UK has one of its wettest and warmest winters on record

The UK has just experienced one of its wettest, and warmest, winters on record, new figures show.

Across December, January and February, the country was deluged with an average total of 469.7mm of rain.

This was enough to rank it the fifth wettest winter on record, according to the Met Office.

Last month has already been confirmed as the wettest February on record, with an average of 209.1mm measured across the UK.

The Met Office has now said that it was also the fifth wettest of any calendar month, based on statistics dating back to 1862.

Wettest UK months on record
Wettest UK months on record

As well as being particularly wet, the three months from December 2019 to February 2020 were exceptionally mild, with a provisional mean temperature across the country of 5.28C.

It means five of the UK’s 10 warmest winters on record have all been in the past seven years: 2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2018/19 and now 2019/20.

The warmest winter, based on data that goes back to 1884, occurred in 1988/89, which saw a mean temperature of 5.80C.

Warmest UK winters on record
Warmest UK winters on record

The mixture of mild temperatures and wet conditions over the past few months has been caused by a very strong jet stream high in the atmosphere, which has been further south than normal.

This has allowed a succession of Atlantic storm systems to cross the UK, including Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge.

The Met Office says a direct link between the wet weather and climate change is difficult to make, because rainfall patterns in the UK have always shown a large range of natural variation in the long-term.

But they point out that there is a trend towards wetter winters, which is consistent with what is expected to happen in the future with continued climate change.