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.




Jet stream shift to bring summer weather

1 07 2013

It’s usually true to say that confidence in a weather forecast decreases the further out you look.

However, we have a situation at the moment where we are actually more confident in the detail for this weekend and beyond rather than over the next few days.

This is because we are seeing some very strong signals for high pressure to dominate the weather from around Friday and then persist for several days afterwards.

In summer high pressure means fine weather, and it also looks like it will become very warm as well.

Normally we can’t give much detail beyond the 5-day forecast period, but with the current situation we can give a forecast beyond that with a higher than usual level of confidence.

So for, say, the Men’s Wimbledon Final on Sunday it looks like it will be dry and very warm with a good deal of sunshine. We are less confident in predicting who will be in the final, or who will be the winner, though.

As we go through into next week, it looks highly likely that one or two places will nudge towards the 30 C mark.

With this in mind, it’s likely that by the middle of next week we’ll have topped the current warmest temperature of the year, which was 27.2 C recorded at Heathrow yesterday (Sunday, 30 June).

So why will we be seeing high pressure develop over the UK to give us this spell of fine weather?

Well, to get this type of situation we need the jet stream to be in the ‘right’ place for this time of year – tracking to the north of the UK between Iceland and NW Scotland.

Chart showing expected position of the jet stream on 6 July 2013.

Chart showing expected position of the jet stream (shown in shades of green) on 6 July 2013.

In this position it guides rain-bearing Atlantic low pressure systems off to the north of the country, meaning the far north-west of the UK gets glancing blows from these systems while the rest of the country has more settled conditions.

We expect the jet stream to move into this position over the next few days.

Leading prediction models from forecasting centres around the world all seem to be in agreement about this development – hence the unusually high level of certainty in the forecast. But, of course, forecasts can still change – so do stay in touch with the latest in our 5-day outlook and out to 30-days ahead.





Met Office figures confirm disappointing June

29 06 2012

Update: Provisional Met Office figures for the whole of June are now available at: Met Office confirms wettest June in over a century

Provisional figures from the Met Office to the 27th of June show it has been a disappointing month on all fronts – with many areas being exceptionally wet, very dull and cooler than average.

Currently it is the second wettest June on record for the UK with 130.1 mm of rainfall – just 6 mm off the 2007 total, which was the wettest June in the records which go back to 1910.

It is already the wettest June on record for Wales, with 186.3 mm of rain beating the previous record of 183.1 mm set in 1998. England and Northern Ireland are currently second wettest in the records.

Looking at the figures for the whole of Scotland, it has been a relatively unremarkable month, but there have been big contrasts. North Western areas have seen an exceptionally dry month, while southern and eastern parts have joined the rest of the UK in the wet conditions.

It should be noted that totals for this month so far do not include the heavy rainfall yesterday, and with more rain in the forecast it is likely more records will fall by the end of the month.

It may not be surprising that, with so much rain, sunshine hours have been well down across the UK. There have been 104.2 hours of sunshine so far, just 62% of the long term average (from 1971-2000).

With some sunshine in the forecast, the totals will increase, but it is likely to be one of the duller Junes on record – but it’s not possible to say where it will finish. The current dullest June on record was in 1987, with 115.8 hours of sunshine.

Temperatures have also been below average, with a mean temperature of 11.9 C (0.7 C below average) making for the coolest June since 1991 in the UK.

One of the main reasons for the wet and dull weather so far this month has been the position of the jet stream, which has been much further south than usual. This has meant that rain-bearing Atlantic low pressure systems have been over or close to the UK for the whole month.

max temp min temp mean temp sunshine duration rainfall
Actual Diff from 71-00 avg Actual Diff from 71-00 avg Actual Diff from 71-  00 avg Actual % of 71-00 avg Actual % of 71-00 avg
Regions
UK 15.5 -1.3 8.6 0.2 11.9 -0.7 104.2 62 130.1 179
Eng 16.7 -1.4 9.5 0.4 13 -0.6 99.8 56 131.8 209
Wales 15.8 1 9.4 0.8 12.5 -0.2 106.1 62 186.3 216
Scot 13.6 -1.3 6.8 0.4 10 -0.9 113.1 73 108.1 127
N Ire 15.2 -1.3 8.3 0 11.6 -0.7 91.2 60 151.3 210
Eng & Wales 16.5 -1.4 9.5 0.4 12.9 -0.6 100.7 57 139.3 211
Eng N 15.6 -1.4 8.7 0.2 12 -0.7 85 51 143.5 207
 Eng S 17.2 -1.4 10 0.5 13.5 -0.6 107.6 58 125.6 211




Your weather pictures

24 05 2012

Thank you for sharing your weather pictures on Facebook  and Twitter. Here’s some of our favourites.





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

 





Infographic: London Marathon weather

16 04 2012

The full weather forecast for this Sunday’s London Marathon is  available on Wednesday, in the meantime we look back at the weather on previous marathon days.

 

View more weather forecasts for events on our website.





Warmest February day since 1998

24 02 2012

Yesterday saw many parts of the UK enjoying sunshine and exceptionally mild weather for the time of year.

The highest temperature recorded yesterday was 18.7 °C at Coleshill, Warwickshire, making this the warmest February day in the UK since 1998.

Here is a selection of yesterday’s high temperatures around the UK:

18.7 °C Coleshill, Warwickshire
18.3 °C Market Bosworth, Leicestershire
18.2 °C Santon Downham, Suffolk
18.2 °C Shoeburyness, Essex
17.6 °C Donna Nook, Lincolnshire
17.1 °C Kew Gardens, London
16.7 °C Hawarden, Flintshire
15.9 °C Dyce, Aberdeen
15.1 °C Killowen, Newry and Mourne

The mild weather is set to continue into next week, with the best of the sunshine and the highest temperatures always likely in central and eastern parts of England and eastern Scotland. It will feel pleasant in any sunshine but we can expect some cold nights over the weekend, with a touch of frost around on Sunday morning.





Very mild start to November

17 11 2011

The first part of November has been very mild, dry and quite sunny across the UK, according to provisional Met Office climate figures.

The UK average temperature for 1-15 November was 9.4 °C, which is 3.5 °C higher than the long term average. The warmest district of the UK so far this month has been East Anglia where the average temperature was 11.2 °C, some 4.5 °C above the long term average for the area.

We would normally expect the first half of November to be warmer than the second as we transition towards winter (which, meteorologically speaking, starts in December). However, even bearing this in mind, the temperatures seen in the first half of this month have been much warmer than normal.

Rainfall amounts have been well below normal across the UK for the first half of the month. The UK has seen 25.6mm of rain so far which is well below the level you would expect at the mid point of the month.  Northern Scotland has seen the driest weather with just 10.9mm of rain being recorded, a mere 6% of the monthly average.

Rainfall 1-15 November 2011

As you might expect from the low rainfall amounts we have also seen a fair amount of sunshine during the first half of the month. The UK has seen 61% of average for the month with 35.9 hours and Northern Ireland has seen a full months worth of sunshine in the first 15 days with 55.4 hours.

  Average temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall
Location 1-15 Nov 2011 Difference from 71-00 monthly average 1-15 Nov 2011 Percentage of 71-00 monthly average 1-15 Nov 2011 Percentage of 71-00 monthly average
UK 9.4 °C 3.5°C 35.9 61 % 25.6 mm 22 %
England 10.2 °C 3.8 °C 29.2 45 % 26.9 mm 32 %
Wales 9.5 °C 3.0 °C 43.5 75 % 36.3 mm 23 %
Scotland 8.1 °C 3.4 °C 41.3 86 % 20.3 mm 12 %
Northern Ireland 9.0 °C 2.9 °C 55.4 100 % 27.7 mm 25 %

For the UK, the warmest November on record was 1994 with an average temperature of 8.8C; and the driest was in 1945 when 22.1 mm fell.

However, with more than two weeks of weather still to come and temperatures expected to return to more normal levels before the month is out, it’s too early to say where this November will sit in the record books.

 








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