How wet has 2012 been? Is it a record breaker?

27 12 2012

Provisional figures from the Met Office from 1 January to 26 December 2012 show that some parts of the UK have already had their wettest year on record.

New records have been set in England (1095.8 mm), northern England (1253 mm), E and NE England (1042.1 mm), Midlands (1048.2 mm), and East Anglia (788 mm), in a series that goes back to 1910.

A further 46 mm of rain is needed from 27 to 31 December for this to be the wettest year on record for the UK overall – the UK has had 1291.2 mm of rain from 1 January to 26 December. The wettest year on record for the UK is 2000 with 1337.3 mm.

2012 rainfall anomaly 1 Jan to 26 Dec

2012 rainfall anomaly 1 Jan to 26 Dec

In terms of temperature and sunshine the year as a whole is set to be unremarkable, both being around normal. However, overall 2012 is set to be cooler than 2011, but warmer than 2010.

  mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1 January to 26 December 2012 Actual Difference from 1981-2010 average Actual Percentage of 1981-2010 average Actual Percentage of 1981-2010 average
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 8.7 -0.1 1354.1 99 1291.2 112
England 9.5 -0.1 1467.1 98 1095.8 128
Wales 9.1 -0.1 1354.0 97 1649.5 113
Scotland 7.3 -0.1 1186.8 100 1546.3 98
N Ireland 8.9 0.0 1234.0 98 1134.8 100
England & Wales 9.5 -0.1 1451.5 98 1172.2 125
England N 8.7 -0.1 1357.0 99 1253.0 129
England S 9.9 -0.1 1525.4 98 1012.6 128

More about the record breaking year of 2012

How wet has this September been?

1 10 2012

The latter part of September saw some exceptional rainfall in parts of the UK which caused disruption and flooding at times.

With such a great deal of rain falling in a short period of time, some people have asked whether it will make September one of the wettest in our national records going back to 1910.

Provisional early statistics up to 26 September show this isn’t the case, however, with the month looking set to be slightly wetter than average – but by no means a record breaker.

Up to the 26th, UK rainfall is 96.3 mm – which is 100% of the full month average. After 26 days we would, assuming rain falls fairly evenly through the month, expect this to be around 87%.

Of course, rain doesn’t always fall evenly throughout a month – as we saw this September. The first three weeks saw relatively little rain in many areas, but then a particularly active weather system brought four days of persistent heavy rain.

Northern parts of England were particularly badly affected by this, as you can see in the rainfall map below. In the map you can see a band of blue colours across northern England denoting above average rainfall for the month, whereas much of the country is coloured white to denote near-average amounts.

Two brown areas, one across central Scotland and the other in East Anglia, show it has been drier than average here – even despite the heavy rain in the latter part of the month.


Temperatures up to the 26 September are also fairly ordinary, being slightly below average. Mean temperature for the UK is 12.2 °C, which is 0.5 °C below the long-term average for the month.

While September looks set to be slightly wetter and cooler than average, the good news is sunshine hours were slightly up – with the UK having seen 126.1 hours of sunshine, 101% of its whole-month average.

Again, we’d expect it to be around 87% after 26 days, so we’re ahead – but not by a record-breaking amount.

So this September is set to go down as a fairly average month overall, but – as is often the case – this belies some very stark contrasts and some less-than-usual weather.

Met Office provisional 1-26 September figures
mean temperature sunshine duration rainfall
Actual Difference from 1981-2010 average Actual % of 1981-2010 average Actual % of 1981-2010 average
degC degC hours % mm %
UK 12.2 -0.5 126.1 101 96.3 100
England 13.2 -0.5 145.2 106 80.6 116
Wales 12.1 -0.8 124.5 97 115.3 99
Scotland 10.4 -0.5 98.6 94 117.2 86
N Ireland 11.8 -0.5 105.3 93 94.0 103
England & Wales 13.1 -0.5 142.3 105 85.4 112
England N 12.4 -0.4 124.0 98 121.4 150
England S 13.7 -0.5 156.4 110 59.0 93

Heavy rain in the west but very warm in the south east

17 08 2012

The UK’s weather will see marked contrasts over the next few days – with heavy rain in the west today and very warm weather in the south east.

Forecasters at the Met Office have issued severe weather warnings for the rain across parts of western Britain today.

Rainfall amounts could reach 60 mm or more in parts of Wales and northern England, accompanied by strong winds. This could cause some disruption in places. The rain will ease during the early hours of Saturday morning.

Met Office radar image from 17 August 2012

Met Office radar image from 17 August 2012

In the South East of England, it will be much drier and will become oppressively hot as warm and humid air spreads up from continental Europe.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the high 20s Celsius today and over the weekend, and perhaps even the low 30s Celsius in parts of Kent and East Anglia on Sunday.

It remains to be seen whether the temperature will rise above the hottest seen so far this year, with 30.7 °C at St James’s Park in London on 25 July.

Temperatures on 17 August 2012

Temperatures on 17 August 2012

While it will be mainly dry in the South East, there will be some cloud around and any sunshine will be quite hazy with fog lingering along some coasts. There may even be a few thundery showers later on Sunday.

Met Office Chief Forecaster Martin Young said: “While it will be hot in the South East, we’re not expecting wall-to-wall sunshine and it will feel quite humid and oppressive over the weekend. As we head into next week, south westerly winds will push that humid air away to bring fresher conditions, and showers to north west Britain.”

For the latest information, keep up to date with our online online forecasts and warnings.

Guest blog: It’s raining – why have we still got a drought?

20 04 2012

Trevor Bishop is Head of Water Resources at the Environment Agency. Here he explains why, despite the rain, we are still in a drought.

In true bank holiday spirit the weather turned wet for the Easter holidays and it doesn’t seem to have stopped since. So is there still a drought? The answer is yes – it’s going to take more than a week or two of rain to undo the effects of nearly two years of below average rainfall. The recent rain is good for farmers and gardeners, and the cool temperatures ease the pressure on fish and wildlife in rivers. But with dry soils most of the rain will be soaked up – or, worse still, run off quickly if the surface is compacted, causing flash floods. But it won’t reach down far enough to top up groundwater, which is what we really need.

More rain now will really help us get through the summer, and is good for the environment, farmers and gardeners, but it’s very unlikely to be enough to recharge the groundwater. As we move from spring to summer, most of the rain that falls is either evaporated as temperatures rise or taken up by plants as they grow.

You can keep up to date with the water situation here.  This shows that while river flows have recently risen in western and northern England and in Wales, groundwater and rivers in the south and east remain exceptionally low for this time of year. Much of our tap water in the south east comes from groundwater so it’s still important we use less water, even when it’s raining.

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.


Met Office in the Media: 27 June 2011

27 06 2011

Following an exclusive visit by Clive Cookson, Science Editor at the Financial Times to the Met Office earlier in the Month the FT Weekend Magazine ran “So will it rain tomorrow?”. This explores the role of the Met Office in providing weather forecasts to the nation, focusing on the people and technology that make it all happen.

Along with this, Katie Knapman of BBC Countryfile, reported from the Met Office at Middle Wallop, where we serve the Army Air Corps with forecasts in support of their training.  Within the piece :Katie Knapman points out that:

“Our army helicopters might never get off the ground if it wasn’t for the Met Office so where better to come for a lesson in weather forecasting,”

Katie also points out that in regard to our forecast service that “Lives depend on it”, “Met Office forecasting is critical” and that the Met Office team of forecasters are “Key to the safety of our pilots in the armed forces”.

The feature on the Met Office is available on BBC iPlayer and runs from 30 to 37 minutes into the programme.

The hot weather in parts of the UK this weekend is also causing a lot of interest. Ahead of the weekend we forecast that the hottest weather would peak across parts of East Anglia, the East Midlands and south east England during today.

As forecast. the weekend saw quite varied weather across the UK, with some places having unsettled conditions and temperatures reaching the low 20s, whilst parts of the south and east had warm and sunny weather with early mist and fog.

Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, Andy Page, added: “There is a 60% chance of some places in East Anglia, the East Midlands and south east England reaching 30 °C on Sunday and Monday. However, it is important to note that not all places will see the hot weather. Cooler weather is expected to spread across all parts of the UK by the middle of next week.”

A thundery breakdown is expected across eastern parts this evening with fresher conditions across many areas tomorrow.


Spring rainfall shows big contrasts across the UK

27 05 2011

Provisional Met Office climate figures for spring 2011 indicate that rainfall amounts across the UK have varied widely from north and west to south and east.

Even though further rain is expected across much of the country before the season ends, parts of the east and south are likely to be heading towards their driest spring on record. These records date back more than 100 years to 1910.

For statistical purposes, the meteorological spring is the combined months of March, April and May and provisional figures are from 1 March to 25 May.

The driest region has been East Anglia, where rainfall amounts show that only 17mm of rain has fallen, just 13% of the long term spring average which is 134.9mm.

However, at the opposite of the country, parts of north and west Scotland have had a wet season, with Argyll recording 538.6mm of rain, well above the long term average of 422.0mm.

This table shows rainfall figures for Spring across the UK. All figures are provisional up to 25th May 2011.

Location Actual (mm) 1 March to 25 May Percentage of 1971 to 2000 average Long term spring average (mm)
UK 164.9 mm 71 % 231.7 mm
England 65.4 mm 36 % 179.4 mm
Northern Ireland 180.6 mm 78 % 232.2 mm
Scotland 336.3 mm 111 % 304.1 mm
Wales 128.6 mm 45 % 285.4 mm

This map shows rainfall figures for Spring across the UK as a percentage of the 1971-2000 long term average. All figures are provisional up to 25th May 2011.

Map showing UK rainfall as a percentage of the 1971-2000 long-term average

The big differences in rainfall pattern across the UK, illustrate just how varied the weather can be over the country. ‘Blocked’ weather patterns have kept many southern and eastern counties dry but Atlantic weather systems and their rain-bearing fronts have affected regions further north and west.

Spring featured high temperatures especially during April, helping to make it one of the warmest springs on record. However, with several more days to go we need to wait until next week to see if it becomes a record-breaker.

Across the UK, the Bank Holiday weather forecast looks set to offer rather changeable conditions, with a mixture of bright or sunny spells but also some rain or showers at times.

Forecast for the run up to the Christmas weekend

22 12 2010

The very cold weather will continue for the rest of the week, with the risk of snow decreasing for much of the country.

Met Office forecasters said: “Many places will become drier through Thursday but there is a chance that there could be some snow in parts south east England and further north along the coasts of eastern England.”

Met Office forecasters continued:  “For most places in the run up to Christmas and on the big day itself, we will have a respite from the snow. However, there will some severe frosts and freezing fog patches at night. So, while there will still be snow lying on Christmas Day the day itself is expected to be dry and fine in most parts of the UK. At this stage, only the places that might see snow showers on Christmas Day are eastern parts of East Anglia and Kent”.

Below is a media forecast for use in print publications. All temperatures are in degrees Celsius and represent those likely to be seen in urban areas. Rural areas are likely to be significantly colder at night. For the latest weather forecasts and warnings you should refer to the Met Office website where regional and location based forecasts are available for the next 5 days.

  Southern England Northern England Scotland
Thursday Bright. Some snow showers in east. Windy and feeling very cold.
Max: 1
Min:  minus 5

Bright spells, some snow showers in the east. Feeling very cold.
Max: 1
Min: minus  8

Sunny spells, a few snow showers in the east. Feeling very cold.
Max: Zero
Min: minus 8

Christmas Eve

Bright. Very cold. Possible snow/ showers in east and south east
Max: 1
Min:  minus 5

Bright and very cold. Possible snow showers in east
Max: Zero
Min:  minus 1
Bright and very cold. A few coastal snow showers.
Max: Zero
Min:  minus 8
Christmas Day Dry and bright but risk of snow showers in east. Very cold
Max:  minus 2
Min:  minus 8
Dry and bright but very cold
Max: minus 3
Min:  minus 10

Dry, bright and very cold.
Max:  minus 1
Min:  minus 8

Boxing Day

Bright, risk of further sleet or snow in west.
Max: 1
Min:  minus 5

Bright, risk of further sleet or snow in west.
Max:  minus 1
Min:  minus 10

Dry, bright and very cold.

Max: Zero
Min: minus 6

Christmas Monday

Mainly dry risk of sleet or snow in west

Max: 2

Min: minus 5

Mainly dry and bright but very cold.

Max: Zero

Min: minus 8

Mainly dry and bright but chance of snow in the west.

Max: 2

Min: minus 5

Source: Met Office      



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