Average December finishes a warm 2011

You often see rainbows when the weather is showery

30 December 2011 - Provisional figures from the Met Office reveal temperatures this December have been close to average, but 2011 overall is the second warmest year on record for the UK.

The mean temperature so far this December has been 4.7 °C, 0.5 °C above the 1971-2000 average. This is a big swing from 2010, when temperatures were 5 °C below average to notch up the coldest December on record.

John Prior, National Climate Manager at the Met Office, said: "While it may have felt mild for many so far this December, temperatures overall have been close to what we would expect.

"It may be that the stark change from last year, which was the coldest December on record for the UK, has led many to think it has been unseasonably warm."

Provisional Dec 2011Mean temperature (deg C)Sunshine durationPrecipitation
ActualDifference from normal (71-00)Actual (hours)Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)Actual (mm)Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)
UK4.70.540.6106146.4117
England5.50.852.511889.399
Wales5.81.028.073194.7112
Scotland3.0-0.126.792230.9136
Northern Ireland4.70.026.678132.3112

The trend of marked differences from one year to the next continues with the annual figures for 2011 - which show the year is expected to be the second warmest on record for the UK.

Up to 28 December, 2011 currently has an average temperature of 9.62 °C. This is a big change from 2010, which was the 12th coldest year on record with 7.97 °C.

However, this year marks a return to a trend of warmer than average annual temperatures - all the UK's top seven warmest years happened in the last decade, with 2006 leading the list with 9.73 °C.

2011 saw some UK records broken too. It was the warmest April and Spring on record, and the second warmest Autumn on record.

The highest single-day temperature for October was also broken - with Gravesend in Kent notching up 29.9 °C on 1 October, beating the previous record of 29.4 °C at March in Cambridgeshire on 1 October 1985.

The top temperature in 2011 was 33.1 °C on 27 June at Gravesend in Kent - which was the warmest temperature recorded in the UK for five years.

There have been some marked variations in rainfall in 2011, with Scotland having its wettest year on record with 1859.5mm of rain (beating the previous record set in 1990). On the other hand, some parts of England have had very low levels of rainfall - East Anglia had its second driest year on record with 449mm of rain and the Midlands its third driest with 586.5mm.

Provisional 2011Mean temperature (deg C)Sunshine durationPrecipitation
ActualDifference from normal (71-00)Actual (hours)Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)Actual (mm)Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)
UK9.621.031416.31051157.6102.8
England10.551.181563.9107707.484.3
Wales9.890.991465.51061272.688.6
Scotland8.040.851182.61001859.5122.2
Northern Ireland9.340.661274.81031237.9111.3

Contact information

Met Office Press Office: +44 (0)1392 886655

E-mail: Press Office

Met Office Customer Centre: 0870 900 0100

If you're outside the UK: +44 1392 885680

Last updated: 30 December 2011