2014 has been another year of eventful weather across the UK. Here we take a look at some of the year’s more notable aspects.
The obvious headline from 2014 is that it will be the warmest year in our UK record dating back to 1910, knocking 2006 from its top spot.
Using figures up to 28 December then assuming average conditions for the last three days of the year, the expected mean temperature for the UK is 9.9 °C. This beats the previous record of 9.7 °C set in 2006 and means all the UK’s top eight warmest years have happened since 2002.
Despite the overall warmth, there were no record-breaking months – it’s just a case that 11 out of 12 months (August being the exception) were warmer than average. Although individual months were unremarkable, it was the persistence of the warmth that was unusual and together they add up to something record-breaking.
It’s also worth noting it’s set to be the warmest year on record in the Met Office’s Central England Temperature (CET) series, which dates all the way back to 1659. The mean temperature estimate for the year is 11.0 °C, which would just beat the record of 10.9 °C set in 2006.
Human influence on the climate is likely to have substantially increased the chance of breaking the UK and CET temperature records. Estimates from the Met Office suggest that it has become about ten times more likely for the UK record to be broken as a result of human influence on the climate.
It has also been a notably wet year, with the rainfall up to 28 December totalling 1290.0 mm. This ranks 2014 as the UK’s 5th wettest year in the records back to 1910 and it is only 5mm away from 4th placed 2008, so this year could step a notch higher when the final two days of the year are included.
The first two months of the year really set us on the path to this high rainfall total, as both January and February were the third wettest in the record. The winter of 2013/2014 was especially wet across south-east England and it was the wettest winter for the UK in a series from 1910, and in the England and Wales precipitation series from 1766.
May, August, October and November were also all wetter than average. August was especially wet in northern Scotland – here it was the wettest August in a series from 1910. The other months were mostly drier than average, with September being notably dry – in fact it was the driest month on record for the UK in a series from 1910 with just 22.1 mm of rain.
Weather through the months
The year started with two spells of very wet and stormy weather from mid-December to early January, and late January to mid-February, as one deep low pressure system followed another. These brought extremely strong winds and heavy rain to all parts of the country, with widespread disruption across the UK.
A number of factors contributed to the unusually stormy weather, particularly the influence of a powerful Atlantic Jet Stream. You can see more about these in a report written by the Met Office. You can also explore the evolution of this spell of weather in our climate events pages.
The start of spring saw the weather calm down – with March bringing some much-needed drier and more settled weather. The spring (March – April – May) was warmer than average, while rainfall for spring ended up very close to average, which helped the UK recover from its wettest winter on record.
June and July saw a good deal of dry and fine weather, with above average temperatures and sunshine hours combining with below average rainfall. Although there were no major heatwaves, these months made for one of the better periods of summer weather that we’ve seen in recent years; summer 2013 also brought plenty of fine, settled weather in contrast to summers 2007 to 2012.
August was more unsettled, however, with above average rainfall and it was the only month of the year with below average temperatures. On 10th August the remants of ex-hurricane Bertha brought heavy rain and some flooding to parts of north-east Scotland.
September then immediately turned the tables, being exceptionally dry with above average temperatures. However, October and November brought some more typically autumnal weather and the autumn (Sep-Oct-Nov) ended up being fairly average overall, although again it was notably mild and with a marked absence of frosts.
December has seen the coldest temperatures of the year so far for all parts of the UK, but the lowest values for the year remain unusually high compared to previous years. The month so far (using figures up to the 28th of the month) has also been milder than average overall, despite the late cold snap. Rainfall looks set to be around average, while sunshine amounts are well above the norm.
Some 2014 extremes:
Max temp – 32.3 °C at Gravesend, Kent on 18 July. This is fairly typical: during most years we would expect the temperature to reach the low 30s in a few locations.
Min temp – -9.0 °C at Cromdale, in Moray, Scotland on 27 December. By contrast, this is unusually mild. During most winters we would expect the temperature to fall below -10 °C, if not -15 °C, most likely in Highland Scotland.
Max wind gust – 109mph at the Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight on 14 February
Wettest day – 146.8 of rain at Ennerdale, Black Sail, Cumbria on 6 March 2014. The high fells of the English Lake District are climatologically one of the wettest parts of the UK.