Sixth warmest January in series since 1884

Across the UK, January 2020 was the sixth warmest January in a series starting in 1884, making it the warmest since 2007. With an average mean temperature for the month of 5.6 °C, it was 2.0 °C warmer than the average between 1981-2010. It was the fifth warmest January in Scotland with an average mean temperature of 4.8 °C, 2.1 °C above the 1981-2010 average.

The warmest January on record was 1916 with a mean temperature of 6.3 °C, which is a notably long-standing climate record.


In line with the theme of higher than average temperature, the number of days of air frost was considerably below average; where air frost is defined as a day in which the minimum temperature falls below freezing (0 °C).

Dr Mark McCarthy is the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. He said: “January 2020 experienced only five days of widespread air frost the fewest recorded for January since 1990, and third lowest in a series from 1960.

“The weather station in Morpeth, in Northumberland, has broken a 135-year January record by not observing a temperature of 0.0 °C or below during the month.”


Rainfall saw mixed fortunes, with Northern Ireland, eastern Scotland and north east England all recording a relatively dry January with Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire recording 15.6 mm, just 30% of its average January rainfall and the driest place in the country in January. In contrast, north-west Scotland was wetter than average, with 655mm of rain at Achnagart in Ross and Cromarty, which is 151 % of average and was the wettest place.


An east-west contrast was also apparent for sunshine with the sunniest place in the country during January being Leconfield, Humberside with 145 % of average sunshine while Stornoway and Tiree recorded their dullest January on record with just 42% and 38% of average respectively.


Provisional January 2020 Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
Actual  Diff from avg (°C) Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 5.6 2.0 44.5 94 121.7 100
England 6.2 2.1 56.3 104 71.1 86
Wales 5.8 1.7 45.2 93 142.5 91
Scotland 4.8 2.1 25.5 72 209.5 119
N Ireland 5.3 1.1 40.1 90 68.3 59
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