January a month of two halves for UK weather 

2023 has started with a January of marked contrasts, which has resulted in overall near-average figures for many of the UK’s weather statistics.  

According to provisional Met Office figures, the one relatively consistent visitor was sunshine with England having its second sunniest January on record in a series which goes back to 1919. England had an average of 77.6 hours of sunshine, failing to top the record breaking 80.7 hours seen in January 2022.

The UK also had its third sunniest January on record, with an average of 63.1 hours of sunshine. 

Contrasting temperatures 

The month’s temperature figures were marginally warmer than average, with a period of mild weather at the start of the month followed by a cold spell. Later in the month, temperatures returned nearer to average, albeit with the north of the UK seeing the highest temperatures in the month.  

A map of the UK showing mean temperature anomalies. The map shows near average temperatures for much of the UK, with those in the north of England slightly milder than average.
January 2023 mean temperature

Dyce, in Aberdeenshire, had January 2023’s highest temperature with 15.8°C on 24 January, though partly thanks to the Foehn effect, it’s not uncommon for Scotland to see the highest temperature recorded in a winter month.  

Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire, posted the lowest daily minimum temperature of the month, with –10.4°C the lowest temperatures got in January.  

These contrasts helped to bring the UK mean temperature for January to 4.4°C, just 0.4°C above average.

The National Climate Information Centre Manager Dr Mark McCarthy said: “After a record-breaking 2022 for heat in the UK, January has started this year with a near-average month for temperature, which masks a period of cold weather in the middle of the month, as well as some mild weather at the start of the year. 

“The month’s weather has largely been flipping from westerlies with milder air and rain to influxes of northerly air with cold and dry weather, which is not unusual for a UK winter. What this results in is fairly typical January temperature and rainfall statistics when averaged across the whole month.” 

Fluctuating rainfall 

Similarly to the temperature figures, January 2023 saw near average rainfall for the UK with 125.7mm falling, 3% more than average.  

Map of the UK showing rainfall amount in January 2023 compared to average. The map shows near-average rainfall for much of the UK, though western areas are slightly wetter than average and North Sea coasts are slightly drier than average.
January 2023 rainfall amount

Rain in January generally coincided with the mild air and a dominant westerly regime early in January.  

Wales has seen 25% more rain than average, with 194.7mm falling in the month and England 9% more than average with 90.5mm.  

Northern Ireland and Scotland both saw less rainfall than average, with 95.2mm (83% of average) and 171.5mm (96% of average) respectively.  

Sun shines for January 

January sunshine was in good supply, though not enough to trouble 2022’s record January sunshine figures for England.  

Map of the UK showing January 2023's sunshine duration versus the average. The map shows much of the UK as sunnier than average, with only the northwest of Scotland looking particularly dull.
January 2023 sunshine duration

The UK had its third sunniest January on record in a series which dates back to 1919, though much of the UK experienced a sunnier than average month.  

Western and northern areas of Scotland got the least in the way of sunshine, with the Western Isles, a location not prone to January sunshine, having a fairly dull month, though not record-breaking.  

In contrast, Berwickshire was one of a number of counties to see record levels of January sunshine, with many seeing more than 50% more sunshine hours than their averages for the month.  

Dr Mark McCarthy continued: “One notable feature of January’s weather was the sunshine, with plenty of clear spells of weather, though not enough to trouble any national records.  

“The far northwest might feel a little short-changed with sunshine duration, as well as western areas of Northern Ireland thanks to some more persistent cloud and rain moving in off the Atlantic in January.” 

Provisional January 2023Mean temp (°C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm) 
 Actual Diff from avg (°C)Actual% of avgActual% of avg
UK 4.4 0.4 63.1133  125.2 103
England 4.9 0.5 77.6140 90.5 109
Wales 5.0 0.6 55.7118 194.7 125
Scotland 3.2 0.3 42.9122 171.5 96
N Ireland 4.9 0.4 51.1120 95.283

A typical winter so far 

Two months into meteorological winter, the statistics are remarkably near average for rainfall and sunshine so far.  

At this point in the season, you’d expect 68% of winter’s average rainfall and sunshine. At the conclusion of January, both of these are at 69%, though there have been obvious fluctuations, as is normal in a UK winter.  

So far, there has been 236.7mm of rain for the UK in winter, though areas in the south of the UK have generally seen more rain compared to their averages.  

During winter, rainfall and temperature can be closely linked, with wet weather generally linked to mild temperatures when Atlantic weather systems bring milder more unsettled conditions, and dry weather is associated with colder conditions when the UK is under the influence of air from the north or east. 

Graph showing the correlation of mild temperatures with wet weather and cool temperatures with dry weather. The graphs shows a mild and wet spell either side of the new year, with cool and dry spells either side of that.
Winter 2023 so far with mean temperature and rainfall amount

During the period between 18th December and 15th January, the UK received over 162.6% of average Jan rainfall. During this time Wales received 212.6%. This was certainly a notably wet winter period, but not record breaking, and not as wet as equivalent spells in February 2020 or Jan 2016.   

Winter so far has been slightly cooler than average for the UK with the mean temperature from December and January sitting at 3.6°C, which is 0.5°C cooler than average.

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