The Weather of 2014

Friday 19th Dec 2014 by theWeather Club

Image: South Devon Railway sea wall breach February 2014 (by Geoff Sheppard via Wikicommons)

The winter 2014 was exceptionally stormy with at least 7 major storms affecting the UK in early Jan and again from late January to mid-February. This led to the wettest winter for the UK since 1910 and since 1766 in the long-running England and Wales series. There was major flooding across the Somerset levels and along sections of the River Thames and there were more severe gale days than in any other winter season since records began in 1871.

Spring was generally quiet. Early in the season some very high levels of air pollution were recorded originating from from industrial sources in the UK and blown in from the continent along with fine Saharan dust that affected southern and eastern parts of the country. Those with lung and heart conditions were advised to avoid any strenuous activity and asthmatics were warned of an increased risk of attacks during the period. There was heavy snowfall in Scotland at the end of March; Nevis Range reportedly had its best snow season since 2010 and the ski tows at CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore, went on to open at midsummer for the first time. Marian Austin, managing director at Nevis Range, said the resort near Fort William had experienced record snowfalls. Nevis Range, CairnGorm and Glencoe have depths of up to 16ft (5m). Ms Austin said: "It is amazing cover for this time of year."

The UK had mostly fine, settled weather during June and July leading most people to view this as a good summer, especially considering the recent run of summer washouts we've experienced since 2006. In mid-July the spell of hot weather was brought to a rather dramatic end. The very warm, humid air moving up from the Spanish plateau to the UK - the Spanish Plume - was forced rapidly upwards by cooler air from the Atlantic, producing some impressive thunderstorms.

August was more unsettled and was the only month of the year with lower than average temperatures. Ex-Hurricane Bertha passed over the UK on 10th August leading to significant disruption due to flooding and fallen trees, particularly in parts of northeast Scotland. Ex-Hurricane Cristobal also headed across the Atlantic towards the UK at the end of August/start of September, however unlike ex-Hurricane Bertha which moved straight across the UK, ex-Hurricane Cristobal took a very different track and moved northwards towards Iceland. This had a more positive impact on UK weather as an area of high pressure built further to the south and over the UK, resulting in late summer/early autumn warmth.

High pressure dominated throughout September leading to it being the driest September on record since 1910. However, October and November were more unsettled with some areas receiving twice the normal rainfall during November. The remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo blew into the UK on the night of the 20th/21st October with warnings of disruption due to strong winds as well as localised heavy rainfall, particularly over the northern half of the UK. With trees still in leaf, some disruption and damage was caused by falling trees and a woman was killed by a falling tree in Knightsbridge, London. Autumn as a whole was unseasonably warm which had an impact on flora and fauna - strawberries continued growing into November! - and we had the warmest Halloween on record. The warm theme ran throughout the year and 2014 is on course to be the hottest year on record, not just in the UK but globally.