UK’s coldest December for 100 years

Press Association – January 5, 2011

Last month was the chilliest December in 100 years and one of the coldest months ever recorded in the UK, the Met Office said today.

While 2010 has been one of the warmest years on record globally, provisional figures show that it was the 12th coldest UK year since records began in 1910. Temperatures in Britain averaged 8C over the year, the Met Office said.

The average temperature for December was -1C – significantly colder than the longterm average of 4.2C and lower than the previous coldest December, in 1981, when temperatures averaged 0.1C over the month.

December was the coldest month in England and Wales since February 1986, the coldest in Scotland since February 1947 and the coldest on record in Northern Ireland.

It has emerged that, in October, the Met Office informed the government that this winter would be exceptionally cold, but did not tell the public.

Last month, temperatures regularly plunged to between -10C and -20C overnight as the country was hit by exceptionally cold and snowy weather, while temperatures struggled to get above freezing in many places during the day.

But although December was cold and snowy, it was also relatively dry and sunny, the Met Office said.

It was the third driest December since 1910, with just 38% of the expected rain falling during the month, and the third sunniest since 1929.

The year as a whole has also been dry and sunny, with figures showing it was the ninth sunniest year since 1929 and the 10th driest since 1910.

Last month, as Britain was gripped by a second harsh winter in a row, meteorologists revealed that globally, 2010 was on course to be one of the hottest years ever recorded.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said temperatures between January and October were 0.55C above the long-term average of 14C – slightly higher than the hottest year on record in 1998.

Provisional results from the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia showed 2010 was 0.52C warmer than normal until the end of October, putting it on a par with their figures for the record-breaking 1998, and on track to be the hottest or second hottest year since records began.

Data from two other international records showed it was the hottest year on record so far.

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