UK 2019 summary

A wetter than average year overall despite a relatively dry start. Winter 2018-19 was generally anticyclonic after a changeable December, becoming extraordinarily mild in late February with numerous all-time records set. Spring was more mixed with an unsettled start but drier later on. Summer was unusual in being dominated by high latitude blocking but managed to be warm whilst being wet. Despite this, the summer included up to 3 exceptional heatwaves, one of which set the all-time UK record maximum temperature beating the August 2003 record. It was the warmest-wetter than average summer since records began in 1884. Autumn 2019 was very wet with the jet stream being further south than normal. The year ended on an appropriate note with a new record December maximum temperature set in Scotland but December 2019 was not as mild as December 2018. 

 

January. Generally drier than average (driest since 1997) with the anticyclonic spell that began in mid-December continuing into the first half of January. This brought anticyclonic gloom however to vast majority but the month had average sunshine overall despite this away from the southwest where parts of Cornwall had their dullest January on record. Temperatures were also close to average (Central England Temperature (CET) of 4.0°C), though milder over Northern Ireland, with the first half on the mild side and a much cooler second half. A cold front pushed southwards on the 16th and introduced colder air with light to moderate snow showers falling in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These snowfalls resulted in road closures for Scotland on the 17th. Malham Tarn (North Yorkshire) measured a snow depth of 16cm on the 23rd. The snow showers would become more widespread as the month went on with the exception of a temporary but very mild period from the 24th-26th. This brought the highest temperature of the month with 14.2°C at Slapton (Devon) on the 25th. More polar maritime incursions occurred following this with the coldest period of the winter setting up for the final week of January. A feature pushed in from the southwest on the 29th into the 30th and this resulted in heavy snowfalls across Wales, southwest and southern England with parts of the midlands being affected too. Road accidents, road closures and treacherous driving conditions were in large numbers across the regions named as well as parts of Scotland. Liverpool and Manchester Airport runways were closed for several hours due to snow on the 30th. As skies cleared and winds died down, freezing fog became an issue on the 31st causing delays at airports including Stansted and Norwich. Braemar (Highland) observed -14.3°C on the morning of the 31st. Further trouble was brewing from the southwest as another feature progressed northeastwards across southern England on the evening of the 31st into the 1st February.

February. The month started off on the wintry side with snow and ice delaying transport services. The minimum temperature was -15.4°C at Braemar (Highland) on the 1st, the lowest in the UK for any month since February 2012. Tomnavoulin (Morayshire) recorded a snow depth of 33cm on the 2nd. These wintry conditions were very much an exception though with the rest of the month becoming milder and milder. It started off changeable with westerly winds from the 4th to 12th including 1 named storm (Storm Erik) on the 8th which brought a max wind gust of 84 mph at Capel Curig (Gwynedd). High pressure started to ridge in from France into the east of the country from the 13th forcing the wind to veer to a southerly direction. Colwyn Bay (Clwyd) measured a maximum temperature of 18.2°C on the 15th. Some fronts affected the north and west at times, notably on the 19th, but it was largely anticyclonic up to the 27th. This resulted in February being a drier than average month, with the UK having 82% of its average rainfall, but not exceptionally so. February was a very sunny month with the UK having its second sunniest on record (behind only 2008, records since 1929) and 144% of average. It was the sunniest on record for England. Last but not least, there was an outstanding warm spell from the 21st to 27th which resulted in record breaking temperatures. This began with a new February record for Scotland with 18.3°C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on the 21st, beating a long-standing record of 17.9°C at Aberdeen (Aberdeenshire) on 22 February 1897. Colwyn Bay (Clwyd) recorded 18.6°C on the 22nd, 18.2°C at Colwyn Bay (Clwyd) on the 23rd, 19.1°C at Gogerddan (Dyfed) on the 24th, 20.6°C at Trawsgoed (Dyfed), Teddington (Middlesex) and Bushy Park (Middlesex) on the 25th, 21.2°C at Kew Gardens (Greater London) on the 26th and 19.2°C at Heathrow (Greater London) on the 27th. The 25th seen the first ever 20.0°C to occur in the UK during the meteorological winter (December to February) season whilst the 26th seen the first ever winter 21.0°C in recorded history. The previous February record of 19.7°C at Greenwich on 13 February 1998 was broken a few times by multiple stations on the 25th and 26th February 2019! To end off the records, Achnagart (Highland) observed a minimum temperature of 13.9°C on the 23rd, a new record for Scotland and the UK during February. It was the second mildest February on record for the UK back to 1884 with a mean temperature of 6.0°C (only behind 6.8°C in February 1998) whilst it was the mildest since 2002 for the CET with 6.7°C. 

March. After a largely settled winter, the westerlies were back in business during the first half of March. This made for very wet conditions for nearly all with the north and west having their wettest March since 1994. With 129.1mm of rainfall (140% of average), it was the UK's 7th wettest March since 1862. The month contained two named storms, Storm Freya on the 3rd/4th and Storm Gareth on the 12th/13th. Snowfalls were reported associated with Freya in northern England. The month's highest wind gust was 81 mph at the Needles (Isle of Wight) on the 16th. There were more light snowfalls for the midlands around the 10th. The second half of the month was often dry after the 17th with high pressure in dominant control but cloudy at first before becoming sunnier after the 23rd. It was a sunny month overall as a result but not exceptionally so with 114% of average, Marches 2015 and 2012 were sunnier in recent times. It was a mild month too with a CET of 7.8°C but not as mild as March 2012 or 2017. The maximum temperature during March was 19.8°C at Kew Gardens (Greater London) on the 26th, unusually lower than the preceding February max. temperature. The minimum temperature was -6.9°C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on the 5th.

April. Dry and mild overall with a CET of 9.1°C (not as mild as April 2018) but very mixed with an unsettled and cool start, a dry middle including a very warm Easter period and an unsettled end. Northwesterly to northerly winds brought plenty of spring showers at the beginning including a mix of rain, sleet and snow. Warcop Range (Cumbria) observed a snow depth of 13cm on the 3rd. Easterly winds were the dominance from the 5th to 18th and though initially unsettled at first to the 9th, it turned drier. Conditions were cold between the 10th and 16th and frosts were aplenty. The lowest minimum for April was on the 10th with -6.8°C at Braemar (Highland). This would be followed though by a warm and at times record-breaking warm Easter period from the 18th to 23rd. The maximum temperature of the month was 25.8°C at Treknow (Cornwall) on Good Friday (19th), the highest temperature set during the Easter weekend since 2011. Gosport (Hampshire) recorded 25.5°C on Easter Saturday (20th), Fontmell Magna (Dorset) recorded 25.1°C on Easter Sunday (21st) - a new Easter Sunday record for the UK, and 25.0°C was measured at numerous stations on Easter Monday (22nd) including Heathrow (Greater London) and Wisley (Surrey). Porthmadog (Gwynedd) also observed 24.8°C on the 23rd. For the CET, it was the 3rd warmest Easter period (Good Friday to Easter Monday) since daily records began in 1772 behind only Easter 1949 and Easter 2011. Low pressure invaded from the southwest from the 24th with Storm Hannah bringing strong winds on the 26th and 27th including a max gust of 82 mph at Aberdaron (Gwynedd) on the 26th. It was a very dry April in the southeast of England, East Anglia and western Scotland but rain was near normal elsewhere so UK was 71% of average rainfall overall. It was also relatively sunny away from Northern Ireland and southwestern Britain with 114% of average. 

May. A relatively cool and dry month away from Scotland with northeastern regions here having their wettest May since 2011. CET was 11.1°C for May 2019 which wasn't too far from average but was still the coolest May since 2015. The month was mixed with dry weather being the main theme but never the true foothold outside of the 12th to 15th associated with a notable anticyclone that brought the warmest conditions of the month. It was largely a northerly month with the lowest temperature being -6.2°C at Kinbrace (Sutherland) on the 7th whilst Kinlochwere (Ross and Cromarty) recorded 25.8°C on the 15th. Low pressure on the 8th gave the highest wind gust of 55 mph at the Needles (Isle of Wight). Sunshine was close to average with 101% for the UK as a whole but with regional variation; Northern Ireland and Scotland tended to be cloudy but southwest England and south Wales had a sunny May. It was mostly not as sunny as May 2018. 

June. A month of contrasting halves with the first half generally on the wet and very cool side besides a warm first few days whilst the second half tended to be drier and warmer with a hot day on the 29th when the maximum temperature reached 34.0°C at Northolt (Greater London) but only have to go back to June 2017 to find a higher June maximum temperature in the UK despite being well above average. Nevertheless, 29 June 2019 had the highest daily CET max on record for June with 30.6°C beating the previous record of 30.3°C on 28 June 1976. Unusually cool days with heavy falls of rain were associated with a cool northeasterly flow during the period 10th-13th. Local flooding was an issue with Wainfleet (Lincolnshire) recording 74.6mm on the 10th into the 11th. The maximum temperature did not rise above 7.8°C at Pennerley (Shropshire) all day on the 11th. The 11th June 2019 was the coolest June CET day since 2012. The CET for June 2019 was 14.2°C which is slightly above average but this is all the result of the warm final week with the first half being the coolest since 1991. Even with this, it was still the coolest June since 2015. The lowest value reached during the month was -0.3°C at Redesdale (Northumberland) and St. Harmon (Powys) on the 10th. It was a wetter than average June but not exceptionally so with wetter Junes in 2012 and 2017 for recent context. Sunshine was slightly below average overall thanks to a sunnier final week, with 95% of average UK sunshine. What was most notable about this month was the record-breaking 850hPa temperatures associated with the warm spell in the final week with Camborne (Cornwall) observing a sounding of 24.8°C early on the 28th at 850hPa, a new record high 850hPa temperature for the UK.

July. A warm month with a CET of 17.5°C but not as hot as July 2018. The first half wasn't anything special temperature wise but it was largely dry with parts of the south and west observing absolute drought conditions. There were outbreaks of heavy showers and thunderstorms around the 11th however with some of these resulting in significant surface water flooding in Dingwall (Highland) and Manchester. The second half was more changeable whilst including an exceptional in any terms hot spell from the 22nd to 25th with every day having a maximum temperature of 30.0°C or more somewhere in the UK. This hot spell produced new all-time UK temperature records, not just for July but for any month. These included 38.7°C at Cambridge Botanic Gardens (Cambridgeshire) on the 25th, over 2.0°C above the previous July record of 36.7°C set as recently as 2015, beating the August 2003 record of 38.5°C. 30.5°C at Cavendish (Suffolk) was reached on the 22nd, 33.7°C at Northolt (Greater London) on the 23rd and 34.3°C at Writtle (Essex) on the 24th. Part of the A11 had to be closed due to the road surface melting. The lowest temperature seen was -0.4°C at Altnaharra (Sutherland) on the 8th. It was a wetter than average month for the UK overall with 114% of average but the vast majority of this fell within the final week of the month following the breakdown of the hot spell. There were severe thunderstorms on the 24th to 26th with lightning causing delays and cancellations to rail services. Between 10 to 20,000 properties suffered power cuts with some buildings struck by the lightning. Field and gorse fires became an issue too in the heat. Heavy rain fell in northern England and southern Scotland on the 27th and 28th with various roads including the A77 closing due to flooding. Sunshine was bang on average overall but southwestern England tended to be on the sunnier than average side.

August. Another generally warm month but very wet at times, especially in the north and west. The CET was 17.1°C making it the warmest August since 2004. With 153% of average rainfall, it was the wettest August since 2014 for the UK and Scotland had its wettest August since 1992. The month can be divided into three periods; a warm and changeable first week, a cooler and unsettled middle period and warm to hot final week. The hot spell coincided with the late August Bank Holiday period and provided record high temperatures with 33.4°C at Heathrow (Greater London) on the 27th. It was the hottest late August Bank Holiday Monday since the holiday was brought forward in 1971 with a maximum temperature of 33.2°C at Heathrow (Greater London) on Monday 26th, beating the previous record of 28.2°C on 28 August 2017. To round off the high temperatures, Heathrow (Greater London) also recorded 33.3°C on the 25th, the overall record for the late August Bank Holiday weekend. The lowest temperature during the month was 2.0°C at Katesbridge (Co. Down) on the 13th. It was a relatively sunny month with 107% of average with parts of Northern Ireland and eastern England tending to be sunniest places relative to average. 

September. Anticyclonic up to the 21st generally, bar weak fronts bringing outbreaks of rain from the west in the first week, with plenty of dry weather and even absolute drought conditions for some in the south and southwest. Despite this, it was a wetter than average month with 127% of average for the UK as a whole due to a very wet final third to the month. This wet final third to September would provide a fundamental change to the weather pattern in the UK for at least the next 6 months. Fontmell Magna (Dorset) recorded 59.4mm on the 24th. It was a relatively mild month but not exceptionally so with a CET of 14.3°C, still the warmest since 2016. The highest temperature was 27.7°C at Weybourne (Norfolk) on the 22nd whilst the lowest was -1.6°C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on the 8th. September was sunnier than average with England and Wales being sunniest places to average. The UK total was 115% of average overall for sunshine with the period 12th-20th being exceptionally sunny. Most days during this period had unbroken sunshine widespread. This meant nights were cool in nature but relatively warm days then.

October. Largely unsettled with the south having the wettest conditions to average due to a more southerly track of the jet stream compared to normal. The north tended to be a bit drier than average as a result where it also would usually be on the sunny side. Rainfall was 109% of average overall for the UK so not an especially wet month away from local regions such as Yorkshire and Cornwall. However, even so it was the wettest October since 2014; a reflection of the dry Octobers since 2015. It was the coolest October since 2012 with a CET of 10.0°C. The highest temperature was 21.3°C at Trawsgoed (Dyfed) on the 1st and the lowest being -6.2°C at Altnaharra (Sutherland) on the 31st. 101.0mm of rain fell at Lebanus (Powys) in the 24-hour period ending at 0900 GMT on the 26th. 

November. Colder than average with a CET of 6.2°C, coldest since 2016. Mean maximum temperatures tended to have higher deviations from average rather than mean minimum temperatures away from western Scotland where the latter were between 1-2°C below average. The highest temperature was 16.9°C at North Wyke (Devon) whilst the lowest was -9.9°C at Braemar (Highland) on the 19th. Rainfall was close to average for the UK overall with 97% of average but with huge regional variation. The Midlands, northeast England and eastern Scotland tended to be exceptionally wet with these regions having their wettest November since 2009. 63.8mm fell in the 24-hour period ending at 0900 GMT on the 8th in Sheffield (South Yorkshire). It was overall the wettest autumn on record at Sheffield (South Yorkshire) since records began in 1882. In contrast, northwestern Scotland had well below average rainfall and it was the driest November here since 1990. This was, like October, indicative of a southerly tracking jet stream. Sunshine was well below average with 84% of average for the UK as a whole but western Scotland tended to be sunnier. It was not as dull as November 2015.

December. Dominated by westerlies with changeable conditions after a settled first few days which also brought the coldest conditions of the month including a minimum of -10.3°C at Tulloch Bridge (Inverness-shire) on the 1st. The 1st-5th December 2019 provided amazing sunrises and sunsets.  Low pressure broke from the Atlantic after the 5th with some high daily rainfalls recorded for the next three weeks including 135.0mm at Seathwaite (Cumbria) in the 24-hour period ending at 0900 GMT on the 6th. A Euro high set up for the final week of December with drier weather on offer but also some exceptionally high temperatures. A maximum temperature of 18.7°C was recorded at Achfary (Sutherland) on the 28th, a new December record for the UK. The CET was well above average at 5.8°C but it was not as mild as recent Decembers such as 2015, 2016 and 2018. Rainfall was 116% of average with it being a very wet month for East Anglia and southern England as further floods continued from the exceptionally wet autumn. A temporary cooler spell from the 14th to 16th brought snow showers to some including a snow depth of 25cm at Malham Tarn (North Yorkshire) on the 16th. Sunshine was 113% of average with eastern regions sunnier than the west. Storm Atiyah, the first UK named storm of the 2019-20 windstorm season, brought a max wind gust of 83 mph at the Needles (Isle of Wight) on the 8th.