Early figures show it was the third warmest year in records dating back to 1884, beaten only by 2014 and 2006, and marginally warmer than 2011. It was also provisionally the sixth wettest year for the UK in records back to 1862, and the 8th sunniest year since 1919.

Professor Peter Stott, a Met Office research Fellow in climate change attribution, said: “All top-ten warmest years on record for the UK have occurred since 2002, and 2020 has continued to be consistent with this pattern. The general trend of warming as a consequence of climate change is clearly to be seen, not just at a global level, but in our own national temperature records too.”

Area Mean Temp (24-hour average) Rainfall Sunshine
° C Difference from average mm % compared to average Hours % compared to average
UK 9.62 0.77 1308.1 114 1495.2 109
England 10.58 0.92 953.8 112 1680.2 113
Wales 9.92 0.79 1680.4 115 1471.4 105
Scotland 8.00 0.58 1796.6 115 1233.0 104
Northern Ireland 9.30 0.38 1307.4 115 1272.8 101

Map showing the mean temperature and sunshine duration across the UK in 2020, compared to the 1981-2010 average. Mean temperature is highest in the South East, with an anomaly value of between 1 and 1.5 °C. Sunshine duration is varied, with much of England record more than 105% of the 1981-2010 average.

For more information on the weather events of 2020, take a look back at 2020.

December statistics

December 2020 was generally an unsettled and mild month, but some colder spells brought us a white Christmas with parts of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Yorkshire and Northumberland seeing snowfall on the 25th.


All regions of the UK received more than their expected average rainfall with some eastern areas actually exceeding their normal December rainfall by the middle of the month. South England and Wales received the most rainfall with Wales receiving 155% (256.2mm) and South England 162% (131mm). The only regions closer to normal were Western Scotland 105% (199.2mm) and Northern Ireland 113% (129mm).

It was a particularly wet month across parts of north-east Scotland and East Anglia with more than twice the normal rainfall in places. Writtle in Essex had its wettest December in 87 years while Cardiff also had a wet month with its wettest December in 72 years.

Provisional December figures for rainfall
Area Actual rainfall % of the December average
UK 162.1mm 135
England 130.6mm 150
Wales 256.2mm 155
Scotland 195.6mm 120
Northern Ireland 129.0mm 113

Map showing the amount of rainfall across the UK in December 2020, as a percentage of the 1981-2010 average. Areas of East England and East Scotland record up to 200% of the 1981-2010 average.

Heavy rains led to flooding in Bedfordshire on Christmas Eve with homes being evacuated. Storm Bella brought more heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the UK on December 26th with a wind gust of 106 mph being recorded on the Isle of Wight, the highest gust recorded in 2020. The map below shows the amount of rainfall on the 26th December.

Map showing the amount of rainfall across the UK on 26 December 2020, as a percentage of the 1981-2010 average. Northern Scotland, parts of Wales and north west England record the most rainfall, with some places recording more than 50mm.


December sunshine totals were rather below normal across many parts of the UK with Wales receiving just 28.8 hours (69%) for the month. Counties Dorset and Orkney received the most sunshine with Dorset 125% (67.6 hours) and Orkney 125% (30.2 hours).

Provisional December figures for sunshine
Area Actual rainfall % of the December average
UK 37.8 93
England 26.5 98
Wales 28.8 69
Scotland 26.1 87
Northern Ireland 34.2 93

Map of the UK showing the sunshine duration across the UK in December 2010, as a percentage of the 1981-2010 average. Most of Wales, northern England and Scotland record between 50 and 90% of the 1981-2010 average, with sunshine totals below normal across much of the UK.


Overall, the month was a mild one with mean temperatures (24 hour total) for England, Wales and Scotland between + 0.4°C and + 0.6°C warmer than average. Northern Ireland remained close to normal being -0.1°C cooler than average.

Provisional December figures for temperature
Area Maximum temperature Minimum temperature
Actual °C Difference from Dec average °C Actual °C Difference from Dec average °C
UK 6.8 0.2 1.9 0.8
England 7.4 0.2 2.2 0.7
Wales 7.4 0.2 2.4 0.7
Scotland 5.7 0.2 1.1 1.1
Northern Ireland 7.0 -0.4 1.9 0.1

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