Procession of spring begins with a moderate March

Meteorologically March has been a relatively average month, certainly when compared to the record-breaking wet February the UK has just seen. The first month of meteorological Spring has delivered everything we expect in March from warm days to strong winds and snow.

Temperatures have been close to average for the month, with the UK as a whole just 0.1°C above the long-term average. England has been slightly warmer (0.2°C) and Northern Ireland slightly cooler (-0.3°C) than average.

2020_3_MeanTemp_Anomaly_1981-2010

In contrast to February, March was comparatively dry, with the UK receiving 82% (78mm) of its average rainfall. Most of the month’s rainfall fell during the first 18 days of March, continuing the unsettled spell from the past winter. The east of the country has been particularly dry, for example Aberdeenshire and Lincolnshire have had in the region of just 1/3 of their normal rainfall. Whilst some places in the west of the country have been much closer to or just above average. The Western Isles were the wettest compared to average, with 131% (189mm) of the normal rainfall total for the month.

2020_3_Rainfall_Anomaly_1981-2010

March has been a notably sunny month, with all regions seeing more than the average total of sunshine hours, especially in England and Wales. The sunniest county was Kent with 185.4 hours of sunshine. Some counties such as Essex, Kent and Rutland have recorded totals in the top 10 in their records.

2020_3_Sunshine_Anomaly_1981-2010

Although rather average on the usual statistical fields, March has still seen a new record set. Tim Legg from the National Climate Information Centre, said: “On Sunday 29 March, a new March record was set for the highest mean sea level pressure recorded in the UK, with 1051.2mb at South Uist in Scotland. The location in the Western Isles was one of the closest monitoring stations to the centre of the large area of high pressure out in the Atlantic which has been responsible for bringing the largely settled and sunny conditions to much of the UK over the final days of the month.”

With these fairly settled conditions, there have been a number of frosts, something the UK didn’t see a huge amount of over the winter months. Although it’s not unusual to get frosts in March, it is interesting that in Wales and northern England there have been more frosts in March than there were in any one of the winter months, showing just how mild it was through December, January and February.

Provisional March 2020 Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
Actual  Diff from avg (°C) Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 5.6 0.1 136.3 134 78.0 82
England 6.4 0.2 157.1 146 49.0 77
Wales 5.9 0.1 142.3 140 94.3 81
Scotland 4.1 -0.0 101.8 110 123.3 88
N Ireland 5.6 -0.3 126.2 128 68.6 72
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