Third sunniest January on record starts the year for the UK

January 2022 was the sunniest start to a year on record for England, and the third sunniest for the UK in provisional figures released by the Met Office.  

England saw an average 80.7 hours of sunshine in January, putting it at the top of a series that dates back to 1919. The UK saw an average of 62.7 hours of sunshine in the month, which makes it the sunniest January since 2001 and the third sunniest overall.  

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also had above average sunshine hours in the month, although not enough to trouble any records. Wales had an average of 55.1 hours of sunshine (17% above average), Scotland 38.1 hours (8% above average) and Northern Ireland 43.4 hours (2% above average). Northern Scotland was the notable exception with a relatively dull month and just 76% of average sunshine. 

Sunshine amounts were especially high in northern and eastern England, with a number of regions seeing record-high levels of sunshine in the month, including North Yorkshire (88.6 hours), Derbyshire (80.3 hours) and Nottinghamshire (105.4 hours). For Nottinghamshire, the final figure for sunshine hours was a massive 79% more than their long-term average for the month, and Norfolk exceeded its average sunshine total by 92%.  

East Anglia and the Midlands also saw record levels of sunshine in the month, with East Anglia’s figure of 101.8 hours of sunshine topping the previous record of 85.5 hours set in 2001. For the Midlands, 78.4 sunshine hours topped the 74.3 hours seen in 1952.  

Map showing sunshine hours for January 2022 against the long term average. The map shows eastern areas have seen well above average sunshine hours, while the west of Scotland has seen slightly fewer sunshine hours than average.
Sunshine hours in January 2022 against the long term average

A mild theme

January started with the warmest New Year’s Day on record for the UK, with 16.3°C recorded at St James’s Park in London. Scotland and Wales also broke their New Year’s Day record high temperatures, as 15.9°C was reported at Achnagart (Scotland) and 15.6°C at Hawarden (Wales).  

The mild theme continued for much of the month, albeit with some cool nighttime temperatures in the south for much of the month.  

It was an especially mild January for Scotland, with a mean temperature of 4.7°C putting it as the country’s sixth warmest January on record and 1.8°C above the long-term average.  

Map of the UK showing mean temperatures for January 2022 against the long term average. The maps shows northern areas have been milder than average, while areas in the south are nearer to average.
Mean temperature for January 2022 versus the long term average

Mild conditions were not quite as dominant further south, low levels of cloud resulted in some spells of low overnight minimum temperatures being reported along with more ground frost and air frost compared to further north. For only the third time in 30 years, England saw more air frosts in January than Scotland, with an average of 12 days of air frost topping the 8 days seen in Scotland. Wales reported an average of 11 days and Northern Ireland 5 days.  

Map showing the number of air frosts in the UK for January 2022 against the long term average. The maps showers fewer than average air frosts in the north (especially Scotland) and more than average in the south.
Air frosts for January 2022 against the long term average

Dry for most

Despite a late-month flurry of rain in the north, January has seen less than half the average rainfall for the month for the UK. An average of 61.3mm of rain fell, which is well below the average of 121.5mm. Scotland was the only country to report more than 50% of its average rainfall, but its figure of 110.2mm was still only 62% of its average.  

England had its ninth driest January in a series that goes back to 1862, with just 38% (31.7mm) of its average rainfall. Wales had 44% (68.9mm) of its average, and Northern Ireland 47% (53.4mm).   

Map of the UK showing rainfall amount for January 2022 versus the long term average. The maps shows the vast majority of the UK has seen below average rainfall for January.
Rainfall amount for January 2022 versus the long term average

Dr Mark McCarthy of the National Climate Information Centre said, “January has been a dry and sunny month. It has been notably mild for Scotland but a fair share of frosty mornings across much of England. 

“High pressure has had a big influence over the UK’s weather this month, with a persistent area of high pressure in the south dominating the picture from mid-month and resulting in a relatively dry month. The exception to this for the UK was the late influence of Storms Malik and Corrie in the last weekend of January, bringing rain and disruptive winds to many in the north.” 

Indeed, this is reflected in mean wind speeds which have been generally above average in the north of Scotland in January, but relatively calm across much of England and Wales.   

Provisional January 2022Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm) 
 Actual Diff from avg (°C)Actual% of avgActual% of avg
UK 4.7 0.8 62.7132  61.3 50
England 4.6 0.2 80.7146 31.7 38
Wales 4.9 0.5 55.1117 68.9 44
Scotland 4.7 1.8 38.1108 110.2 62
N Ireland 5.5 1 43.4102 53.4 47

Winter so far

Statistics for this section are referring to the period from 1 December 2021 to 1 February 2022, with a month of meteorological winter still to come.  

Two months into meteorological winter and the season so far has been mild, with mean temperatures for the UK sat at 5°C, which is 0.9°C above the long-term average for the whole of winter. 

Despite January’s noteworthy sunshine, December’s contrasting dullness – the dullest since 1956 and the sixth dullest calendar month in records back to 1919 – means that winter so far has still been slightly duller than average, with 87.7 hours of sunshine so far, which is 54% of the average for the whole of the season. By 1 February you’d normally expect to have seen 68% of the average sunshine.  

Map of the UK showing sunshine duration for the UK for December 2021 versus the long term average. The map shows a much duller month than average for much of the UK.
December 2021 sunshine map against the long term average
Map of the UK showing sunshine duration for January 2022 versus the long term average. The image shows above average levels of sunshine for the UK, except the western flank of Scotland.
January 2022 sunshine map against the long term average

With a month of winter still to go, it has been a mild season so far, with a month still to go before the full figures for winter are released.

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