storm wave

Topsy turvy temperatures

10 December 2011

With a fairly cool summer followed by a sunny spell in October that produced new record temperatures, you could be forgiven for thinking that things were back to front.

After a generally fine, warm start to July, the weather became unsettled, cool with heavy, sometimes prolonged showers across northern areas. A brief settled period was followed by more cool, unsettled conditions. The last week saw higher temperatures and drier weather, but still with plenty of cloud.

Overall, mean temperatures ranged from about 1 °C below average over England and Wales to about 0.5 °C below over Scotland. Several chilly nights made it the coldest July across the UK since 1980.

Rainfall was close to average but with significant regional variation. Sunshine was generally close to or below average, especially across parts of southern England, but it was sunnier than normal over Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland.

Heavy rain in early August led to flooding across Scotland, particularly in Aberdeenshire, which disrupted both road and rail transport. We worked with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) through the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service to advise emergency responders in Scotland. Met Office Public Weather Service Advisors supported Scotland's Strategic Coordinating and Tactical Groups and also briefed ministers in the Scottish Government Cabinet Sub-Committee.

August was another cool month with cloud cover keeping daytime temperatures down. Mean temperatures ranged from about 0.3 °C below the average over eastern England and the Midlands to about 0.8 °C below over Northern Ireland, much of Scotland and parts of western England and Wales.

It was the coolest August since 1993 across Scotland and Northern Ireland, but similar to August 2010 across England and Wales. Rainfall was highly variable, but it was a dull month everywhere, with sunshine totals around 75% of normal.

Changeable weather in September brought showers and longer spells of rain, especially in the North West. The mean temperature was 1.5 °C above the average, bringing the warmest September since 2006 and the equal sixth warmest in the last 100 years.

In mid-September, an area of low pressure containing the remnants of tropical storm Katia brought stormy weather to the UK. The storm left its mark, damaging property with wind speeds of up to 80 miles per hour in northern and western parts of the UK.

In many areas, September ended with warm sunshine which continued into October. There were exceptionally high temperatures for the time of year with a new record temperature for October of 29.9 °C, recorded at Gravesend in Kent on 1 October. It just beat the previous record of 29.4 °C recorded at March in Cambridgeshire, which had stood since 1 October 1985. Wales also had a new national record of 28.2 °C recorded at Hawarden, Flintshire.

The new records came at the end of an increasingly hot week across many parts of the UK, which made it feel like things were a bit topsy turvy. The high temperatures made the end of September and start of October feel much more like summer than July and August.

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