Warm and wet October for the UK 

October 2021 was a warm and wet month for the UK, with a typically autumnal mix of weather types with warm spells, frequent showers and some persistent heavy rain. That is according to provisional figures released by the Met Office.  

UK mean temperatures have been 1.4°C above the long-term average for October, standing at 10.9°C. It’s a similar warm theme across the regions of the UK, with England’s October mean temperature at 11.8°C (1.4°C above average), Wales at 11.4°C (1.6°C above average), Scotland at 9.2°C (1.3°C above average) and Northern Ireland at 11.0°C (1.6°C above average).  

As you’d expect, average maximum temperatures were also more than 1°C above the long-term averages, with the most noteworthy being seen in Northern Ireland, with their average maximum temperature for the month at 14.2°C making it its joint-eighth warmest on record with figures going back to 1884. The warmest October for Northern Ireland by maximum temperature was in 1969, when the average maximum temperature was 15.1°C.  

Map of the UK showing average mean temperatures for October 2021 versus the long term average. The map shows above average mean temperatures across the vast majority of the UK.
October 2021 mean temperature versus the long term average

It was also a wet month for many, although not enough to threaten any national records. An average of 162.7mm of rain fell across the UK, which represents 28% more than the average for October. This figure was spurred on by some persistent heavy rain over a number of days in the latter half of the month, with some noteworthy consecutive-day rainfall totals in Cumbria in particular.  

Honister Pass in Cumbria saw more than 80% of its monthly rainfall over the 48-hour period from 26-27 October, as 343mm fell in the period, with the long-term average for the station in the month as a whole standing at 417.6mm. Although that’s one station in isolation, 14 other stations in Cumbria also recorded more than half of their average total October rainfall across the same period. Rain persisted through the following days resulting in very notable rainfall accumulations across the region and some significant flood related impacts. For comparison, the highest 2-day accumulation on record was 405mm which fell over 4-5 December 2015 at Thirlmere in Cumbria.  

The above average rainfall was replicated across much of the UK, with England seeing a total of 124.6mm (36% more than average), Wales 209mm (23% more than average), Scotland 219.3mm (25% more than average) and Northern Ireland 126.5mm (6% more than average). However, these figures don’t threaten any records, with the record average rainfall in October for the UK standing at 226.1mm in 1903.  

Heavy rain and high winds at the end of the month contributed to some disrupted travel conditions in the UK as people headed north to COP26 in Glasgow.

October 2021 rainfall amount versus the long term average

Dr Mark McCarthy of the National Climate Information Centre said, “Warm and wet was the main theme through October 2021. However, this October has really demonstrated the variability of an October in the UK, with some good dry spells for many in the middle of the month, before some heavier rain later in the month.  

“The warm conditions have resulted in relatively few ground frosts compared to the average for the month. You’d normally expect six or seven days of ground frost in the UK, but most areas are below the average.” 

October 2021 average ground frost versus the long term average

Sunshine hours were also subdued across the UK, especially in Scotland, where they had 26% fewer sunshine hours than the long-term average, with 55.4 hours of sunshine. The average figure for Scotland for October is 75.1 hours. The UK had 13% fewer sunshine hours than the long-term average for the month, with 80.2 hours. The average figure for the UK in October is 92.3 hours.  

October 2021 sunshine amount versus the long term average
Provisional October 2021Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm) 
 Actual Diff from avg (°C)Actual% of avgActual% of avg
UK 10.9 1.4 80.286  162.7 128
England 11.8 1.4 9592 124.6 136
Wales 11.4 1.6 77.183 209 123
Scotland 9.2 1.3 55.474 219.3 125
N Ireland 11. 1.6 8698 126.5 106
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