May headlines

  • 5th warmest May on record, by mean temperature
  • Highest average daily minimum temperatures for May on record
  • Below-average sunshine hours

According to a series that goes back to 1884, May 2022 was the fifth warmest on record, thanks largely to record-breaking overnight temperatures, with northern and western areas recording particularly high overnight temperatures for the time of year.

Mean temperatures for the UK stood at 11.8°C, some 1.2°C above the long-term average, but these figures were largely spurred on by average minimum temperatures of 7.8°C, which is 1.5°C above average.

Maps showing mean min and max temperatures for May 2022

Average maximum temperatures for the month were 0.8°C above average, which is not enough to trouble any temperature records. The highest individual temperature recorded in the month was 27.5°C at Heathrow on 17 May.

Interestingly, despite the high mean temperatures, the number of sunshine hours has been below average for the month, with northern and western areas being particularly dull. Sunshine hours were down by around a fifth from the long-term average, with 152.8 hours in the UK.

Map showing sunshine hours for May 2022

Rainfall amounts for the month were near-average for the UK, albeit with quite a marked difference between different areas. England had 50.7mm of rain (89% of average), Wales 63.2mm (73% of average), Scotland 118.3mm (133% of average) and Northern Ireland 89mm (120% of average).

Going even more granular, the north of Scotland saw 54% more rainfall than average with 148mm of rain in the month.

Map showing rainfall for May 2022

Dr Mark McCarthy of the National Climate Information Centre said: “High minimum temperatures are the most notable statistic coming from May’s provisional figures, helping to bring mean temperatures for the month into the top five on record for May.

“Cloud cover has been one part of the picture for the higher-than-average minimum temperatures, with overcast skies helping to lock some heat in through the night, especially in northern and western areas. Warmer air from the continent has helped keep minimum temperatures up in the south and despite that lack of daytime sunshine, maximum temperatures have remained above-average for most, although without any prolonged spells of very high daytime temperatures.”

End of May statistics

Maximum temp Minimum temp Mean temp Rainfall Sunshine
Area Actual temp (°C) Anomaly (°c) Actual temp (°C) Anomaly (°C) Actual temp (°C) Anomaly (°C) Actual (mm) Anomaly (%) Actual (hours) Anomaly (%)
UK 15.9 0.8 7.8 1.5 11.8 1.2 75.7 107 152.8 79
England 17.3 1.1 8.3 1.3  12.8 1.2 50.7 89 170.3 85
Wales 15.7 0.5 8.0 1.4 11.8 1.0 63.2 73 146.4 77
Scotland 13.8 0.4 6.8 1.9 10.2 1.1 118.3 133 128.7 71

N. Ireland

15.5 0.7 8.1 1.9 11.9 1.4 89.0 120 132.1 72


Spring headlines 

  • 5th warmest Spring by mean temperature
  • Around a quarter less rain than average
  • Varied sunshine figures through the season

The warm theme continues when looking at Spring as a whole (March, April and May). The UK had its fifth warmest spring on record according to mean temperature, with England (5th), Scotland (6th), Northern Ireland (7th) and Wales (7th) all seeing average temperatures in their top 10 warmest since the series began in 1884.

UK average mean temperatures for the season stood at 8.87°C, which is 0.8°C above the long-term average. That warm theme was replicated across the UK with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all seeing mean temperatures over 0.7°C above their long-term averages.

Map showing mean temperature for Spring 2022

Rainfall was in short supply in March and April, with 58% and 68% of average rainfall for the UK respectively during these months. Despite May seeing rainfall closer to average for the UK, rainfall for the season is still down by around a quarter, with 174.1mm of rain (76% of average). Only northern areas of Scotland and some of Northern Ireland got nearer to their average rainfall totals for the season, with a fairly dry season for almost anywhere else in the UK, although not dry enough to trouble any records.

Map showing rainfall for Spring 2022

Hours of sunshine were the most varied of the statistics through the three-month period. The UK had its sunniest March since 1929 and its second sunniest overall (records date back to 1919), while April also saw above average sunshine levels. However, May saw a slump in the figures with fairly frequent cloud cover, especially in the north.

Maps showing March, April and May sunshine hours for the UK.

This has resulted in near-average sunshine figures for Spring as a whole, the UK seeing around 6% more sunshine in the season than average, with 485 hours of sunshine. Sunniest areas for the season were found in the east, while western areas of Scotland were generally slightly behind their average figures for the season.

Map showing sunshine for Spring 2022

Mark McCarthy of the National Climate Information Centre said: “Spring 2022 has been rather warmer, drier and sunnier than the average Spring overall, with only a few interludes of more unsettled spells of weather.

“Eastern coasts have been the sunniest relative to average, while the season has been fairly dry, despite  closer to average rainfall in May.”

End of Spring statistics

Maximum temp Minimum temp Mean temp Rainfall Sunshine
Area Actual temp (°C) Anomaly (°c) Actual temp (°C) Anomaly (°C) Actual temp (°C) Anomaly (°C) Actual (mm) Anomaly (%) Actual (hours) Anomaly (%)
UK 13.22 1.09 4.55 0.48 8.87 0.80 174.1 76 485.0 106
England 14.28 1.16 5.18 0.54 9.74 0.86 117.3 68 523.5 109
Wales 13.34 1.1 4.75 0.31 9.05 0.74 161.4 58 465.7 102
Scotland 11.46 1.02 3.4 0.41 7.39 0.72 265.9 87 425.7 101

N. Ireland

13.01 0.90 4.70 0.50 8.86 0.72 209.6 89 481.7 111