Early figures from the Met Office show spring (March, April and May) 2013 is on course to be the coldest in the UK since 1979.
Estimates of the mean temperature for the whole season have been made based on data from 1 March up to 15 May as well as an assumption of average conditions through to the end of this month. The final figures could therefore be different, depending on the temperatures we actually see up to the end of May.
The estimates suggest the mean UK temperature for spring will be around 6.1 °C, which would make it the 6th coldest spring in national records dating back to 1910 and the coldest since 1979 when the mean temperature was 6.0 °C.
The estimated figure this year goes against recent form for spring, with eight of the past ten years being above the long-term (1981-2010) average for the season of 7.7 °C.
However, looking further back, the most recent colder spring of 1979 came in the middle of a long run, lasting from 1962 to 1989, of springs which were almost all colder than the current average*.
This year’s particularly cold spring was heavily influenced by an exceptionally cold March which had a mean temperature 3.3 °C below the long-term average. April and May (so far) have been less cold, but have also registered slightly below average mean temperatures.
The colder than average conditions have been caused by frequent east and northerly winds which have brought cold air to the UK from polar and northern European regions.
This spring also looks to be slightly drier than average, with an estimate of about 214 mm of rain which would be roughly 90% of the average amount we would expect through the season. This isn’t that notable when compared with the the springs of 2010 and 2011, which were much drier – notching up 79% and 70% of the average respectively.
Estimated provisional statistics for spring 2013
|Mean temp (° C)||6.1||6.8||6.2||4.7||6.3|
|Diff from avg (° C)||-1.7||-1.7||-1.8||-1.6||-1.5|
|% of avg||89.8||87.3||84.3||92.3||99|
*The Met Office operates 30-year climate averages which are updated every decade. Looking at the 30-year averages of 1961-90, 1971-2000 and the current climate averages of 1981-2010, you can see the average mean temperatures for spring have increased over that period. This means defining what is ‘below-average’ depends on which 30-year period is used. All references in this article use the current 1981-2010 climate averages.
30-year period Average spring UK mean temperature
1961-1990 7.1 °C
1971-2000 7.4 °C
1981-2010 7.7 °C