A cool July ends with notable heat

July 2020 was looking to be a fairly unremarkable month in terms of climate statistics for the UK, until hot conditions closed the month on the 31st.

Overall it was a cool month, with most days having temperatures below average. Successive low pressure systems brought cloud, rain and predominantly westerly winds across parts of the UK, keeping temperatures down. The UK as a whole was -0.8°C below the long-term (1981-2010) average for the month. As the anomaly map indicates, the south-east of the UK was the only region to get close to average temperatures for July.

One outlier of the July statistics is the maximum temperatures recorded on Friday 31st July. Tim Legg from the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said: “An area of low pressure in the Atlantic acted to draw warm air up from the continent, bringing a day of heat to much of the UK with a particular focus on the south-east. The top temperature recorded was 37.8°C at Heathrow, with Kew Gardens in London close behind with 37.3 °C. This made it the hottest day of the year so far by some margin, and it also measures as the third hottest day on record in the UK.”

The only two hotter days than 31st July were 25th July 2019 when 38.7°C was recorded at Cambridge Botanic Gardens and 10th August 2003 when 38.5°C was recorded at Faversham in Kent.

The heat was short-lived with a cold front moving in from the west making some places 10°C lower the following day. Only Wisley, in Surrey, and Holbeach, in Lincolnshire, reached heatwave criteria, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday just reaching the temperatures required under the definition.



Rainfall was above average across parts of Wales, north-west England and Scotland through the month with some locations in south-west Scotland and north-west England recording more than double the average July rainfall. This is also linked to the successive low pressure systems through the month, a product of the jet stream following a more southerly track than usual for the time of year. In contrast the south coast of England has been somewhat drier than average. West Sussex was the driest county compared to average, with just 52% (27.5mm) of its average rainfall for the month.



Sunshine has been below average at 83% (142.4 hours) overall for the UK. The east of Scotland and south of England saw close to average sunshine. It was particularly dull for Northern Ireland with just 59% (83 hours) of the average sunshine hours. Further evidence of areas of low pressure influencing the UK, especially in the west. The exception has been Shetland which has seen above average sunshine for the month with 136% (172.1 hours) of the long-term average (1981-2010) sunshine.



Provisional July 2020  data Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
Actual  Diff from avg (°C) Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 14.3 -0.8 142.4 83 95.2 122
England 15.6 -0.6 163.9 85 65.1 104
Wales 14.2 -0.9 140.7 79 115.0 124
Scotland 12.2 -1.1 118.0 84 135.4 137
N Ireland 13.6 -1.0 83.0 59 118.8 147

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Helping to forecast water demand during Covid-19

Lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic has brought many changes and challenges to life in the UK.  Government guidance aimed to contain and reduce virus transmission has reshaped our day-to-day lives, from how much electricity we use, to the way we consume water.

Over the last few months, teams at the Met Office have been working with water companies to help identify the changes and trends in water use brought about during lockdown.

Before and after lockdown

Our teams compared water use before lockdown (February to early March) and at the beginning of lockdown (late March to early April).  As can be seen in Figure 1 below, most water companies have seen an increase in average water consumption during lockdown, with companies covering predominantly suburban areas (G and H) seeing the most noticeable increase, whereas companies operating in city areas see a reduction in water use (A).  The data also showed differences between weekday and weekend water consumption largely disappeared.

BG graph 1

Figure 1) Percentage change in daily average base water consumption for ten water companies in early lockdown (late March-early April) compared to before lockdown (February-early March)

Lockdown during March and May coincided with a prolonged spell of sunny, warm and very dry weather, which introduced a ‘fine spring weekend’ effect to every day.  The data suggests water use during this period is more sensitive to weather compared to pre-lockdown, with weather the main driver of day-to-day variations.  For example, an increase in temperature appears to cause a higher rise in water demand than it would pre-lockdown.  Figure 2 below shows an inexorable rise in water use to around 30% above base usage by late May, similar to the peak levels seen during the hot summer of July 2018.

BG graph 2

Figure 2) Percentage change in daily water consumption from average during lockdown. 


“Lots of us are spending more time at home and along with warm weather we’ve seen customers using water differently”, said David Hinton, Chief Executive at South East Water.  “Increased demand for tap water in our area is more akin to patterns we see in an exceptionally hot summer.  More water is being used on DIY projects and gardening which is contributing to the additional 25% of water we’re treating and pumping through our water distribution system.”

Working together to help keep taps flowing

Water demand models do not currently take into account these new water use patterns observed during lockdown.   This has created new operational challenges for water companies, who despite having sufficient water supply in their reservoirs, are unable to treat and pump water fast enough to meet the unexpectedly high demand at peak times.

“By working together with water companies and sharing experiences, we can more accurately analyse the effect of lockdown on water use”, said Nick Law, Senior Account Manager at the Met Office.  “From this the Met Office has produced a ‘COVID’ sensitive model that our colleagues in the water companies involved in this research can use to adjust their demand planning and better anticipate water usage as this new way of life continues.”


What can be done to better prepare for the future?

This year’s summer months may bring particular challenges to water companies, as normal population movements during summer holidays are impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.  Water companies that normally experience a noticeable drop in water use during holidays could experience an increase in water demand, due to a combination of lockdown and spells of warm summer weather.

The challenge now is to understand how peak Summer demand levels can be forecast and managed, to ensure supplies can be maintained” said Ian Savage, Strategic Control Manager at Thames Water. 

Based on modelling during lockdown so far, the Met Office can perform scenario planning for an extended period of lockdown for different weather types in July and August. This will allow the water industry to better anticipate water demand during periods of lockdown restrictions and plan for different weather scenarios, as this new way of life continues.

 Want to find out more? 

If you’re interested in learning more about how we’re helping the water industry forecast and manage water demand, check out our recent article published in Utility Week. 


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Innovative space weather monitoring projects receive UKRI funding

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced funding for five projects focused on improving the UK’s capability to predict and mitigate the hazards of space weather. The projects will incorporate new research to further develop the space weather models used by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.

The projects are part of the first phase of the Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) programme, a £20 million, four-year programme led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The aim is to improve the UK’s capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction.

There will be an emphasis on space radiation, which can affect aircraft systems, changes in the upper atmosphere, affecting communications, satellite orbits and surges in the current of power grids and other ground-level systems. These are significant risks to the infrastructures we rely on in daily life and are recorded in the UK’s National Risk Register.

The five projects are together worth close to £9 million and funded by NERC, which is part of UKRI. Improving the accuracy of predicting when and where space weather events take place should allow the Met Office to issue warnings and advice sooner, allowing operators more time to take necessary action, such as manoeuvring satellites and isolating parts of the power network to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said; “Satellites are fundamental to our everyday lives, underpinning technologies we constantly rely on from mobile phones to GPS. Any disruptions caused by space weather can therefore have a profound impact on businesses and individuals.

“These fantastic projects that we are backing today will enhance the UK’s ability to forecast space weather, enabling our excellent national weather service to defend the technologies we all depend on.”

Met Office Space Weather Operation Centre

Simon Machin, Space Weather Programme Manager at the Met Office, said; “We are very excited by the prospect of working with the crème of UK science and academia on the SWIMMR projects. SWIMMR will deliver a step change in UK space weather monitoring, warning and prediction capability by supporting pull-through of cutting-edge science into operational services. This will enable the Met Office to provide a greater range of more accurate services driven by the needs of users and underpins the UK’s strategic aims to grow and exploit opportunities in the space domain.

“SWIMMR communicates a clear vision of cementing the UK as a world leader in space weather and our thanks go out to all partners and stakeholders for supporting this programme of work.”

Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, said; “SWIMMR is great example of NERC working with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and other partners to support world-leading environmental research, and the funding will maximise the impact and uptake of an essential forecasting service relied upon by Government and businesses. These exciting projects will further our understanding and confirm the UK’s reputation as an international leader in this field.”

The SWIMMR funding programme forms part of the Strategic Priorities Fund, delivered by the UKRI to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation.

The funded projects are:

SWIMMR Theme Project Title Lead organisation Partners 
N1 Satellite risk forecasts Satellite Radiation Risk Forecasts (Sat-Risk) NERC British Antarctic Survey


University of Sheffield

University College London

University of Reading

Imperial College London

N2 Aviation risk forecasts SWIMMR Aviation Risk Modelling (SWARM) University of Surrey NERC British Geological Survey

University College London

University of Central Lancashire

N3 GNSS and HF aviation forecasts Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: Ionosphere (SWIMMR-I) University of Birmingham


University of Bath

University of Leicester

Lancaster University

University of Leeds

N4 Ground effects forecasts SWIMMR Activities in Ground Effects (SAGE) NERC British Geological Survey


NERC British Antarctic Survey

University College London

Imperial College London

N5 Satellite drag forecasts Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: Thermosphere (SWIMMR-T) University of Birmingham


University of Southampton

NERC British Antarctic Survey

Lancaster University


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EUMETSAT selects Phil Evans as its new Director General

We are very pleased to share the news that former Met Office Operations Director, Phil Evans, has been appointed as the new Director General of EUMETSAT.

EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the provision of satellite observations in support of weather, climate and ocean science. Established in 1986, and with 30 European Member States, EUMETSAT satellites provides critical data for Met Office services.

The role of Director General is an important international leadership responsibility, and a great result for Phil, for the Met Office, and for the UK. Phil spent most of his career to date working at the Met Office, most recently as Chief Operations Officer until earlier this year. In that role, he served as the Head of Delegation for EUMETSAT Council. He is moving from his current role as Director of Programmes at Institute of Physics.

Penny Endersby, Met Office Chief Executive said “I am delighted to see Phil’s talents and knowledge being used to head up a European organisation which is so key to the success of international weather and climate prediction, and at a time when there is an exciting programme of satellite launches due.”

Met Office is a sophisticated user of satellite data in our weather forecasting:

  • Satellite data are responsible for ~75% of the observations we feed into our global weather models.
  • In addition, satellite imagery products and movie loops allow forecasters to track the development and progress of weather systems, so that they can add value to the forecast.
  • Satellite observations can also be compared to past forecasts to verify their accuracy and help us improve our models and accuracy.

The stability and longevity of weather satellite observations mean they are a key contributor to climate monitoring.

The Met Office has a long history at the forefront of exploiting the value from our satellites for benefit to the UK. Our membership of EUMETSAT is essential to safeguarding this vital source of data while sharing the cost among the 30 Member States. EUMETSAT funds the Met Office to lead the Satellite Application Facility on behalf of the EUMETSAT membership.

Find out more on our website

Phil will succeed the current Director General, Alain Ratier, who has led EUMETSAT since 2011. We look forward to working with him as EUMETSAT enters an exciting phase of new programme implementation. Amongst other priorities, EUMETSAT is about to enter an intense phase of launches, with 5 new generation satellite launches from 2020-2024. The first of these will be Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 in November 2020.

Phil will take up the role in early 2021.


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End of June statistics

While June 2020 overall was not a record-breaking month, it has been notable for many, with some heavy rainfall at times. And, despite cooler days in the inclement weather, there was a notable heatwave and there have been some warmer than average nights.

Early in June there was a gradual breakdown of the high-pressure system which was responsible for bringing us the sunniest spring and the driest May since records began.

The breakdown allowed a return to Atlantic weather systems, bringing unsettled weather across the UK. Low pressure prevailed for much of the month, with spells of heavy rain and showers for many, triggering Met Office rain and thunderstorm warnings at times. However a spell of hot weather saw temperatures reach 33.4 at Heathrow on 25th.


The June rainfall was above average across most of the UK with especially large accumulations in the South West and South Wales.

Provisional June


Actual rainfall % of the June average   
UK 105.7 mm 144.0
England 88.4 mm 143.0
Wales 137.0 mm 160.0
Scotland 122.5 mm 139.0
Northern Ireland 124.3 mm 163.0

Based on the 1981 to 2010 long-term average

Cornwall recorded 143.3mm, over twice the county’s average monthly rainfall – making it the fifth wettest June on record for the county, South Glamorgan recorded 144.8mm – again around twice the expected monthly rainfall – making it the 7th wettest on record, while Devon has seen its 8th wettest June with 142.1mm recorded, also around twice the expected monthly rainfall (data back to 1862).

Although Cumbria as a whole recorded 151mm of rainfall, its 13th wettest June on record, Honister Pass Environment Agency rain gauge recorded 212.8mm of rainfall on 28th June (24-hour total) breaking the wettest June day on record*. It was also the wettest day of 2020 so far. Sutton Bonington (Notts) also had their wettest June day in nearly 100 years, with 46.2mm falling on the 17th.



















Daytime maximum and mean temperatures have been above average for June for much of the UK, but not record breaking. Heatwave conditions were briefly reached in parts of the country in the week of the 19th June , while there were also some warm nights with Gosport, Hampshire and Hastings, East Sussex, not seeing temperatures drop below 20.0°C on the night of 25th June making it a ‘tropical night’. This term describes days when the temperature does not fall under 20.0° C during the night-time. The Met Office began tracking ‘tropical nights‘ in 2018. This criterion is infrequently met and usually quite localised.

Maximum  temperature
Minimum temperature
Provisional June figures Actual °C Difference from June average °C Actual °C Difference from June average °C
UK 18.3 1.0 9.8 1.0
England 19.5 0.9 10.4 0.9
Wales 18.1 0.8 10.1 1.0
Scotland 16.4 1.2 8.8 1.3
Northern Ireland 17.4 0.6 9.6 0.8

Based on the 1981 to 2010 long-term average

You can get the most accurate and up to date forecast for your area using our forecast pages and by following us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as using our mobile app which is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from the Google Play store. You can check the latest weather warnings on our severe weather warnings pages.

For the latest guidance to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic please visit the UK Government’s coronavirus advice page. Those living in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland can access country-specific advice.


*based on digitised data held in the official Met Office climate archive

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Global temperature: how does 2020 compare so far?

The Earth’s average temperature has increased by about 1 degree C since pre-industrial times, which for the climate record is calculated as the period 1850-1900.

How does 2020 global temperature compare with previous globally warm years

Figure shows values from GISTEMP, NOAAGlobalTemp and HadCRUT4 relative to the period 1850-1900.

Although this is an average, some regions are experiencing a much faster rate of warming. Nowhere is this more apparent than parts of the Arctic, where melting sea ice is creating areas where heat from the sun is absorbed by darker ocean water, rather than being reflected back into space by highly reflective sea ice. This process is a key contributor to Arctic amplification of the warming rate and is an expected consequence of climate change. However, this is only part of the story.

Parts of northern Eurasia have been experiencing extremely high temperatures this year. Monthly average temperatures were more than 10.0 C above average in some places, due to a combination of climate change and extreme climate variability.

The extra heat can be traced back to the record high Indian Ocean Dipole in late autumn 2019. This led to a strong winter jet stream leading to extreme late winter warmth over Eurasia and a supercharged stratospheric polar vortex leading to persistence into spring.  Once the higher than normal temperatures were established reduced ice and snow only exacerbate the warmth.

Global temperatures for 2020 from January to the end of May.

This record-breaking heat in northern Eurasia has helped to propel monthly global temperatures and has fuelled media headlines about 2020 being on track to be the warmest year on record globally. But is that going to be the case?

Whilst there have been some record months, this year, overall 2020 is still not running at record temperature compared to 2016 – the warmest year for global average surface temperature.  Prof Adam Scaife  is the Head of Met Office Long Range Prediction. He said:“We are likely to have seen the most extreme global temperatures already this year as La Niña is now developing and the final value is likely to fall back into our forecast range of 0.99 to 1.23 C”. So while 2020 is running very high, there is no guarantee of a record this year.

Note: The global forecast for 2020 was produced in December 2019.

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Met Office scientists receive prestigious Royal Meteorological Society Awards

Last month the Met Office Hadley Centre celebrated its 30th anniversary. With a focus on ground-breaking science it is fitting that three Met Office scientists have been recognised in this year’s Royal Meteorological Society Awards, acknowledging their work in making exceptional contributions to weather and climate science.

The award recipients were:

  • The Buchan Prize: Professor Adam Scaife, Met Office and University of Exeter
  • The Climate Science Communications Award: Professor Richard Betts MBE, Met Office and University of Exeter
  • The L F Richardson Prize: Dr Joanne Waller, Met Office and Dr Gerard Kilroy, Ludwig-Maximilians, University of Munich

This year’s Buchan Prize was awarded to Professor Adam Scaife, Principal Fellow and Head of Monthly to Decadal Prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre.  Professor Scaife has gained international reputation as an outstanding scientist and this award recognizes his recent papers in Society journals on the dynamical mechanisms behind seasonal forecasts.


Professor Scaife said: “I’m delighted to receive the Society’s Buchan Prize and I’m deeply grateful for the acknowledgement this implies.  I’d like to thank the scientists who made and supported the nomination and also acknowledge the Met Office for giving me the opportunity to pursue a research career in atmospheric science.  Thanks also to the collaborators on my recent papers in society journals.  I’m also indebted to the members of my research group; as well as the excitement of scientific discovery, it’s the great fun I’ve had with the many inspiring, curious and interesting characters over the years that I am particularly grateful for!”

Professor Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, received the Climate Science Communications Award, recognizing both his outstanding research and his work in increasing the understanding of climate science among the public.  Professor Betts is one of the most highly-cited climate scientists and has a vital role in communicating climate science in mainstream media, social media and public-speaking at high profile events –  last year he was appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his ‘services to understanding climate change’ and he has previously hosted a ‘Climate Q&A’ at Glastonbury Festival.


Professor Betts said: I feel honoured to have been awarded the Climate Science Communications Award of the Royal Meteorological Society for 2019 and am delighted to accept it. 

Communicating the science of climate change is as challenging as it has ever been, maybe more so. This is a vast, multi-disciplinary field with enormous implications for society, and research is being conducted within a context of growing public concern and heightened passions for climate action, along with controversy over proposed ways forward... I hope I’ve been of some help in cutting through the noise.

I very much appreciate the trust that the Met Office and University of Exeter have shown me in allowing me to represent our organisations... I look forward to continuing the conversation!

Met Office scientist Dr Joanne Waller was one of the recipients of this year’s L F Richardson Prize.  This prize is awarded annually to an early career member of the Society for a meritorious paper published in a Society journal.  Dr Waller received the prize for her paper that analyses a technique for observation uncertainty estimation. This article forms part of her series of innovative papers which reported significant advances in understanding and implementing new observation uncertainty techniques, resulting significant improvements in Numerical Weather Prediction forecast skill.


Dr Waller said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive the L F Richardson Prize for my paper ‘Theoretical insight into diagnosing observation error correlations using observationminusbackground and observationminusanalysis statistics’. Thank you to my fellow authors and the Royal Meteorological Society!”

This year the Royal Meteorological Society will celebrate the awards digitally, showcasing each of the worthy winners on their website and social media channels throughout this week.

The full list of RMetS award recipients for 2019 can be viewed here.



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The impact of coronavirus on Met Office observations

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis continues to affect the activities of society as a whole, and the weather observing network is no exception.

The pandemic has led to a sharp fall in the number of flights around the world and therefore a loss of aircraft-based observations, including temperature, wind and humidity readings, which are used by global numerical weather prediction (NWP) centres.

Satellite observations from space agencies, such as the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT, have not been interrupted and continue to provide key observational data, and the Met Office surface observing network here in the UK is almost fully automated and is therefore also relatively resilient to this type of crisis.

In some cases, national meteorological services are working with private satellite companies to help mitigate some of the adverse effects of the continued loss of aircraft-based observations.  The Met Office has warmly welcomed the offer from the commercial satellite company, Spire, who have made their Radio Occultation (RO) data available to us free of charge for a limited period.

Dr John Eyre, Met Office Fellow, said “We have used RO data from other satellites for many years, and we know their value for improving our weather forecasts. The offer of data from Spire is very welcome. It will make a valuable contribution to mitigating the loss of other weather observations during the COVID-19 period”.

Spire Executive Vice President Corporate Development, Theresa Condor, said: “We are very glad that Spire could make a contribution of our weather data to the Met Office during this current crisis, demonstrating the kind of collaboration that is possible between public and private institutions to ensure the resilience of a critical service for people and businesses.”

Radio Occultation (RO) samples atmospheric temperature and moisture using a receiver on a satellite and by measuring signals sent by global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as those from GPS satellites. As the signal between the two satellites travels through the atmosphere, it is refracted; the magnitude of this refraction depends on the temperature and water vapour content of the atmosphere, allowing relevant weather information to be derived as the signal between the two satellites passes through different levels of the atmosphere.

The Spire data will be assimilated into Met Office Numerical Weather Prediction systems to help improve our forecasting capabilities.

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Why has Summer so far been wetter than Spring?

At less than halfway through June, some parts of the UK have already had more rain than during the entire three months of spring.  Parts of North East England in particular have seen most rain so far this month, with Durham already having reached its average rainfall total for June.

Why is this?

Spring 2020 was the sunniest spring on record and fifth driest for the UK overall.  This was a result of the jet stream lodging itself to the north of the UK throughout much of spring, allowing high pressure and settled weather to dominate for most of the season.  Many parts of the UK had less than 50% of their average spring rainfall and England had its driest May since records began.

However, from early June this ‘blocking high’ gradually broke down, allowing Atlantic weather systems to once again bring unsettled weather across the UK. Since then low pressure has prevailed, with spells of heavy rain and heavy showers for many, triggering a Met Office rain warning in places.

rainfall june

Where has been wettest so far this month?

Parts of north-east England have been especially wet – Loftus in North Yorkshire had 80.6mm of rain in the first 12 days of June, compared with just 32mm during the months of March, April and May combined.  On 11th June Loftus recorded 41.2mm of rain – this is more rain in one day than it received during the entire spring season.

Other locations that have been wetter in June so far than Spring include:

Spring Rain June rain (to 11th)
LOFTUS 32 80.6
BOULMER 33.4 35.4
LEEMING 37.2 43.4
WAINFLEET NO 2 38.8 18.6
BRAMHAM 42.8 51.4
LECONFIELD 43.2 59.4

Other counties, such as Cornwall and North Yorkshire, are approaching their average June total rainfall.

What does this mean for the rest of Summer?

Although it’s too early to determine what weather we can expect for the rest of summer, the second half of June looks to remain changeable, with a mix of sunny spells and scattered showers, these heavy and thundery at times.  The best of the drier and sunnier weather will most likely be across northwestern parts of the UK, with temperatures on the warm side for most.  Check out our long-range forecast for more details.

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A local look at the record-breaking Spring and May weather

Both the month of May and the full spring season have been exceptional for the UK, as outlined in our recent news release. In this blog we look at the local detail of what has been an exceptionally sunny and dry few months.


Perhaps the most impressive of all the national statistics was the number of sunshine hours recorded across the UK. May 2020 was the sunniest calendar month on record for the UK, England and Wales. It has also been the sunniest spring for all UK countries.

As we have seen at the UK level, in May many weather station locations have also had their sunniest calendar month on record. A notable example of this is at the Radcliffe Meteorological Station in Oxford. This station has the longest continuous sunshine record in the world and it recorded 331.7 hours of sunshine in May 2020, beating the previous record of 310.4 hours set in July 1911. Data from this station stretches back to February 1880.

Top 10 sunniest ceremonial counties in May 2020

County Sunshine hours Anomaly (%) Previous record (hours)
Isle of Wight 378.2 168 322.9 in 1989
Bristol 352.1 172 295.3 in 1948
Hampshire 345.4 171 304.0 in 1989
Berkshire 342.4 179 294.3 in 1989
West Sussex 338.2 162 311.2 in 1989
Wiltshire 335.5 173 274.4 in 1989
Kent 335.4 164 311.2 in 1989
Dorset 335.0 163 295.7 in 1989
Oxfordshire 330.7 175 279.0 in 1989
Essex 329.9 166 305.6 in 1989

Shetland was the only location not to record more than its average sunshine hours, with 165.7 hours of sunshine in May, which is 92% of its average for the month.

For the spring season, the Isle of Wight was the sunniest location in the UK. It set a new spring sunshine record of 837.4 hours. The previous record was 718.6 hours recorded in the spring of 1990. All top ten sunshine counties in spring have set new records for the number of sunshine hours.

Top 10 sunniest ceremonial counties in Spring 2020

County Sunshine (hours) Anomaly (%) Previous record
Isle of Wight 837.4 155 718.6 in 1990
Kent 784.8 159 691.1 in 1990
Hampshire 776.8 159 662.6 in 1948
Bristol 775.9 157 689.2 in 1948
Berkshire 775.1 167 643.5 in 1990
Essex 773.9 163 658.8 in 1990
West Sussex 765.5 152 690.3 in 1990
Wiltshire 763.0 162 659.7 in 1948
Cambridgeshire 752.1 164 619.5 in 1990
Dorset 751.1 150 689.2 in 1948


The next most striking meteorological statistic has been the lack of rainfall. England has had its driest May on record and this is reflected in north-east England and eastern Scotland, especially where a number of counties have recorded their driest spring on record.

Another exceptional fact is that the station at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire recorded no measurable rainfall during May, with rain gauges left at 0.0mm at the start of June. Over the course of spring just 77.6mm was recorded here; the average is 141.4mm. A total of 10 Met Office weather stations recorded 1.0 mm or less though May, the majority of these in south-east England.

There has, however, been significant rainfall in parts of the UK through May, the highest accumulation recorded at a Met Office site being 226.4mm at Achnagart in Scotland. The Achnagart station also recorded its wettest May daily rainfall in 51 years with 97.2mm of rain in the 24 hours ending 0900 GMT on the 23rd.

Top 10 driest ceremonial counties in May 2020

County Rainfall (mm) Anomaly (%) Previous record (mm)
Northamptonshire 1.7 3 7.1 in 1990
Warwickshire 1.9 4 7.8 in 1896
Cambridgeshire 2.4 5 9.3 in 1896
Berkshire 2.5 4 5.6 in 1990
Hampshire 2.7 5 8.9 in 1991
Suffolk 3.0 6 5.9 in 1989
Hertfordshire 3.4 6 5.6 in 1990
West Midlands 3.5 6 6.8 in 1896
City of London 3.6 7 No new record
Merseyside 3.6 6 8.0 in 1991

For spring, only the Western Isles recorded more than average rainfall, with 317.7mm, 101% of the season’s average. In contrast most counties were well below average.

Spring rainfall top 10 driest counties

County Rainfall (mm) Anomaly (%) Previous record (mm)
Tyne and Wear 36.4 25 56.5 in 1875
Lincolnshire 37.3 27 41.5 in 2011
East Riding of Yorkshire 41.5 28 46.8 in 2011
Nottinghamshire 42.8 30 45.2 in 1990
Norfolk 47.1 33 No new record
South Yorkshire 48.9 29 60.2 in 2011
Cambridgeshire 50.4 39 No new record
City of Dundee 54.4 36 58.5 in 1870
Suffolk 55.0 41 No new record
Bedfordshire 59.4 42 No new record

Tyne and Wear set its record for lowest spring rainfall, beating 56.5mm recorded in 1875. All counties in the top 10 table above except Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Bedfordshire set new records for their lowest spring rainfall.


Although exceptionally dry and sunny, both spring and May were not notable for the temperatures recorded. Almost all of our weather stations in the UK were above their average temperature for May, however only Morpeth in Northumberland set a new monthly average maximum temperature record. The station has been recording weather observations for 113 years.

Top 10 mean temperature ceremonial counties Spring 2020

County Mean Temperature (°C) Anomaly (°C)
City of London 11.83 1.18
Greater London 11.14 1.17
Bristol 10.94 1.30
South Glamorgan 10.61 1.33
Isle of Wight 10.6 1.13
East Sussex 10.4 1.19
Hampshire 10.37 1.19
Cornwall 10.37 1.19
Merseyside 10.34 1.05
Surrey 10.31 1.23

All counties other than Shetland recorded mean temperatures above the long-term average in May. For spring, all counties were above their mean temperature long-term average.

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