Second Warmest Year on Record for the United Kingdom

Provisional figures released by the United Kingdom’s Met Office reveal that while December may have been closer to average temperatures in 2011, the year as a whole was the second warmest on record.

The Met Office, the nation’s meteorological service, released their preliminary figures on the 30th of December, 2011, showing that the mean temperature for December was 4.7 °C, 0.5 °C above the 1971-2000 average. This is a big jump from the previous year when temperatures were 5 °C below average, ranking December 2010 as the coldest December on record.


“While it may have felt mild for many so far this December, temperatures overall have been close to what we would expect,” said John Prior, National Climate Manager at the Met Office. “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 2011 Mean temperature (deg C) Sunshine duration Precipitation
Actual Difference from normal (71-00) Actual (hours) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%) Actual (mm) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)
UK 4.7 0.5 40.6 106 146.4 117
England 5.5 0.8 52.5 118 89.3 99
Wales 5.8 1.0 28.0 73 194.7 112
Scotland 3.0 -0.1 26.7 92 230.9 136
Northern Ireland 4.7 0.0 26.6 78 132.3 112


Up to the 28th of December, 2011, the average temperature had been 9.62 °C, up from 2010’s  7.97 °C which placed it a the 12th coldest year on record. This returns the United Kingdom to above average temperatures. All of the UK’s top seven warmest years have taken place within the last decade, with 2006 topping out at 9.73 °C.

On top of that, there are other records that 2011 has helped to break as well. 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 highest temperature for the whole of 2011 was  33.1 °C on 27 June at Gravesend in Kent, which ranks in as the highest temperature recorded in the UK for five years.

Authors note – At the time of writing this article, it was 37.7°C here in Melbourne, Australia so, in short, suck it up Brits!

Provisional 2011 Mean temperature (deg C) Sunshine duration Precipitation
Actual Difference from normal (71-00) Actual (hours) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%) Actual (mm) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)
UK 9.62 1.03 1416.3 105 1157.6 102.8
England 10.55 1.18 1563.9 107 707.4 84.3
Wales 9.89 0.99 1465.5 106 1272.6 88.6
Scotland 8.04 0.85 1182.6 100 1859.5 122.2
Northern Ireland 9.34 0.66 1274.8 103 1237.9 111.3

Scotland had its wettest year on record with 1859.5mm of rain (beating the previous record set in 1990). Conversely, some parts of England had extremely low levels of rainfall, with East Anglia experiencing its second driest year on record with only 449mm of rain and the Midlands its third driest with 586.5mm.

Source: Met Office
Image Source: only alice on Flickr

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