Record low temperature for the UK this millennium

Overnight the recorded minimum temperature at the weather station at Braemar dropped to -23.0°C, one of three stations in the UK to dip below minus 20.0°C. With the media reporting on the ‘extreme’ conditions, we have analysed our records since 1961 for temperatures dropping below that threshold to observe the trend and to put last night’s records into a longer-term context.

Frequency of very cold nights in the UK

Last night’s temperature at Braemar (11 February 2021) was the lowest recorded in the UK since 1995.

Minus 20.0°C is extreme cold. In fact it is even 2.0°C colder than the recommended temperature for the inside of a domestic freezer. So experiencing temperatures below -20.0°C in the UK are not common and not usually widespread.

Dr Mark McCarthy is the head of the National Climate Information Centre. He said: “The records from last night help to put the UK’s climate into context. For example, for all its roar, temperatures of below -20.0°C weren’t recorded during the Beast from the East during the end of February and the beginning of March 2018. But that event was certainly extreme by other measures, including widespread low daytime temperatures.

“Before this week we’d have to go back to December 2010 to see days where the UK temperature falls below minus 20.0°C. In that year eight days saw temperatures below that value.”

Since 1990, four years have recorded days below minus 20.0°C, but in the 30-year period up to 1990, 14 years reached that level.

Mark McCarthy added: “Temperatures of this level have always been extreme events in the UK, but what our records show is that these events have become less frequent. However, the UK’s climate record displays a huge range of natural variation and even though our climate has warmed by approximately 1.0°C, there is still the possibility of a severe cold-weather event: they’re just not as regular as they used to be.”

The lowest temperature recorded in the UK is -27.2°C on 30 December 1995, at Altnaharra; and on 10 January 1982, at Braemar.

From today temperatures are not expected to dip below minus 20.0°C as warmer conditions start to push in from the Atlantic reaching all parts of the UK by Monday.

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Multiple drivers create challenges for forecasting weather direction

How times change. This time last year, we were in the early days of a month which went on to become the wettest February for the UK in a series stretching back to 1862.

Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, which swept in west from the Atlantic, brought a large proportion of the month’s total rainfall on moisture-laden and relatively warm winds

So will February 2021 follow a similar pattern? Met Office weather presenter Aidan McGivern said: “What we have started with this month is a different pattern, especially in the north, with more of an easterly influence than one from the west, and there are several reasons for this, but the major factor is the strength of the westerly flow, which has and is being influenced by opposing climate drivers.”

A key driver of winter weather in the UK and Western Europe is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) – a measure of average atmospheric pressure difference between an area of high pressure near the Azores and the semi-resident low pressure between Iceland and Greenland. Aidan McGivern said: “This sounds complicated, but what you have to remember is that when the pressure difference is greater than average you have a so-called positive NAO which steers low-pressure systems toward the east across the Atlantic; a negative NAO slows down the flow, and can even reverse it completely by bringing the flow from the east. That is the prospect, a much colder prospect, that we see in the forecast for at least a few days from the weekend.”

So as the NAO is a principal determinant of the UK’s weather in winter, what drivers can affect the NAO? Aidan McGivern continued: “When meteorologists are trying to gain an insight into longer-term forecasts it is like trying to work out who is going to win a marathon. You can study the form of individual athletes but on the day any number of factors can determine the outcome: and, of course, the favourite doesn’t always win because of the ‘chaos’ inherent within a sporting event, or the atmosphere.”

In meteorological terms there are a number of influences that can affect the positive or current negative phase of the NAO and they can all play out at different timescales.

Atmospheric events even as far away as the tropical Pacific can exert an influence on the strength, shape and position of the jet stream and subsequently the NAO.

As this winter approached, La Niña – the cool phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation – was taking place. La Niña has historically been linked to colder conditions during late autumn and early winter followed by increased rainfall and milder conditions during the second half of winter.

However, as winter progressed, it soon became apparent that other drivers would provide an opposing influence to La Niña and at shorter timescales.

Often a big driver for affecting the phase of the NAO is a Sudden Stratospheric Warming, where a breakdown of the Stratospheric Polar Vortex (SPV) – a ring of westerly winds high up in the stratosphere – causes a disturbance and a potential reversal of direction which can influence the jet stream below, causing it kink and buckle. An SSW event in early January helped to disrupt the jet stream and contribute towards a south-shifted Atlantic storm track during recent weeks. The SPV has not yet recovered and so can still exert an influence.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is an eastward-moving phase of enhanced tropical rainfall that primarily affects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and occurs on weekly to monthly timescales. When rainfall is enhanced in the West Pacific, it has been shown to lead to weather patterns close to the UK that induce a greater chance of cold weather during winter. At the start of this week, the MJO moved into an active phase over the West Pacific. A strengthening high pressure block to the north of the UK during the next few days, helping to push the Atlantic storm track even further south and resulting in easterly winds, is consistent with what might be expected from this phase of the MJO.

Aidan concluded: “In recent years, meteorologists have become more aware of the many different influences on the UK’s winter weather – from the stratospheric polar vortex to rainfall patterns in the tropics. Some influences, such as La Niña, can be identified well ahead of the start of winter. Others, such as the MJO, operate on much shorter timescales. Add into the mix the inherent chaos of the weather and you’ve got all the ingredients for a particularly challenging forecast.”

Paul Davies is the Met Office’s Chief Meteorologist and he has the ultimate responsibility for production of the forecast. He said: “Our team of meteorologists have the complex task of producing a forecast taking into account not only the global drivers, but also looking at effects closer to home.

“Some of the differences in the forecast can be quite marginal depending on exactly the area in focus. For example, in Scotland you may have coastal communities lashed by heavy rain, whereas their inland and uphill neighbours may notice a marked change from heavy rain to snow. But all of these weather conditions present hazards, but communities rely on the Met Office to cope with the ever-changing and multi-hazard nature of winter weather and produce a forecast which helps to keep people safe.”

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Coldest January since 2010, but not exceptional by historical standards

January, with an average temperature of 2.2 °C, has been the coldest January across the UK since 2010. In that year the average UK January temperature was 0.9 °C; the coldest January on record was 1963 with a mean temperature of -1.9 °C. It has also been the coldest calendar month since March 2013 which also recorded an average temperature of 2.2 °C.

Dr Mark McCarthy is the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre (NCIC). He said: “January 2021 has been dominated by colder-than-average weather with only brief milder interludes, but what does this cold winter mean in the context of climate change and a warming planet? Well, a winter month as cold or colder than January 2021 used to occur in approximately seven out of ten winters through the 20th Century. In more recent decades this has dropped to around three in ten. So although we are still subject to cold weather in winter, these cold spells tend not to be as severe or as frequent as in the past.”

Maximum temperature  Minimum temperature
Provisional January figures Actual °C Difference from Jan average °C Actual °C Difference from Jan average °C
UK 4.9 -1.5 -0.5 -1.4
England 5.7 -1.2 0.2 -1.1
Wales 5.9 -0.9 0.6 -0.9
Scotland 3.1 -2.1 -2.1 -2.1
Northern Ireland 5.8 -1.3 0.1 -1.3

Figure 1: Mean temperature across the UK during January 2021

A recently published study by Met Office scientists has also shown that the likelihood of experiencing extreme high winter temperatures, such as those in February 2019, has increased substantially. Mark added: “Taken together the evidence from recent UK winters is consistent with the overall effect of climate change leading to milder winters, less frequent cold extremes, and higher winter temperature records for the UK.”

The Met Office temperature series dates back to 1884, and last month struggles to get into the 30 coldest UK Januarys.

The coldest part of the UK relative to normal was Scotland with the average January temperature recording 0.6 °C. Tim Legg of the NCIC added: “A strong northerly flow was a main driver in bringing Scotland’s relatively low temperatures, but although they were the lowest on average since 2010, the northerly flow also brought substantial sunshine to Scotland for the time of year, marking a distinct contrast with England and Wales, which saw much less by comparison.”

Provisional January figures Actual sunshine in hours % of the January average   
UK 44.7 95
England 42.5 78
Wales 34.4 71
Scotland 48.6 136
Northern Ireland 57.5 129

Figure 2: Sunshine duration across the UK during January 2021

With 48.6 hours of sunshine on average, January 2021 saw Scotland experiencing its fourth sunniest January since records began in 1919. By comparison south east and central southern England experienced on average 35 hours of actual sunshine during the month, which is about 60% of the sunshine recorded during a typical January.

Tim Legg said: “The differences in sunshine figures between the north and south of the UK during January are quite marked. During winter day length is longer in southern England than in Scotland, and that is usually reflected in the sunshine figures. But this January we have seen a marked difference with the hours of actual sunshine increasing from south to north.”


The combined totals of rain and snow across the UK reveal that January 2021 wasn’t an exceptional month for the UK overall. But the UK figure does not represent the complete picture. Mark McCarthy added: “Several areas of England and Scotland saw more than double the amount of rainfall for a typical January, and Loftus in North Yorkshire had more than three times its normal January rainfall. Elsewhere East Lothian in Scotland and several East Midlands and north-western areas of England recorded double their average precipitation.”

The wettest areas by amount of rain were in north Wales and north-west England, with in excess of 200 mm through the month, a significant proportion of which was rainfall associated with storm Christoph from 18th to 20th.

Provisional January figures Actual rainfall % of the January average   
UK 136.6mm 113
England 124.0mm 150
Wales 208.4mm 133
Scotland 141.0mm 80
Northern Ireland 119.1mm 102

Figure 3: Precipitation (including rain and snow) across the UK during January 2021

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Are we going to see more hot winter days like we did in February 2019?

A recent study by the Met Office reviewed the question of whether exceeding 40°C is now within the possibilities of the UK climate, after experiencing a record-breaking temperature of 38.7°C in July 2019. The results showed that under a high emissions scenario, where the world takes no action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the UK could see 40°C days as frequently as every 3-4 years.

The research prompts further investigation into the UK’s warming climate – particularly in light of record-breaking winter temperatures, whereby Kew Gardens experienced a record-breaking temperature of 21.2°C on 26th Feb 2019. In a new study, the Met Office Hadley Centre’s Dr Nikolaos Christidis and Professor Peter Stott review these extraordinary warm temperatures. Their work has been published in a special report on ‘Explaining Extremes of 2019 from a Climate Perspective’ by The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). This special report presents assessments of how human-caused climate change may have affected the strength and likelihood of individual extreme events.

The research by the Met Office Hadley Centre is two-fold, reviewing the role that atmospheric state has on such extreme events, and then investigating the role that anthropogenic warming has on the likelihood of warm winter days.

The graph shows the warmest day in winter in central England over time relative to 1901/02–1930/31 averaging period, this time period was used as attribution studies prefer to use baselines as close to the pre-industrial climate as possible, the available model data start in 1900. Observations are plotted in blue. The medium emissions scenario (RCP4.5) projections range is in red. The yellow line shows the average of projections.

In February 2019 strong anticyclonic conditions brought warm tropical maritime air over western parts of the UK. These conditions alone can raise UK winter temperatures over 20°C, even without the effect of human influence on climate.

However, 2019’s anomaly on 26th February is +5.2°C warmer than baseline conditions set over 1901-1930. This is 1.5 times higher than the previous warm record (+3.5°C), and six times higher than the 1900-2018 warming (+0.87°C), begging the question: Does anthropogenic warming under a medium emissions scenario (RCP4.5) influence the likelihood of the extreme event?

Extreme years like 2018/19 are currently very rare with return times (how often we would expect a threshold to be passed) of the order of a thousand years. However, when considering anthropogenic climate change, they become increasingly common, expected to occur once or twice a century by 2100. The chance of a winter day warmer than 20°C becomes 300 times more likely. This risk is expected to increase if we consider an emissions scenario greater than RCP4.5.

There is also an aspect of the intensity of extremes to consider: events as rare as 2018/19 presently correspond to a +5.2°C anomaly, increasing to +7°C by 2100, so winter heat extreme could not only be more frequent, but also more severe.

Dr Nikolaos Christidis summarises, “As well as summer heat extremes, we now see evidence of winter heat extremes in the UK being influenced by human induced climate change. Under a medium emissions scenario, the warm winter of 2018/2019 is up to 300 times more likely. However, if carbon emissions are limited, so too may the frequency and intensity of warm winter events.”

This evidence is consistent with the headline findings from the UKCP18 climate projections, taking the overall effect of anthropogenic climate change into account, milder winters are expected in the UK, with less frequent cold extremes and new high temperature records. The findings from this research are important to help the UK plan for future extremes, informing effective adaptation and mitigation strategies to limit impacts of climate change on UK society now and in the future.

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A day in the life of a Mobile Met Unit Meteorologist

Dave is a Senior Operational Meteorologist with the Mobile Met Unit (MMU) deployed on Operation TORAL, the British element of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

The MMU is a Sponsored Reserve unit of the Royal Air Force (RAF) comprised of Met Office meteorologists and engineers. Dave tells us about life on deployment and what the MMU means to him.

My role on Operation Toral is to provide meteorological support to the rotary aviation detachment in Kabul.  As such, my day is dictated chiefly by the flying programme, working as part of operations to maximize efficiency whilst preserving flight safety.

Daily Routine

On a standard day, I will be in the office 3 hours before take-off, which can provide some rather early starts, before briefing the aircrew on the day ahead. Once the aircrew are airborne, my focus shifts to the next day to advise shaping of the programme where possible to avoid any likely delays owing to weather.

By the nature of operations, events are subject to change, so I remain in the office to advise of upcoming weather impacts through the medium term or update the brief if short notice changes of task occur. During flying, I keep an eye on the current weather to ensure any developments or change of forecast are made known to the operations room, engineers and aircrew.

As Operation Toral is a well-founded detachment, conditions are not too dissimilar from working in an office in the UK, except for the sidearm on my hip and tourniquet in my pocket! However, everyone from the Senior Aircraftman on their first tour to the squadron boss never forgets our task or the ever-present threat in country, as it is our role to minimize road moves around theatre to keep our people safe and to support the ongoing NATO training mission.

Creating the forecast

Formulating the forecast is similar to the process you’d go through anywhere.  It starts with assessing a mixture of observations, including a weather balloon ascent and satellite imagery, together with weather models from the Met Office and other national centres, alongside broad guidance from Met Office Headquarters in Exeter. The difference being you’re the only Met Office forecaster for a couple of thousand miles in a data sparse area, so the model isn’t as refined and the best guidance will still be fairly broad so you have to use your own initiative and experience if a sudden decision comes your way.

Background activities include recording statistics and commenting on model performance and guidance to help improve the next iteration of the model, with the MMU presenting a unique viewpoint compared to the UK centric bulk of Met Office operations.

As the afternoon presses on, weather conditions that may deteriorate into the night are reassessed, notably smog, snow or surface ice in the winter, and if required I will be preparing to brief any night flying alongside some prep work for the coming day’s forecast. Then there are some additional external forecasts for the airbridge between the UK and theatre to send to the UK alongside a radio piece for the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).

Fit to fight

Fitness is always a priority in the military so running laps or a quick trip to the COVID-Secure outdoor gym is encouraged, although as Kabul occasionally steals the title of most polluted air in the world during the winter, most prefer to go mid-afternoon as the smog is at its most dispersed!

The day concludes with a debrief for the aircrew – an opportunity to review the day, where I get the aircrew’s experience of the weather as they encountered it, enabling a better understanding of local meteorological effects and a better forecast in future.

Finally, it’s off to the D-Fac (that’s dining facility to you) for dinner, then off to my bunk to catch the folks back home (4.5 hours behind Afghan) thanks to the good internet – another bonus of a well-founded base, which is never a guarantee! Then it’s to bed and repeat until your replacement flies in.

What does the MMU mean to me?

For me, the Mobile Met Unit is the best of the Met Office in one place, the opportunity to work where your output immediately impacts the outcome, and that outcome matters. It is a role where a high degree of autonomy is required, but one where the whole Met Office from the guidance unit to the science department is on hand to help if you need it. Nonetheless, where time allows, I have been involved in charity runs, festive football matches, many a dry pub quiz and even some seriously amateur volleyball; it is a step apart from life in the UK but you are doing so as part of a team, working as part of the RAF, and it builds a great sense of camaraderie – I truly enjoy working with them.

Pictured is a Puma HC.Mk 2 helicopter normally based at RAF Benson in Oxford, currently serving in Kabul, Afghanistan on Op TORAL. The helicopter provides transport and support to coalition personnel based in and around Kabul. The aircraft is used in a variety of combat roles, including the tactical movement of troops, weapons, ammunition and stores on the battlefield, as well as the extraction of casualties and in response to medical emergencies on the frontline. It is also employed during non-combatant evacuations, and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
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Why the beast from the east is unlikely to roar.

A sudden stratospheric warming high in the atmosphere early in January has led to reports a so called ‘Beast from the East’ is heading our way and speculation of extreme cold weather to come.

A sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) sees a rise in temperature and change in wind direction in the atmosphere high above the Arctic. This happens at an altitude of about 30 km so has a delayed influence on weather at the earth’s surface. We usually start to see knock-on effects on the jet stream a couple of weeks later, which can in turn affect the day to day weather across Europe and the UK.

Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Paul Davies, said; “The unsettled, wintry weather forecast for next week is consistent with the expected effects of an SSW and there is a chance there could be more snow in parts of the UK and Europe.

“However, the winds will be generally from a northerly direction not from the east, as cold air from Scandinavia is drawn across the UK. So perhaps not a Beast from the East but normal wintry weather from the north.”

The cold northerly air is likely to be once again held to the east side of the UK as milder air pushes in from the west. Where these two air masses meet weather fronts will bring rain, which could be heavy at times and turn to snow, especially over higher ground. This suggests the potential for big differences in the weather across the UK next week, with temperatures most likely to be rather cold for the north and near-or slightly above-average across the south. There is always uncertainty when conflicting air masses meet, however, so some cold spells can’t be ruled out here also.

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Fingerprints of climate change on UK weather in 2020

2020 was a remarkable year for our climate, with the year being the UK’s third warmest, sixth wettest and eighth sunniest in the UK national series, extending back to 1884, 1862 and 1919, respectively.
An attribution study looking at the temperatures for 2020 has been produced by the Met Office using peer-reviewed methods. The result is available on Carbon Brief. It suggests that without human-induced climate change, a year as warm as 2020 in the UK would have a likelihood of 1.1 % (uncertainty range 0.9 % – 1.3 %), or around one year in 90. For the present day climate the likelihood estimate increases by around a factor of 50, to 56% (range 53 % – 58 %) suggesting an expectation that we would now expect around half of years to exceed the warmth of 2020.
The impact of climate change on total annual rainfall for the UK is less clear than for temperature. This is a consequence of the high variability in rainfall over the UK, and also because climate change is most likely to result in wetter winters and drier summers overall, change which will consequently be less obvious in an annual total. However the likelihood of years as wet as 2020 is increasing, and is expected to continue to do so through the 21st Century.
Dr Mark McCarthy is the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. He said: “The dominance of above average temperatures throughout the year are clearly apparent, with notable warm spells in April, June, August, and November. Only July and October being cooler than average overall. The exceptional rainfall in late winter followed by the extended dry and sunny spring really dominate the rainfall and sunshine series for the year.”
Dr Nikos Christidis is a senior climate scientist with the Met Office. Nikos, who specialises in climate attribution, said: “An attribution study allows you to run scenarios on climate models using varying concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. By looking at the atmosphere of pre-industrial times you can see that the high annual mean temperature of 2020 would have been quite a rare event. But with today’s levels of greenhouse gases we can expect temperatures of this level to occur slightly more frequently than one year in two. In future this will increase further.”
Dr Mark McCarthy added: “Our weather is playing out on a background of ongoing global climate change. It is therefore no surprise at all that the UK climate is also continuing to change as a result. The UK has warmed by close to 1.0 °C, comparable to the global rise in mean temperature.”

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New year begins with a sudden stratospheric warming

Meteorologists are already able to note a significant atmospheric observation in their 2021 diaries with the beginning of a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW), which started over the weekend – this was forecast last week.

A SSW sees cold air descending above the Arctic, resulting in warming by as much as 50°C. This is in association with a significant weakening or reversal of westerly winds circulating around the North Pole between 10 and 50 km above the ground – the stratospheric polar vortex.

Professor Adam Scaife – head of long-range prediction at the Met Office – said: “As predicted, atmospheric observations are now showing that the Arctic stratosphere is undergoing a sudden warming event associated with a weakening stratospheric polar vortex.”

During these events the vortex can break down completely, and when this happens the disruption in the stratosphere can trigger a shift from westerly to easterly winds which can be followed by lower-altitude winds shifting in the same direction. On average 70 percent of occasions see this switch to easterly conditions at ground level, with the resulting cold and easterly shift in our weather.

Matthew Lehnert is an Expert Operational Meteorologist with the Met Office. He said: “Although the prolonged cold spell and snow events in February and March of 2018 – dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ by the UK media – were linked to a sudden stratospheric warming, the record warm spell that occurred in February 2019 also followed such an event.”

Paul Davies is the Met Office’s Chief Meteorologist. He added: “We can’t completely rule out a signal for colder weather following this SSW event later in the month. However, evidence from model data and other drivers of the UK weather support a return to relatively milder and more unsettled conditions next week.”

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Opposing forces battle for winter supremacy

The second half of December has seen dramatic swings between different weather patterns. Storm Bella brought strong winds and flooding, while the current flow of air from the north is bringing colder conditions with ice and some snow across the UK. With dramatic changes in weather over the last two weeks, what is the pattern for the first half of January?

We expect the northerly feel to continue into the new year, however, as we look further ahead there are currently conflicting meteorological signals. To gain an understanding of the longer-term outlook forecasters need to look at signals from around the globe.

Adam Scaife, Head of Met Office long-range prediction, said: “Our latest forecasts now show that a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) is expected in the first week of January which will maintain the chances of colder weather throughout the coming month.

“During an SSW intense warming occurs high in the atmosphere at around 30km above the North Pole. This is accompanied by a complete reversal of the winds that circulate around the Arctic at high altitude and the mean wind direction switches from the usual strong winter westerlies to easterlies.

“The easterlies at high altitude then slowly burrow down towards the lower atmosphere where our weather occurs. This process increases the chances of colder weather right across Northern Europe for several weeks after the event first occurs high the stratosphere.”

Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Davies said: “It’s important to note that not all SSWs lead to colder-than-normal conditions over the UK and there are other global weather factors that can impact our winter weather. This year they include a La Nina.

“During La Nina the second half of the winter in the UK tends to be dominated by milder and wetter conditions which come from the Atlantic on an invigorated jet stream. In effect, we have two opposing forces for winter supremacy at play; the SSW and La Nina.

In the meantime, and consistent with a SSW in early January, our current 6-30 day forecast points to the  likelihood of the cold conditions experienced recently continuing through January.”

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A dry but rather dull month

Mild and dry might not be the first thing you think of looking back at November as we have seen the first significant frosts of the season in England and Wales, but the month for the UK as a whole has had its sixth warmest November (for Mean Temperature) in a series that goes back to 1884.

The east and north-east coast of England has experienced relatively dry conditions over the month having only seen half of its average rainfall for the month. Tyne and Wear has had its driest November in 60 years, receiving only 24% (16.7mm) of its monthly average rainfall. The driest November on record for Tyne and Wear was in 1958 seeing 14.2mm of rainfall. This November is now the second driest November on record for Tyne and Wear, which was also the driest area in the UK.

Tim Legg, a scientist in the National Climate Information Centre, said: “For the UK as a whole it was a rather dry, but also rather dull month. The dryness in eastern counties, most especially Tyne and Wear, has been due to the prevalence of westerly winds during November, and these dry areas are to the lee of the Pennines. The westerly or south-westerly winds are generally moist, but most of the moisture comes out as rain over windward-facing hills – especially the Lake District and Pennines – and hence the air is relatively dry as it descends towards the east coast.  Also at play to some extent is the Foehn or “Föhn” effect, where the drier air warms as it descends.”

The start of November saw a continuation of the very unsettled spell with which October had concluded, with significant rain in many areas. Things then settled down with a cold snap between 4th and 6th, bringing the first notable frosts for much of England and Wales. It soon became milder again with low-pressure systems being held to the west as pressure was higher over the Continent. Towards mid-month it became more widely unsettled again, with some heavier falls of rain in places but remaining very mild.  


East and north-east England was the driest district, receiving only 51% (39.7mm) of its rainfall, Tyne and Wear recording the lowest in the area making it their second driest November on record. Surrounding areas in east and north-east England also received much lower than average rainfall totals, including Durham at 55% (50.2mm), Northumberland 49% (46.1mm), and Lincolnshire 39% (22.7mm).

In contrast, Northern Ireland has been the only region to exceed its average monthly rainfall with 106% (119.1mm), and County Fermanagh recording 129% (154.3mm).

Lower than average rainfall is a theme for November with many other areas across the UK also being much drier, including: Aberdeenshire 42% (47.3mm), Angus 52% (59.6mm), Banffshire 44% (49.1mm), Bedfordshire 58% (34.6mm), Berwickshire 47% (37.5mm), Caithness 49% (57.9mm), Cambridgeshire 52% (27.9mm), City of Aberdeen 29% (26.5), East Riding of Yorkshire 37% (23.2mm),  Kincardineshire 44% (45.7mm), Leicestershire 56% (34.1mm), Moray 48% (39mm), Norfolk 57% (37.8mm), Nottinghamshire 47% (26.6mm) and South Yorkshire 48% (34.7mm).

The counties with the most rainfall relative to the monthly average were: Argyll and Bute 126% (283.3mm), Ayrshire and Arran 112% (182.2mm), Cumbria 114% (176.9mm), Dunbartonshire 116% (226.3mm), Lanarkshire 111% (142.6mm), Renfrewshire 114% (193.6mm), Stirling and Falkirk 118% (239.2mm) and Western Isles 110% (190.3mm).

Provisional November figuresActual rainfall% of the November average   
Northern Ireland119.1mm106


Sunshine for most this month has been below or close to the monthly average, but south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland were the dullest areas (western Scotland 69%, 34.6 hours and Northern Ireland 74%, 39.7 hours). The only districts to reach 100% of the monthly sunshine hours were northern Scotland 110% (38.1 hours) and East Anglia 107% (72.6 hours).

Individual counties that experienced a rather dull month were Ayrshire and Arran with 57% (29.8 hours) of their monthly average, City of Glasgow 56% (31.2 hours), Dunbartonshire 59% (30.6 hours), and Renfrewshire 54% (29.8 hours).

Provisional November figuresActual sunshine in hours% of the November average   
Northern Ireland39.774


Temperatures for the UK were around 1.5°C above average in November, which has contributed to the autumn season finishing around half a degree warmer than average. The warmest county relative to average was East Sussex with a mean temperature anomaly of +2.1 °C above average. Tyne and Wear was not far behind with a mean temperature of +1.9°C above average for the month.

Maximum temperature  Minimum temperature
Provisional November figuresActual °CDifference from Nov average °CActual °CDifference from Nov average °C 
Northern Ireland10. 

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