A mild winter blows out at the end!

Three named storms in quick succession towards the end of February brought winter in the UK to a dramatic close, but as a whole it was one of the mildest winters on record. 

Based on provisional data, it was the UK’s eighth warmest winter in terms of mean temperatures on record in a series from 1884. In terms of the countries of the UK by the same measure it was fourth warmest for both Northern Ireland and Wales, while England and Scotland were both ranked ninth. This means half the top ten mildest winters on record have now occurred since 2010. 

During February temperatures have been above average by around 2 °C over most of England and Wales, and around a degree above average for southern Scotland and Northern Ireland, but just below normal for the far north.  

The UK’s mean temperature for the winter was 5.2°C, 1.1 degrees higher than the long-term average. The mean temperature for Northern Ireland was 5.8°C, and it was 5.9°C for Wales, 5.7°C for England and 4.0°C for Scotland. 

Three named storms affected the UK within the space of a week in February, the first time this has occurred since storm naming was introduced in 2015/2016. Two red severe weather warnings were issued for Storm Eunice, the most severe and damaging storm to affect England and Wales since February 2014. Winds gusted at over 81mph in exposed coastal locations and a gust of 122mph was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, setting a new gust speed record for England. Winds gusted widely at over 69mph across southern England. These storms formed part of a turbulent spell of wet and windy weather for the UK, associated with a powerful jet stream.  

Storms Dudley and Franklin also brought significant weather impacts. Storm Dudley resulted in loss of power for thousands of homes across parts of Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire, and rail lines heading north to Glasgow and Edinburgh were disrupted. The strong winds from Franklin hampered clean-up operations following Eunice. The persistent heavy rain through this spell brought significant flooding problems in parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Around 400 properties were flooded, with severe flood warnings issued for several major rivers including the Severn. In Yorkshire, the River Wharfe burst its banks and the lines at Rotherham Central station were flooded. However, fortunately severe coastal flooding in the Bristol Channel was avoided. 

The storms were brought by an extremely active jet stream, that swept repeated weather fronts across the UK. This contributed to a wetter than average February, with the UK seeing its eighth highest February rainfall total on record. Rainfall has exceeded the monthly average almost everywhere, the south coast being the main exception, and numerous places have exceeded double their monthly average. 

However, winter as a whole was slightly drier than average, with January in particular seeing low rainfall. This did see some regional variations though – while the south of the UK was very dry, some parts of the north were actually somewhat wetter than average. 

The eastern half of the UK saw much more sunshine than the west, with the north of England actually seeing its fifth sunniest winter ever with 115 per cent of its average sunshine hours, while Northern Ireland saw only 78 per cent of its average winter sunshine. England as a whole received 107 per cent of its average, while Scotland saw 96 per cent and Wales only 90 per cent. 

Dr Tim Legg of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said: 

“The relative drama of the latter part of February belies the fact that the majority of the winter was fairly benign in terms of weather events, with relatively few frosts and little widespread wintry weather.  

“However, once again we have seen a winter warmer than average, with the season’s average temperatures in the top ten warmest since records began. This continues to paint a picture consistent with climate change projections and what we expect in long-term trends for the UK’s winter weather.” 

You can read a summary of the three February storms and other significant events on our Past Weather Events page. 

Check the latest forecast for your area on our website, by following us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on our mobile app which is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from the Google Play store.  

Keep track of current weather warnings on the weather warning page.    

For more information on how to prepare for severe weather, please visit our WeatherReady advice

Provisional February 2022Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm) 
 Actual Diff from avg (°C)Actual% of avgActual% of avg
UK 5.6 1.5 73.6102  146.2 152
England 6.5 1.9 85.9110 96.7 146
Wales 6.4 1.9 5884 198.1 165
Scotland 3.8 0.7 61.296 215.6 153
N Ireland 5.7 1 49.674 144.6 158
Provisional Winter 2021/2Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm) 
 Actual Diff from avg (°C)Actual% of avgActual% of avg
UK 5.2 1.1 163.7101  321.9 93
England 5.7 1.1 196.8107 218.4 91
Wales 4.9 1.3 141.890 453.1 100
Scotland 4 1 122.896 458.8 93
N Ireland 5.8 1.2 115.178 328.5 100
This entry was posted in Met Office News. Bookmark the permalink.