Image: Flooding in York on the 27th December 2016 (Source: Flickr)
The UK weather during 2015 was both warmer and wetter than average: temperatures were 0.4C warmer than normal and the UK received 112% of the normal rainfall total. Looking at the year in finer detail reveals the majority of 2015 was relatively quiet, however November onwards caused the most memorable weather of the year, with exceptionally mild conditions throughout December, as well as widespread flooding, particularly across northern parts of the UK.
January 2015 began with heavy rain and strong winds, with the unsettled weather continuing until mid-January; Stornoway Airport recording 113 mph on the 8th and 9th January. Towards the end of January there were outbreaks of snow and sharp frosts, although no significant disruption. High pressure centred over the UK for the first part of February bought a period of settled weather, followed by a return to more unsettled conditions for the latter part of the month.
For spring, the statistics hover close to the UK average, with temperatures 0.1C below normal. Rainfall values were also close to average, although it is interesting to note that there were regional variations concealed in this, with drier conditions across the southern part of the UK with wetter conditions over north-western England and western Scotland. Despite the weather in spring being relatively inactive, the weather continued to impact our day-to-day lives. The partial solar eclipse on the 20th March was somewhat spoilt for those in London and the south-east due to cloudy conditions, but clearer skies elsewhere allowed captivated spectators to view the eclipse in its full glory, as well experience a brief drop in temperature by a degree or two as the moon crossed the sun. In April, the weather impacted our lives once again; the lack of wind combined with traffic fumes, pollution from Europe and dust from the Sahara resulted in very poor air quality on the 9th and 10th. The month of May saw limited spells of fine weather, and was more often wet and cool with temperatures 0.8C below average.
Summer 2015 recorded below average temperatures, with an overall mean 0.4C below the norm. The first official day of summer saw an intense low pressure system bring rain and strong winds across the UK. In contrast, the final day of June saw temperatures exceed 30C, with heat-health alerts issued. The warm weather continued into July, with the hottest temperature of the year on the 1st with 36.7°C recorded at Heathrow, followed by thunderstorms and hail across parts of England. From mid to end of August, localised flash flooding caused the greatest disruption; parts of south-eastern England received more than double the average rainfall amounts for the time of year, with further episodes of heavy rain later on in the month.
Autumn 2015 was very much a divided season; both September and October were generally settled months, with a much more changeable, disruptive weather pattern throughout November. As we approached late autumn, this year’s El Nino event dominated weather headlines around the world, as the phenomena looked set to become the strongest of the last 50 years, with a tendency to bring warm and wet weather to the UK. This certainly seemed the case this year – November coincided with three storms; Abigail, Barney and Clodagh, bringing heavy rain and spells of windy weather, with the UK experiencing 145% of the average rainfall amount for November.
December 2015 was the most remarkable month of the year, with exceptionally mild weather and temperatures 4.1C above the 1981-2010 average. This resulted in the warmest winter since 1910. There was also a notable absence of air frost, with no weather stations across central or southern England reporting frosts. Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank continued to bring strong winds and heavy rain, with the worst flooding over Christmas in parts of Cumbria, resulting in UK December rainfall of 191% compared with average values, leading to the wettest December, and calendar month, in the UK series.
The Royal Meteorological Society are holding a National Meeting, 'Understanding the Weather of 2015', on 6th February. The presentations will provide an overview of the most interesting and high-impact weather events of 2015. Experts from across the Royal Meteorological Society's community will help us to understand these weather events and examine their underlying causes. For more information and to register please visit >> https://www.rmets.org/events/understanding-weather-2015