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.

Wind and rainfall data 29 to 30 December 2013

30 12 2013

As forecast gales and heavy rain are again affecting the UK. Below you can see the highest gusts of wind and rainfal totals recorded at Met Office observing sites from 6pm 29 December and 8am 30 December.

Maximum gust speeds:

Site Area Elevation (m) Max gust speed (mph)
CAPEL CURIG     GWYNEDD          216 77
BERRY HEAD                      DEVON            58 75
PLYMOUTH, MOUNTBATTEN           DEVON            50 71
CULDROSE                        CORNWALL         76 66
MILFORD HAVEN DYFED            44 61
NORTH WYKE                      DEVON            177 61
CARDINHAM, BODMIN               CORNWALL         200 59

Rainfall totals:

Site Area Rainfall (mm)
MURLOUGH                        DOWN               54.4
THREAVE                         KIRKCUDBRIGHTSHIRE 52.2
WHITECHURCH                     DYFED              47.4
ESKDALEMUIR                     DUMFRIESSHIRE      42.4
KESWICK                         CUMBRIA            41.8
ST BEES HEAD        CUMBRIA            36.4
BLENCATHRA                      CUMBRIA            35

The unsettled weather will continue through the rest of the week and everyone is advised to stay up to date with the latest Met Office forecasts and National Severe Weather Warnings and find out what to do in severe weather.

Wind and rainfall data 27 December 2013

27 12 2013

As forecast, a deep area of low pressure developed over the Atlantic Ocean in the early hours of Friday morning bringing with it a further spell of wet and very windy weather across the UK as it tracked northeastwards, crossing northwest Scotland.

Below you can see the highest gusts of wind and rainfall totals recorded at Met Office observing sites from midnight to 2.30pm on 27 December.

Maximum gust speeds:

Site Area Elevation (m) Max gust speed (mph)
Aberdaron Gwynedd 95 102
Capel Curig Gwynedd 216 87
Mumbles Head West Glamorgan 43 85
St Bees Head Cumbria 124 85
Inverbervie Kincardineshire 134 81
Valley Gwynedd 10 81
Lake Vyrnwy Powys 360 78
Mona Anglesey 60 78
Needles Old Battery Isle of Wight 80 78
Dundrennan Kirkcudbrightshire 113 77
Pembry Sands Dyfed 3 76

Rainfall totals:

Site Area Rainfall (mm)
Tulloch Bridge Inverness-shire 38
Tyndrum Perthshire 37.8
Charterhouse Roxburghshire 37.8
Kiedler Castle Northumberland 33.2
Achnagart Ross and Cromarty 32.8
Redesdale Camp Northumberland 28.6
Cluanie Inn Ross and Cromarty 26.2
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 24.2
Dalwhinnie Inverness-shire 24.2
Newton Rigg Cumbria 22
Banagher, Caugh Hill Londonderry 19.4

Winds will slowly ease from tonight and we are expecting a brighter and less windy interlude over the course of Saturday and for most of Sunday with overnight frosts and sunny spells and a wintry mix of showers.

Another active atlantic frontal system is expected to swing eastwards across the country on Sunday night and Monday morning. A combination of strobng winds and moist air has the   potential to give locally significant amounts of rain which could cause the risk of further flooding.  The wind and rain are expected to clear eastward on Monday morning.

During this period of unsettled weather, people are advised to stay up to date with the latest Met Office forecasts and National Severe Weather Warnings and find out what to do in severe weather so they can plan ahead for the weather in store and make the most of the festive season. We would also encourage you to stay up to date with the latest news on flooding by checking the Environment Agency’s website for the latest flood alerts and warnings.


Iconic British gardeners meet Met Office scientists

27 12 2013

Devon’s gardeners have had some of their horticultural problems answered thanks to a visit from the iconic BBC Radio 4 Gardeners Question Time team to the Met Office.

The show, in front of a 200 strong audience, was lead by Met Office and BBC forecaster, and show regular, Peter Gibbs with Bunny Guinness, Anne Swithenbank and Pippa Greenwood making up the panel of experts.

While at the Met Office Headquarters in Exeter the panellists looked at the work undertaken on the almost 11 hectare site aimed at promoting bio-diversity and reducing the impacts of the building on the surrounding fauna and flora.  The panel heard about the success of the wildflower meadow and how outlawing the use of fertiliser has reduced pollution in the ponds, leading to an increase in amphibians and the reintroduction of the very rare Maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides). Devon Wildlife Trust has helped with the work and the Met Office has been awarded a coveted Biodiversity Benchmark Award.

The panel also talked to some of the many world leading scientists who work for the Met Office in Exeter and heard how some of their research is leading to changes in the way we think about plants and how we garden.  They learnt how the Met Office has developed a mobile weather service that not only lets you check the weather forecast for where you are via your mobile phone but also allows you to upload and share your local weather conditions.  Bunny Guinness was so impressed she vowed she would be using it in future. The panellist also heard how increased atmospheric carbon dioxide could result in increased planet growth and why global warming has not led to an end to cold winters.

The episode will be aired in the Christmas special on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 27th December at 3pm, with a repeat on Sunday 29th at 2pm December.

Was it a white Christmas?

26 12 2013

Using technology such as radar, webcams and ground based sensors combined with the expert opinion of experienced forecasters, the Met Office is able to declare that no snow was reported by our Met Office Observers on Christmas Day 2013.

Although a few of our automated weather stations recorded sleet or snow over some hills, Christmas this year was green for most of Britain rather than white.

Wind and rainfall data 23 to 24 December 2013 – Updated 1130

24 12 2013

As forecast it was a stormy night across the southern half of the UK. Below you can see the highest gusts of wind and rainfal totals recorded at Met Office observing sites from 6pm 23 December and 7am 24 December.

Maximum gust speeds:

Site Area Elevation (m) Max gust speed (mph)
Needles Old Battery ISLE OF WIGHT 80 92
Berry Head DEVON 58 84
Langdon Bay KENT 117 76
Gorleston NORFOLK 4 75
Manston KENT 49 75
Mumbles Head WEST GLAMORGAN 43 75
South Uist Range WESTERN ISLES 4 75
Plymouth Mountbatten DEVON 50 74
Solent HAMPSHIRE 9 74
Aberdaron GWYNEDD 95 73
North Wyke DEVON 177 73

Rainfall totals:

Site Area Rainfall (mm)
Kenley Airfield GREATER LONDON 53.6
Charlwood SURREY 41
Wych Cross EAST SUSSEX 38.6
Alice Holt Lodge HAMPSHIRE 33.8
Goudhurst KENT 32.2
Middle Wallop HAMPSHIRE 31.6
Frittenden KENT 30.8
Cluanie Inn ROSS & CROMARTY 30.8
Liscombe SOMERSET 30.4
Hurn DORSET 29.8
Larkhill WILTSHIRE 29.2

The Met Office at Boscombe Down, Salisbury Plain, recorded 66.7mm of rain in the 24 hours 9am 23 December to 9am 24 December. This is provisionally a new all time daily record in any month for the station – records going back to January 1931. The previous record was 62.3mm on 16 August 1977.

Today we can expect severe gales across western and northern Scotland, with damaging gusts in places, especially around the coasts.

For Christmas Day and Boxing Day, we are expecting a colder and less windy interlude with overnight frosts and sunny spells and a wintry mix of showers, so there is a chance that some places, especially the higher ground of the west and north, may see a White Christmas. For most of us though Christmas is likely to be green not white.

Another Atlantic depression is expected to bring a further spell of wet and stormy weather to the UK on Friday.

During this period of unsettled weather, people are advised to stay up to date with the latest Met Office forecasts and National Severe Weather Warnings and find out what to do in severe weather so they can plan ahead for the weather in store and make the most of the festive season.

Updated Wind and Rainfall totals for 18th to 19th December

19 12 2013

As forecast there were severe gales and heavy rain overnight. See the tables below for the strongest low level gusts and the largest rain totals across the UK.

We are expecting more stormy weather over the coming days, with spells of heavy rain and gales affecting the UK – with the heaviest rain affecting the west and south west and strongest winds affecting the far north. Warnings for each individual spell of wet and windy weather will be issued when we are confident they will provide useful and accurate advice.





Geminid meteor shower Twitter interview

16 12 2013

Starting on 7 December and ending on the 16 December, the Geminid meteor shower is for many the highlight of the meteor shower calendar in 2013.

The peak of the Geminid meteor shower took place on 13-14 December, when you could see more than 50 meteors per hour. The Geminids is different to other meteor showers as its meteors originate from an asteroid, as opposed to a comet, meaning they are very rocky and gritty, making them slightly easier to see than other meteor showers.

Ahead of the peak of the meteor shower, we held a Twitter interview with Adrian from Meteorwatch where you sent in your questions and the top five got an answer. In case you missed the interview and Adrian’s excellent answers, you can see them in full below:

Below is our infographic about the Geminid meteor shower. To find out when other meteor events are taking place, visit the Meteorwatch website.


Our change in the weather and how the jet stream is driving it

13 12 2013

After a quiet spell of weather courtesy of a slow moving area of high pressure, we are now entering an unsettled period as a series of Atlantic depressions are expected to pass close to the northwest of Britain during the next week.

High pressure has now moved away and is settled over Europe and a powerful jet stream is developing over the Atlantic which will be the main driving force behind this spell of unsettled weather.

What is the jet stream?

The jet stream is a band of fast moving westerly winds high up in the atmosphere which circle around the pole in the northern hemisphere. It can feature winds of up to 200 knots (230 mph) or more, and these winds tend to guide wet and windy weather systems which come in off the Atlantic.

The jet moves around a fair bit and its position can have a big impact on weather here in the UK depending on where it is.

If the jet is over the UK or just to the south, we tend to get a lot of wet and windy conditions as it brings weather systems straight to us. If the jet is to the north of us, it guides that changeable weather away to the north to leave the UK with more settled conditions.

What’s the jet stream doing now?

Unsurprisingly given the outlook for the next week, with a succession of Atlantic depressions passing by to the northwest of Scotland, the jet is positioned to the northwest of the UK too.

As you can see from the picture below, the jet currently swoops east from Canada – swinging northeast over the Atlantic towards the UK.

Forecast position of jet stream at midday Saturday 14 December 2013

Forecast position of jet stream at midday Saturday 14 December 2013

Closer to the ground very cold air is also streaming south from Canada and meeting warm air moving north from the Caribbean. It is where these two air masses meet under the jet stream that powerful Atlantic depressions form and are blown across the ocean towards our shores.

It is these depressions that bring a significant risk of severe gales and heavy rain affecting at least the northwest of the UK at times.

What’s the weather outlook?

Currently, Met Office National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued for wind across some northwestern and northern areas for the weekend. Gusts of 60-70 mph are likely with a risk of gusts to 80 mph or more across exposed parts of northwest Scotland.

However, at this stage there remains uncertainty regarding the extent of the strongest winds and these warnings will be updated as the weather develops over the weekend.

Looking ahead, while we expect further depressions to develop it is not possible to say exactly how vigorous they may be or pinpoint where they will be in a week’s time. This means it is too early to say which areas will experience the strongest winds and heaviest rain, however there are indications that  areas further to the south of the UK may be affected at times.

You can stay up to date with what to expect with our detailed forecasts out to 5-days and our weather warnings, as well as a general view of what we expect out to 30 days and find out what to do in severe weather

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


Overnight minimum temperatures

11 12 2013

As forecast, last night Scotland saw warmer temperatures than any other part of the country, with overnight maximum temperatures of 16.2 °C recorded in Ross and Cromarty. In fact, many parts of Scotland saw warmer temperatures overnight than they did during the daytime.

Maximum overnight temperatures Tuesday 11 December 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Achnagart Ross & Cromarty 16.2
Kinlochewe        Ross & Cromarty 15.2
Altnaharra No 2   Sutherland 14.6
Kinloss  Moray 14.3
Lossiemouth Moray 14.2
Cluanie Inn No 3  Ross & Cromarty 14.2
Drumnadrochit Inverness-shire 14.1
Aultbea No 2      Ross & Cromarty 14
Resallach    Sutherland 13.8
Skye, Lusa Western Isles 13.7

Not everywhere was so warm with some areas in the southern part of the UK recording several degrees below freezing.

Lowest minimum temperatures Tuesday 11 December 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Pershore Hereford & Worcester -3.1
Shoreham Airport West Sussex -3.1
Goudhurst Kent -3.0
Wiggonholt West Sussex  -2.9
Frittenden Kent  -2.6
Hurn Dorset -2.2
Kew Gardens Greater London  -2.0
Northolt Greater London -2.0
Charlwood Surrey -1.9
Odiham Hampshire -1.9

More mild temperatures are forecast in Scotland over the next few nights, before it becomes slightly more unsettled, particularly in the North of the UK. See your local forecast and temperature range on our website.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,420 other followers

%d bloggers like this: