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A year in weather statistics

Provisional statistics published by the Met Office reveal that, with three days to go, 2016 is 13th warmest year in the UK in the series going back to 1910.

The mean temperature for the UK for 2016 is expected to reach 9.3 °C. The warmest year in the UK since 1910 was 2014 with an average temperature of 9.9 °C.

All UK regions recorded higher than average temperatures for the year, but East Anglia has been among the warmest with annual average temperatures being 0.6 °C above the 1981–2010 long-term annual average which would make it the 8th warmest for the region. When compared with the average figures from the climate period 1981–2010, the warmest months in 2016 have included September and December, which have each seen UK values at least 2 °C above the long-term average. East Anglia, in particular enjoyed a very mild September with the average temperature 2.7 °C above the long-term average for the month. All UK regions recorded lower than average temperatures in April and November.

Rainfall for each UK region for 2016 is comparable with the average annual values. However, within the ‘average year’ we have had some extremely dry and wet months. The UK recorded much drier than average conditions in October and December with both months recording less than the anticipated rainfall for each month (38 % and 58 %, respectively).  The wetter months of 2016 (when compared with the average from 1981–2010) for the UK were January and June (148 % and 139 %, respectively).  January’s rainfall was due to low-pressure weather systems coming from the Atlantic, but June’s rainfall was largely because of heavy thunderstorms. East Anglia recorded twice the amount of rainfall in June, when compared with the long-term average.

Dr Mark McCarthy is the manager of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. Commenting on this year’s figures, he said: “Overall, for the UK, 2016 has been warmer than average, but close to average for rainfall. However, as is normally the case, to appreciate the year in full you need to look at the detail. In particular, the last quarter of the year has been notably dry for parts of the UK, particularly for south-east England.”

December 2016

Although the statistics for the whole of December aren’t yet available, using statistics up to 28th it is clear that it has been quite a dry month for all parts of the UK, when compared with the 1981–2010 long-term average.

The lowest rainfall total during December for any UK region is for South East England where only 18 mm of rain has been recorded so far. This figure is less than one quarter of the amount expected during the month. As it stands the south east is fourth driest December since records began in 1910. So far England as a whole has only recorded 37 % of the average December rainfall. The corresponding rainfall figures for other UK countries are: while Wales (47 %); Scotland (78 %) and Northern Ireland (62 %).

Provisional mean temperature statistics for December show that all parts of the UK have been warmer than the long-term average. Overall, the UK has been 2.1 °C warmer than the 1981–2010 average. Scotland has been even warmer with mean temperatures 2.5 °C above the long-term average. The corresponding mean temperature figures for other UK countries, when compared with the long-term average, are: England (+1.8 °C); Wales (+1.9 °C); Northern Ireland (+1.8 °C). Full month figures will be available early in January 2017.

Dr Mark McCarthy added: “When looking at the figures for December 2016 it has been mild and dry, which climatologically is a relatively rare combination because typically mild Decembers are wet, and cold Decembers are dry. For example if we look back at December last year, which was the warmest December on record, the month also recorded the highest rainfall figures of any calendar month in records going back to 1910.”

Globally 2016 is projected to be one of the warmest two years on record – with 2015 – in a series stretching back to 1850. The final year-end figures will be calculated in 2017 when climate scientists will know whether 2016 will have beaten 2015.

Table 1: weather statistics for 2016 by UK country and region.

Table 2: weather statistics for December 2016 by UK country and region.

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