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Wettest winter for England and Wales since 1766

Early Met Office statistics for Winter 2014 show that England and Wales has already had its wettest winter in almost 250 years.

As February comes to an end provisional rainfall figures (from 1 December 2013 to 25 February 2014) confirm the UK has had its wettest winter since the national series records began in 1910.

New records have been set for many parts of the UK, with southeast and central southern England having seen well over double the rainfall expected in a normal winter.

Current record wettest winters on national records going back to 1910
CountryYearRainfall (mm)Winter 2014 to date* (mm)Previous record
UK2014517.6New record485.1 mm in 1995
Wales2014720.7New record684.1 mm in 1995
Scotland2014697New record649.5 mm in 1995
Northern Ireland1994489.7460.8

It has also been the wettest winter in the long running England and Wales Precipitation (EWP) series going back to 1766, with 435 mm of rain being recorded up to 24th February. This beats the previous record of 423 mm set in 1915.

We have seen some contrast between the south and north of the UK, with northern Scotland having received a third more rainfall than its long term average in contrast to the almost two and a half times seen in southeast and central southern England.

The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic - as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions.

So, not surprisingly the whole of the UK is on target for a warmer than average winter - typically by around 1.5 °C.

The UK average mean temperature for the winter so far is 5.2 °C making it the 5th warmest winter since the national series records began in 1910. It is the warmest since 2007 which was 5.6 °C and the record was set in 1989, which averaged 5.8 °C.

Sunshine has varied markedly across the country. Despite being so wet, south England has seen 12% more sunshine than average, while Scotland has only seen 78% of its average sunshine hours.

Rainfall anomaly 1 December 2013 to 25 February 2014Sunshine anomaly 1 December 2013 to 25 February 2014

February saw some heavy rain for much of the UK with southeast and central southern England receiving 133.3 mm, almost two and a half times the monthly average. While southwest England and south Wales received 201 mm, double the average rainfall.

Provisional Met Office statistics 1 December 2013 - 25 February 2014 *
Mean temperature (°C)Sunshine (hrs)Rainfall (mm)
ActualDifference from 81-10 averageActual % of 81-10 averageActual% of 81-10 average
Northern Ireland5.00.712987460.8146

*These are provisional figures from 1 December 2013 to 25 February 2014 and could change after final quality control checks on data.

A full summary of the weather this January will be available on the Met Office Climate summaries early in March.

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