Winter and February statistics for 2018

Looking at the statistics you may be forgiven for thinking that the winter of 2017/18 was rather uneventful, as both temperatures and rainfall totals are quite close to average in most places.

In fact the statistic of interest when taking the season as a whole was sunshine, with this winter ranking as the 2nd sunniest for the UK (figures dating back to 1929), only fractionally behind 2015. Many areas had above average sunshine in each of the three individual months, Northern Scotland doing so by the widest margin.

Much of the winter was rather unsettled, and only in the second half of February did we get several generally dry days together. However, that was followed by winds from the east, temperatures dropping and the widespread snowfall last week.

Temperatures were slightly below average in Scotland in January, and over a degree below average for almost all of the UK in February, so, despite it being slightly milder than average in December everywhere and also in January for England and Wales, the season overall came in very slightly colder than average, though not as cold as winter 2013.

December and January were both slightly wetter than average for the UK as a whole, but February was rather drier, so overall the winter is close to average for many areas, with East Anglia rather wetter and eastern Scotland somewhat drier.

Provisional Winter 2018 Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
Actual  Diff from avg (°C) Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 3.6 -0.2 191.3 121 316.8 96
England 4.2 0.0 211.8 120 232.9 101
Wales 4.3 0.1 179.9 112 445.9 103
Scotland 2.3 -0.4 163.3 127 414.5 88
N Ireland 3.9 -0.5 173.7 117 352.2 112

February 2018

Much of the first half of February was rather colder than average, with only a few isolated milder days, but no exceptionally low temperatures anywhere (the lowest temperature up to mid-month being -11.0 °C at Bewcastle, Cumbria, on the morning of February 7th). It was rather unsettled, with the majority of places having at least half the month’s average rainfall within the first half of the month, but with clearer slots in between the rain bands allowing ample sunshine. The second half of the month was rather quieter, and for a few days temperatures were closer to normal.

However, it gradually turned colder over the final week, also with increasing snowfall in some areas. The temperature fell to -11.7 °C at South Farnborough on the morning of the 28th, while some places had at least 15 cm snow depth as the month ended.

Provisional Feb 20118 Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
Actual  Diff from avg (°C) Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 2.4 -1.3 95.6 137 64.3 73
England 2.7 -1.4 99.4 134 44.7 74
Wales 2.7 -1.2 92.7 132 79.9 72
Scotland 1.7 -1.0 90.5 144 90.9 70
N Ireland 2.9 -1.4 91.6 137 74.0 88

Temperatures for the month were more than a degree below average in most areas. Cold Februaries have not been common in the last 20 years – with 2013 having been rather colder than average in south-eastern areas, and 2010 having been rather cold more widely and especially in the north.

This February was provisionally colder than 2013 but less cold than 2010. The years 1996, 1994 and 1991 saw rather cold Februaries, but it was 1986 that was very cold throughout which sticks in the memories of those of us of a certain age!!

It was a remarkably sunny February, provisionally ranking amongst the top 10 sunniest (figures dating back to 1929), in fact the UK as a whole had its second sunniest February, beaten only by 2008. Western areas generally fared best of all. Only the coast of Yorkshire had less than the full-month average.

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