Highlights of the UK's weather in 2011

  • Families enjoying the warm temperatures in April. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire,

    Blue Bells blooming early due to the warm Spring. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire,

    Rather wet conditions in August, especially in Scotland. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire,

    Ardingly Resevoir in Ardingly, West Sussex, which currently stands at only 12% of its capacity in November. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

  • Highlights of the UK's weather in 2011
    07.01.2012 16:01


    After the severe winter at the end of 2010, with the second coldest December on record occurring, no one was sure what 2011 would bring. There has been a lot of speculation in the media of how or if climate change will influence our weather. 2011 was the second warmest year on record, based on the Central England Temperature record, with only 2006 being warmer. This continues the ongoing trend of a gradual temperature increase, with 7 of the warmest years occurring in the last decade. However, there were many other unusual weather types and extremes in 2011.

    After the very cold December in 2010, temperatures gradually increased and it became very dry. January was cold; however there were fewer frosts than usual. Temperatures quickly increased in February, with flowers budding early. This led to February 2011 being was the warmest on record for 9 years. There were also some strong winds in the first week, with 140mph gusts being recorded in the Cairngorms. These caused trees to be uprooted, power cuts and damage to buildings.

    It was an unusually warm spring in the UK. April was mainly dry with long spells of sunshine. Overall April 2011 was the warmest on record, with the highest temperature of 27.8C being recorded at Wisley, Surrey. Warm conditions continued into May; however it was the combination of the lack of rainfall, strong winds and the warm temperatures that caused forest fires to occur. In Berkshire on the 16th May, over 100 firemen were sent to tackle forest blazes. Blazes also developed in Scotland and Wales, but those in Wales were though to have been deliberately started.

    The summer was the coolest since 1993 and it was particularly unsettled in Scotland, where warm, dry weather was scarce. The highest temperature fo the year was 33.3C at the Olympic Park in London.

    Temperatures began to increase again as we went into autumn, with a new national temperature record for October. On 1st October, 29.9C was recorded in Gravesend, Kent, which overtook the previous record of 29.4C, recorded in 1985. In Dublin however, another extreme was recorded in October. On the 24th, 82.2mm of rainfall was recorded in South-west County Dublin, with 68mm of that falling in a 4 hour period, making this the wettest day in Dublin on record.

    In November, it became apparent, how little precipitation had fallen in 2011, with many areas suffering from a drought. The Midlands in particular were placed on drought alert, after their driest 12-month period on record. Only 65% of the average rainfall fell from November 2010 to November 2011. December was the second most westerly on record, which caused very stormy conditions on more than one condition. This was most felt by the Shetland Islands on Boxing Day, when gale force winds blew across. 

    Overall, it was a warm year, with only the summer temperatures being below average. The most notable feature however was the contrast in rainfall between Scotland, and East Anglia and the Midlands. It was the wettest year of the last century in many places in Scotland. Whereas, in East Anglia and the Midlands, many places have recorded less than two-thirds of their average annual rainfall. This being locally the second driest year in the last 100 years.


    By: Sally-Jean Webb