The weather has given us all a dry January

The UK has had its own Dry January, as most parts have experienced lower than average rainfall during the month.

Provisional January 2017 data Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
  Actual Diff to avg Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 3.9  0.2 56.5 120 75.5  62
England 3.8 -0.3 63.7 117 63.9  77
Wales 4.5  0.4 50.2 103 93.5  59
Scotland  3.6  1 48.5 135 93.7  53
N Ireland  5.1 0.9 45.3 102 53.3  46

As a whole, the UK has witnessed just under two thirds (62%) of the average rainfall for January, when compared to the period between 1981 and 2010. However, the UK overview masks the detail, and drilling down into the figures reveal that some parts have received less than half the average rainfall for the month.

When compared with the long-term average Kinross in Scotland was the driest area during January 2017, as only 25% of the average January rainfall fell during the month, amounting to just under 34mm. In contrast the wettest place relative to the long-term average was the Isle of Wight where 34% more rain fell than in an average January. Buteshire recorded the highest amount of rainfall for the UK, but 136mm was only 69% of what is expected during a typical January.

Heavy rainfall for parts of the UK at the end of January was welcome and helped bring up some totals, especially for some of the driest locations. Murlough in County Down received 30mm of rain on 30 January, more rain than had fallen during the rest of the month. The highest rainfall total for the UK during January was at Cluanie Inn, in Inverness-shire, which recorded 53.6mm on 14 January.

2017_1_rainfall_anomaly_1981-2010Dr Mark McCarthy is the head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre. He said: “Rainfall across the UK during January has been generally low. A few locations in the south and east have recorded more than average rainfall, but some areas have received less than one third of the average amount for January. Some regions, such as Northern Ireland, which had recorded very low rainfall during the month saw a recovery in rainfall in the last couple of days of the month.”

Provisional figures from October 2016 to January 2017 show that these four months have been the second driest October-January in a series stretching back to 1910. The lack of rainfall wasn’t evenly spread across the UK and the statistics from some countries feature more highly than others. Northern Ireland, for example, experienced its driest October to January period in the whole series (back to 1910), while England over the same period was the driest since 1991/92 and 8th driest in the series.

  • UK total October-January rainfall was 314.8 mm, and the only year it was drier was in 1962-63 with 265.3 mm.
  • England driest since 1991/92, ranked equal-8th overall
  • Wales driest since 1962/63, ranked 2nd overall
  • Scotland driest since 1962/63, ranked 2nd overall
  • Northern Ireland driest in the whole series since 1910 (beating 1962/63 by quite a clear margin)

Sunshine

The majority of the UK recorded more sunshine than normal for January. Scotland recorded a 35% increase in sunshine compared with the average between 1981–2010. With 63.7 hours England recorded the most sunshine, and as you may expect the sunniest days were observed in southern England, with 8.4 hours at Culdrose, in Cornwall, on 23 January and also at East Malling in Kent on 18 January.

Temperatures

Locations in Scotland recorded the UK’s highest and lowest daily temperatures. Achfary, in Sutherland, and Plockton, in Ross & Cromarty, recorded 14.2 °C on 25 January, while five days later Braemar, in Aberdeenshire, recorded -10.1 °C as the lowest minimum temperature on 30 January.

The mean temperatures for Northern Scotland were 1.3 °C higher than the long-term January average, while average temperatures in Kent were -1.3 °C below the January average.

Dr Mark McCarthy added: “The reversal of anticipated temperatures with northern Scotland being, on average, warmer than south-east England is largely due to the area of high pressure which sat over continental Europe. This pool of dense cold air had a strong influence on those parts of Britain closest to Europe.”

Recently we’ve seen a return to more unsettled weather, with further rain and strong winds forecast for some areas over the next few days. Looking ahead to next week: after a changeable start with temperatures generally around average, there are some signs that from midweek we will see a return to more settled, drier and probably colder conditions, however details about this will change over the coming days.

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5 Responses to The weather has given us all a dry January

  1. maureen carroll says:

    Hello Met Office, Just to say, and it is important for accuracy there is no such place as Buteshire in Scotland. There never has been. It has always been called Bute. When it was a lone standing county and attention was being drawn to its county status the reference would be to the ‘County of Bute’. It is now part of the local authority area called Argyll and Bute and before that was in the Strathclyde region. Bute is of course an island whose southern eastern shore is on the Firth of Clyde. Beautiful island with its town of Rothesay. Maureen Carroll(Glasgow)

  2. xmetman says:

    Surprisingly, there was no reason given for the dry January, which was due to the anticylonicity of the month generally, which resulted in a much higher than average monthly mean pressure across the British Isles. This has been a feature of both the winter and last autumn. You can find more information about it here: http://xmetman.com/wp/2017/01/24/currently-third-most-anticyclonic-winter-since-1871/

    Dreadful formatting in that first table by the way!

  3. zebraphile says:

    It’s interesting that this October-January was the driest since 1962/63. That was a record cold winter, with winters in the UK tending to be either mild and wet (as in 2013-14, say) or cold and dry. This winter seems to be mild and dry. I wonder what’s up with that, eh?

  4. Mild and dry – unless a February freeze (and more high pressure probably in control) is about to change things …

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