UK's December 2015 breaks records for both rainfall and temperature

UK's December 2015 breaks records for both rainfall and temperature

The UK Met Office has confirmed today that December 2015 has broken records for both rainfall and temperature.

"The month was not only the wettest December on record, but also the wettest calendar month overall since the records began in 1910," Met Office said. "Looking at the data for the whole year, 2015 was the sixth wettest year on record."

The provisional UK mean temperature for December 2015 was 7.9 °C (46.2 °F), which is 4.1 °C (39.4 °F) above the 1981-2010 long-term average, making it the warmest December in a series from 1910. This was 1.0 °C (33.8 °F) warmer than the previous warmest December (6.9 °C (44.4 °F) set in 1934). It was also easily the warmest December in the Central England temperature (CET) series from 1659.

Mean temperatures were 5 to 6 °C (41 to 42.8  °F) above average in southern England, and remarkably, no stations in Wales or central southern England recorded any air frosts; temperatures were often comparable with those that might be expected in October, April, or even May.

With 191% of average rainfall, it was provisionally the wettest December, and calendar month, in the UK series. Rainfall reached 2 to 4 times the average in the west and north, and the severe flooding was exacerbated by saturated ground conditions following very wet weather in November in these areas. Fortunately, rainfall totals were close to average over much of central and southern England.

There were only 73% of average hours of bright sunshine, and it was provisionally the dullest December since 1989.

*Data from the Met Office's UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

There has been a marked contrast in rainfall across the UK.

It has been the wettest December on record for Scotland (351 mm / 13.81 inches), and for Wales (359 mm / 14.13 inches) and the 2nd wettest for Northern Ireland with 221 mm (8.70 inches), just behind 1919 which recorded 224 mm (8.81 inches).

*Data from the Met Office's UK digitised records dating back to 1910.

North west England has also seen record-breaking December rainfall, while for central and southern England it has been average.

The overall UK figure is influenced largely by the fact that Scotland, Wales and north west England have had an unusually wet year - 2015 end up being the second-wettest year since 1910 for Scotland, with only 2011 having been wetter.

The UK monthly extremes for December 2015 were as follows:

  • A maximum temperature of 17.2 °C (62.9 °F) was recorded at Teignmouth (Devon), Achnagart and Plockton (both Highland), all on the 16th.
  • A minimum temperature of -8.7 °C (16.3 °F) was recorded at Dalwhinnie (Inverness-shire) on the 13th.
  • In the 24 hours ending at 09:00 UTC on the 6th, 264.4 mm (10.40 inches) of rain fell at Thirlmere (Cumbria).
  • 341.4 mm (13.44 inchesfell at Honister Pass (Cumbria) in 24 hours to 18:00 UTC on the 5th, a new UK record for any 24-hours.
  • A wind gust of 157.7 km/h (98 mph) was recorded at Needles (Wight) on the 31st.
  • A snow depth of 16 cm (6.29 inches) was measured at Aviemore (Inverness-shire) on the 14th.

Source: UK Met Office

Featured image credit: UK Met Office

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