A mild winter blows out at the end!

Three named storms in quick succession towards the end of February ended the UK winter in dramatic fashion, but overall it was one of the mildest winters on record.

According to provisional data, it was the UK’s eighth warmest winter in terms of average temperatures recorded in a series from 1884. In terms of UK countries, by the same measure, it was the fourth warmest for both Northern Ireland and for Northern Ireland. and Wales, while England and Scotland ranked ninth. This means that half of the ten mildest winters on record have now occurred since 2010.

During February, temperatures have been around 2°C above average in most of England and Wales, and around a degree above average in southern Scotland and Northern Ireland, but just below normal in the far north.

The UK average winter temperature was 5.2°C, 1.1 degrees higher than the long-term average. The average temperature for Northern Ireland was 5.8 °C, and it was 5.9 °C for Wales, 5.7 °C for England and 4.0 °C for Scotland.

Three named storms affected the UK in the space of a week in February, the first time this has happened since the storm name was introduced in 2015/2016. Two Severe Weather Red Warnings have been issued for Storm Eunice, the most severe and damaging storm to hit England and Wales since February 2014. Winds blew over 81 mph in exposed coastal locations and a gust of 122 was recorded mph at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, setting a new gust speed record for England. Winds blew widely at more than 69 mph in southern England. These storms were part of a turbulent period of wet and windy weather in the UK, associated with a powerful jet stream.

Storms Dudley and Franklin also brought significant weather impacts. Storm Dudley caused power to be lost to thousands of homes in parts of Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire, and rail lines heading north to Glasgow and Edinburgh were disrupted. Strong winds from Franklin hampered cleanup operations after Eunice. Persistent heavy rain during this period caused significant flooding problems in parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Around 400 properties were flooded and severe flood warnings were issued for several major rivers, including the Severn. In Yorkshire, the River Wharfe burst its banks and the lines to Rotherham Central Station were flooded. However, severe coastal flooding in the Bristol Channel was fortunately averted.

The storms were triggered by an extremely active jet stream, which swept through repeated weather fronts across the UK. This contributed to a wetter-than-average February, with the UK experiencing its eighth-highest February rainfall total on record. Rainfall has exceeded the monthly average almost everywhere, with the south coast being the main exception, with numerous places exceeding double its monthly average.

However, the winter as a whole was a bit drier than average, with January in particular seeing little precipitation. However, this experienced some regional variation: while the south of the UK was very dry, parts of the north were actually somewhat wetter than average.

The eastern half of the UK saw much more sunshine than the west, with the north of England experiencing its fifth sunniest winter with 115 per cent of its average hours of sunshine, while Northern Ireland saw just 78 per cent of its average winter sun. England as a whole received 107 per cent of their average, while Scotland received 96 per cent and Wales just 90 per cent.

Dr Tim Legg of the Met Office National Climate Information Center said:

“The relative drama of the latter part of February belies the fact that most of the winter was fairly benign in terms of weather events, with relatively little frost and little wintry weather across the board.

“However, once again we have seen a warmer-than-average winter, with average temperatures for the season in the top ten warmest since records began. This continues to paint a picture consistent with climate change projections and what we expect in long-term trends for UK winter weather.”

You can read a summary of the three February storms and other significant events on our Past Weather Events page.

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Provisional February 2022 Average temperature (°C) sun (hours) Precipitation (mm)
Real Average Diff (°C) Real % of average Real % of average
United Kingdom 5.6 1.5 73.6 102 146.2 152
England 6.5 1.9 85.9 110 96.7 146
Welsh 6.4 1.9 58 84 198.1 165
Scotland 3.8 0.7 61.2 96 215.6 153
North Ireland 5.7 1 49.6 74 144.6 158
Provisional winter 2021/2 Average temperature (°C) sun (hours) Precipitation (mm)
Real Average Diff (°C) Real % of average Real % of average
United Kingdom 5.2 1.1 163.7 101 321.9 93
England 5.7 1.1 196.8 107 218.4 91
Welsh 4.9 1.3 141.8 90 453.1 100
Scotland 4 1 122.8 96 458.8 93
North Ireland 5.8 1.2 115.1 78 328.5 100

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