer than average, with all the months from December through to April each being at least 1 °C warmer than the long-term average.

Looking at specific countries it is currently the second warmest June on record in Scotland with 13.2 °C – the warmest being 1940 with 13.5 °C. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland it’s currently the 9th warmest.

Rainfall totals have been below normal as a whole and sunshine totals have been near normal, brightest over south-west England and Wales but duller over Scotland.

  Mean temperature Sunshine Rainfall
1 – 25 June 2014 ** Actual Diff from 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average Actual % of 81-10 average
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 14.4 1.4 161.1 95 45.9 63
England 15.2 1.2 184.3 101 33.0 53
Wales 14.2 1.0 203.1 117 43.9 51
Scotland 13.2 1.9 113.6 76 67.0 75
N Ireland 14.0 1.2 146.8 98 50.5 66

** Please note these are preliminary statistics from 1-25 June. The final figures will change once statistics from the final few days of the month are included.





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.





June weather summary video and your pictures

5 07 2013

June began settled and sunny in most areas before becoming more unsettled and cooler. In our video forecaster Helen explains what weather defined June and highlights the warmest, coldest, wettest and windiest places in the UK last month.

Visit our website for a full written summary of June’s weather.

Your June weather pictures

Thank you for sharing your weather pictures with us on Twitter. We’ll be sharing your Great British summer weather pictures each week on our summer pages so keep your pictures coming on Twitter and Instagram – use the hashtag #loveukweather.





June set to be slightly drier and sunnier than average

28 06 2013

Provisional Met Office early June figures suggest that it has been drier than average and slightly sunnier than usual so far this month.

Rainfall for the UK from 1-26 June was 37.8 mm. At this stage we would expect to have seen about 87 % of the full month average, however we have only seen 52 %.

Up to the 26th we have seen 163 hours of sunshine in the UK, which is 96 % of the full month average – suggesting we are on track for a sunnier than average month.

However, the mean UK temperature up to the 26th has been recorded at 12.7 °C which is -0.3 °C below the 1981-2010 long-term average for the month.

The average maximum temperature so far this June is 17.1°C which is very close to the long-term average of 17.3 °C.

Looking at the individual countries, Scotland and Northern Ireland have had slightly above average temperatures so far.  Scotland’s mean temperature has been 11.5 °C (0.2 °C above average) and Northern Ireland’s has been 13.0 °C (0.2 °C above average).

Wales had the most sunshine with190.6 hours, already above the full-month long-term average.

Northern Ireland has had the most rain so far with 79.8 mm compared with England’s below average 27.5 mm and Scotland’s 45.3 mm.

Temperatures of 26.4 °C at Herstmonceux, East Sussex (19 June) and Mickleham, Surrey (20 June) are the hottest days in the UK so far.

The hottest day in Wales so far this year was at Usk (25.1°C on 19 June).

Scotland’s hottest day was at Glenlee (24.5 °C on 8 June) and Northern Ireland’s hottest day of the year so far was on 9 June (24.5 °C) at Magilligan.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
1-26 June Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 12.7 -0.3 163.0 96 37.8 52
England 13.4 -0.7 168.2 92 27.5 44
Wales 12.7 -0.5 190.6 110 45.9 54
Scotland 11.5 0.2 148.9 99 45.3 51
N Ireland 13.0 0.2 150.4 100 79.8 105




The jet stream and why it’s too early to write-off summer

13 05 2013

There have been one or two stories in the press today saying we’re in for another washout summer, which would rightly inspire collective misery across the country.

However, it’s a far too early to be writing off any chance of a decent summer season – after all, it doesn’t officially start (for us meteorologists) for more than two weeks (on 1 June).

It appears the news stories are borne out of the current position of the jet stream, a band of fast moving westerly winds high up in the atmosphere. But why is this important?

A quick Jet stream explainer

The jet stream tends to guide the generally wet and windy weather systems which come in off the Atlantic. So, if it’s over us or just to the south, we tend to get a lot of wet and windy weather – which is what we expect through winter.

If the jet is to the north of us, it guides that changeable weather to the north to give us more settled conditions – which is what we expect in the summer.

(You can read a bit more about the jet stream, how it impacted our weather last year, and any potential connections to climate change in a blog story we wrote last year).

What’s going on now?

Right now the jet stream is sitting to the south of the country and it is influencing the unsettled weather we are seeing at the moment.

Forecast chart showing position of the jet stream at midday on 13 May 2013

Forecast chart showing position of the jet stream at midday on 13 May 2013

It’s fair to say that this is roughly the position it was in for extended periods during the exceptionally wet weather that we saw last year, particularly in June.

Crucially, however, the jet stream does move around quite a bit and it can change its track significantly in just a few days. So the current position of the jet stream does not mean that it’s stuck in that position.

Looking ahead

Much like our weather, it’s a huge challenge to predict the exact track of the jet stream more than five or six days ahead, so there’s still a great deal to play for in the outlook for our summer.

In short, it’s far too early to write-off summer 2013 based on the current position of the jet stream.

To get the best information on what to expect you can see the latest detailed forecasts out to 5-days on our website, as well as a general view of what we expect out to 30 days.

You can find out more about the jet stream in our YouTube video.





Is it the wettest UK summer on record?

26 08 2012

This summer started with the wettest June in the UK in the national records which go back to 1910 and was followed up by a wetter than average July (16th wettest), so are we set for the wettest summer on record?

Officially, in meteorological terms, summer runs from the start of June to the end of August – so there are still a few days to go for this year.

The Met Office holds many different climate datasets but uses the UK national series that goes back to 1910 when referring to records.

In this dataset, the record to beat was set in 1912, when the UK had 384.4mm of rain – although we don’t have to look too far back to find a very wet summer, as 2007 is third in the rankings with 357.8mm. The 1971-2000 average for the UK in summer is 226.9mm.

Looking at this year, we have the figures for June and July, but for the UK as a whole we currently only have data up to 15 August – which show rainfall had been slightly below average to that point.

That means we can say with some certainty that we have seen 300.8mm of rain so far this summer (145.3mm in June, 115.9mm in July, and 39.6mm to 15 August), ranking 20th in the records.

There has been a fair amount of rain since then, so that ranking is sure to have climbed – but it’s not possible to say until all the numbers have been crunched at the end of this month.

It’s important to remember that the UK total rainfall is effectively an average of the rain that falls across the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – so looking at one station, or even one country, isn’t a reliable indicator of how much rain we’ve seen for the UK as a whole.

We can say that this summer is likely to be one of the wettest on record – some may argue that, as it’s already in the top 20% in records dating back to 1910, it already is one of the wettest on record.

We can also say that this year has continued a disappointing run of UK summers which started in 2007 – all of which have seen above average rainfall and, with the exception of 2009, below average sunshine hours.

However, we cannot say where this year will finish in the rankings or whether it will challenge the record set in 1912. For that final assessment, we’ll have to wait until after the end of August.

You can see a discussion about the causes of this year’s unsettled summer in an article posted earlier on our blog.





Improving picture as many start school holidays

18 07 2012

After weeks of heavy rain across parts of the UK, conditions are set to improve for many areas this weekend.

More heavy showers will affect some parts during the rest of the week, but by Saturday most areas will see drier weather with any showers few and far between. Temperatures will reach the low 20s Celsius.

Sunday will see the improved weather continue for a large part of England and Wales, with mostly dry weather and bright or sunny spells expected. However, the north and west of the UK, can expect some rain – which will be heavy in places – with strong winds.

Drier weather for many, with rain where it’s needed

Martin Young, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “As we move towards the weekend we will see a return to a more normal summer weather pattern for the UK. This will bring dry and bright conditions to southern parts over the weekend, and some much needed rainfall to the far north west of Scotland – where it has been exceptionally dry.”

Jet stream returning to ‘normal’ position

There has been a lot of talk about the position of the jet stream in relation to the recent wet weather, with this narrow band of fast flowing winds having been much further south than we would expect at this time of year.

Over the next few days, the jet stream is expected to move to its more usual position to the north of the UK, guiding rain-bearing low pressure systems from the Atlantic away from the country. This is why we expect to see a move to more normal summer conditions, with the south and east seeing the best of any drier and brighter conditions.

The above picture shows the position of the jet stream on 18 July 2012.

The forecast for 23 July 2012 shows the jet stream much further to the north.

Looking to the Olympics

There is understandably a huge amount of interest in what the weather will be doing at the end of next week in time for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. However, it’s still a little early to give a detailed forecast for the Olympic Stadium for the big opening event.

Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive at VisitBritain said: “The weather is a peculiarly British obsession, our international visitors come all year round for our temperate climate and enjoy a dash of unpredictability. Sunshine will help to get us all in the party mood, as we show the warmth of our welcome and the British know how to host not just a great Games but a great party too. Come rain or shine – Britain is the place to be in 2012.”

As ever, we’ll be working round the clock to make sure everyone – from the UK public, to athletes, coaches, and the organisers of the Games – has the very latest picture of what the weather has in store. For the latest information, keep up to date with our online forecasts and warnings.





Met Office confirms wettest June in over a century

2 07 2012

Provisional Met Office figures for June show double the average amount of rain has fallen, making it the wettest June since records began in 1910.

This is the second record breaking month of rainfall this year, with April also topping the rankings. The period from April to June is also the wettest recorded for the UK.

It is also the second dullest June on record with just 119.2 hours of sunshine, narrowly missing out on the record of 115.4 hours set in 1987. To complete the disappointing picture, it has also been the coolest June since 1991 with a mean temperature of 12.3 deg C.

Unsettled weather has never been from the UK during the past three months, with only the latter half of May seeing a spell of prolonged fine weather.

Movements in the track of the jet stream, a narrow band of fast flowing westerly winds high in the atmosphere, have contributed to the weather we have seen.

This June has seen periods of heavy and prolonged rain, as well as short but exceptionally heavy showers.

The total UK rainfall was 145.3mm – exactly twice as much as you would normally expect compared to the 1971-2000 average. This beats the previous record of 136.2 mm set in 2007.

Looking at individual countries, it has been the wettest June on record for Wales and Northern Ireland, the second wettest in England, and the eighth wettest in Scotland.

Many areas have seen extremely high rainfall – with 83 (out of 237) observation sites marking their wettest June on record. Some of these aren’t significant as they have very short recording histories, just a year in some cases, but others have been operating much longer – Otterbourne in Hampshire been operating for 119 years.

One of the key features of the month has been that the far north west of the UK, traditionally the wettest part of the country, has been remarkably dry.

Up until quite late in the month, a few stations in this area were below their record lowest rainfall amounts – but they just missed the record books with rain falling in the last few days of the month.

Met Office provisional June figures
mean temperature sunshine duration rainfall
Actual Difference from 1971-2000 average Actual % of 1971-2000 average Actual % of 1971-2000 average
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 12.3 -0.3 119.2 70 145.3 200
England 13.4 -0.2 121 67 142.6 227
Wales 12.7 0 120.6 71 205 238
Scotland 10.4 -0.6 119.4 77 129.4 152
N Ireland 12 -0.4 97.4 64 169.2 235
England & Wales 13.3 -0.2 121 68 151.2 229
England N 12.5 -0.3 105.9 63 162.5 234
England S 13.9 -0.2 129 69 132.1 222

Current or previous wettest years on record are:

· UK: (Previous) 136.2 mm in 2007

· England: 146.0 mm in 2007

· Wales: (Previous) 183.1mm in 1998

· Scotland: 155.0 mm in 1938

· Northern Ireland: (Previous) 152.6 mm in 1912.

Average UK conditions (1971-2000):

· Mean temperature: 12.6 deg C

· Rainfall: 72.6mm

· Sunshine: 169.4 hours





Evolution of Thursday’s thunderstorms

29 06 2012

A series of intense thunderstorms brought exceptionally severe weather across parts of the UK yesterday, causing flash flooding and disruption in many places.

As the storms tracked across the country our observation sites picked up some very heavy hourly rainfall totals, with Scampton in Lincolnshire seeing 28.4 mm falling in an hour.

Several other sites saw hourly totals in excess of 20 mm. This led to flash flooding of properties, roads, and landslides in places.

More than 111,000 lightning strokes were also detected across Europe, with more than 1,000 detected over the UK in a 5 minute period at the peak of activity yesterday.

Hail stones ‘the size of golf balls’ also caused damage in Leicestershire, according to media reports.

The storms were borne out of hot, humid air which had tracked up from the Azores far to the south in the Atlantic. This air mass tracked up on southerly winds, moving over Spain before reaching the UK.

As a result, much of the country saw warm and muggy conditions, with the temperature reaching 28.4 C at St James’s Park, Central London.

The heat and moisture in the air were enough to cause thunderstorms, but the really intense storms were formed as an Atlantic weather front moved in from the west.

As it ‘collided’ with the warm and humid air mass, air rapidly rose to create towering cumulonimbus storm clouds which were laden with water, and ripe for developing hail, thunder and lightning.

This led to several distinct lines of thunderstorms developing along the boundary where the two air masses met.

As shown in the radar sequences below, one line originated in the Cardiff area of south Wales in the early morning. This moved in an east-north-east direction across Worcestershire, Shropshire, the West Midlands and Leicestershire to clear Lincolnshire by late afternoon.

A second line of thunderstorms reached the Lancashire coast around late morning and moved in a NE direction to reach the Newcastle area later in the day, clearing the north east coast by late evening.

There were also torrential downpours across parts of Northern Ireland and western Scotland. Southern parts of England and Wales saw relatively little rain and periods of warm sunshine.








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