December on track to be the mildest on record

Mowing the lawn has been the reality for some so far this December, with unseasonably high temperatures. It looks as though the UK is on track to break the record for the warmest December since records began in 1910 and some areas have also seen their wettest.

The latest temperatures for December (1st to 22nd) reveal that the month so far has been far warmer than normal. Early provisional figures* reveal that the mean temperature for December in the UK has so far has been 8.1C, which is 4.2C above the long-term average for the month and well above the previous record of 6.9C set in 1934.

The December figure for England has so far been 9.5C, that’s 5.1C above the same long-term average and 2C above the record of 7.5C set in 1934, and the other UK nations have been similarly warm:

  • the mean temperature of 9.3C in Wales, higher than the previous post-1910 record of 7.5C set in 1934, and 4.8C above average
  • the mean temperature of 5.6°C in Scotland is 2.8C above average, but is so far slightly lower than the previous December record of 5.8C set in 1988
  • the mean temperature of 7.5°C in Northern Ireland is 3C higher than average, and marginally higher than the 1988 December record

Tim Legg of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre said: “With no sign of any significantly cold weather to come in the remaining 9 days of the month, we’re on track to break the warmest December record which was set back in 1934.”

Rainfall 1 - 22 Dec 2015

Rainfall 1 – 22 Dec 2015

MeanTemperature Dec 1 - 22, 2015

MeanTemperature Dec 1 – 22, 2015











Rainfall and sunshine figures so far confirm December has been dull and wet across most of the UK, with sunshine well down on the long-term average while precipitation (which of course has fallen mainly as rain) has been well above.  Some places have seen record breaking rainfall:

  • Cumberland 310.9mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 248.2mm 2006),
  • Westmorland 474.4mm 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 365.1mm 2006)
  • Dumfriesshire 314mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 307.5mm 2013)
  • Carnarvonshire 441.3mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 376.6mm 1965)
  • Roxburghshire 237.8mm rainfall 1 – 22nd Dec (previous record 219.7mm 2013)


EARLY mean temperature sunshine duration precipitation
1-22 Dec 2015 Act Anom Act Anom   Act Anom
  Deg C Deg C hours % mm %
UK 8.1 4.2 17.7 43 148.0 123
England 9.5 5.1 19.8 42 86.5 99
Wales 9.3 4.8 16.3 39 237.1 143
Scotland 5.6 2.8 14.1 46 229.1 140
N Ireland 7.5 3.0 20.7 56 130.4 114


You can find out what the rest of the year has been like on our climate pages.

*Data from the Met Office’s UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

Please note that these provisional figures, especially for rainfall and sunshine, are subject to revision. Anomalies are expressed relative to the 1981-2010 averaging period.

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12 Responses to December on track to be the mildest on record

  1. xmetman says:

    It’s also been the second warmest Autumn since 1772:

    You can also find the reason why it’s been so exceptionally mild by looking at the mean pressure charts and anomalies:

  2. “It’s also been the second warmest Autumn since 1772”.
    I’m sorry but that’s total nonsense:
    Dire in northern England today. Especially at Christmas. And a monthly mean of close to 8.1 C for this December will be ‘off the scale’. I also hope that 945 mb depression with 110 mph winds shown on the charts for next Tuesday evening steers well clear of the British Isles – if not it will be called ‘Frank’ (the Irish weather people might go ahead and name it anyway if severe gales are threatening there).

    • xmetman says:

      You’d better read my blog a little more carefully.

      Some people like to use so called ‘meteorological’ seasons, but I prefer (like a lot of others) to use ‘calendar’ seasons that approximately align with the solstices, and I can assure you, that if you care to do the stats rather that just quoting from them as you seem so expert at, that you will find that Autumn 2015 was indeed the second warmest Autumn on record, and that the only thing that makes no sense around here is you.

      • xmetman

        You failed to inform us what you meant by ‘autumn’. UK temperatures for Sept-Oct-Nov were close to average.

      • xmetman says:

        My post was a ‘tempter’, and meant to get people to engage in a blog that had articles not only on CET, but also about the current weather across the British Isles and expand on or offer an alternative view to the original Met Office post. I broadly agree in what you post here, and would value you as a subscriber.

      • Thank you for approving my comments at your blog.

        I note – taken from the data published by the Met Office on 5 January – that the December 2015 mean for England and Wales is a whopping 9.3 C. Four past May mean temperatures for England and Wales were COOLER than that. Which is rather astonishing given the difference in daylight length between December and May.

        On solstices and equinoxes, I still think that the latter don’t mark when days start getting longer or shorter merely the important date when the northern/southern hemisphere starts/stops being tilted towards the sun ie the equinox occurs DURING spring/autumn, when the days have already been lengthening/shortening, rather than at the very start of spring/autumn (at 5 January the days are lengthening slightly already in the northern hemisphere and on average – in a normal year anyway – the north should also start to begin to warm a little sooner than the date of the March equinox).

  3. xmetman says:

    The final figures are in, and I can confirm what we’ve suspected for a while, and that is that December 2015 was the warmest December since the monthly Central England Temperature series began in 1659. The mean temperature for the month was 9.67°C, which was a remarkable +5.02°C above the 1961-1990 long-term average for the month.

  4. Dec 2015 was also almost certainly the wettest UK month EVER recorded (since 1910).

  5. I just tried submitting the following comment to your blog (it might be of wider interest):

    “Speaking personally, I think it is absurd to say that summer ‘begins’ at the summer solstice or that winter ‘begins’ at the winter solstice (though this results from marking an equinox as the ‘beginning’ of spring/autumn which might have some sort of justification). These being ‘astronomical’ seasons. One could argue that a true astronomical season would place an equinox or solstice right at the middle of the season in question (I believe that ‘Midsummer Day’ falls on 24 June which is very close to the solstice.) The sun is highest in the sky in the middle of summer surely? I am also surprised that a meteorologist is advocating astronomical seasons over meteorological ones (loosely based upon average temperature and conveniently grouped by whole months). If the warmest/coldest UK weather occurs on AVERAGE around the third week of July/January, one could argue that these weeks mark midsummer and midwinter – and they do fall close to the middle of summer/winter as it is defined by the likes of the Met Office.

    • xmetman says:

      Splitting the season’s by the solstices is no more absurd than doing it by the month. You can’t argue with the position of the sun, and it predates the idea of a year that is comprised of 12 calendar months by thousands of years.

      The only reason that I can see why ‘meteorologists’ ever did it by month in the first place, was that before the age of computers is was far easier to add three temperatures and divide. The other problem with the four seasons is that in many recent years we only ever have three and not four seasons anyway!

      We have a very similar same problem with climate stats which are based on a day that runs from 0900-0900. In the age of the Automatic Weather Station we could fix that instantly if we used (local) midnight which would be far more sensible. The problem is of course with that idea, is that we have hundreds of years of archived climate values that are based on a day that starts and finishes at 0900.

      It’s all a question of where we draw the line.

      Thankfully, with years, that happened just a couple of days ago.

  6. Is there any chance the Met Office could publish my reply of around two days ago?

  7. Apologies – just spotted my response of 5 January (much higher up on the ‘page’).

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