Weather review for March 2012

  • A sunny St James's Park in central London, on Tuesday March 27, 2012. Image: Steve Parsons, Press Association Images

    A couple enjoy the warm sunshine at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. Image: Tim Ireland, Press Association Images.

    A visible satellite image for Wednesday March 28, 2012 shows cloudless skies over much of the UK. Image: MeteoGroup.

    People enjoying the warm sunshine on the beach at Weston Super-Mare, Somerset on Tuesday 27 March, 2012. It was the sunniest March over England and Wales since 1929. Image: Tim Ireland, Press Association Images.

    Flowers being watered at Drummond Safari Park near Stirling, Tuesday 27 March, 2012. Temperatures reached 23.6C at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on this day, setting a new record for Scotland in March. Image: Andrew Milligan, Press Association Images.

  • Weather review for March 2012
    31.03.2012 13:16

    The main features of the month were:
    •    Warmest March since 1997
    •    Sunniest March since 1929
    •    Several Scottish high temperature records broken during the last ten days

    High pressure has dominated the scene for a second successive month, to such an extent that this was the fourth most anticyclonic March in 140 years of records. Mean sea-level pressure ranged from 11mbar above normal in Shetland to 15mbar above over northern England. There were brief unsettled spells around the 4th, 7th, and 17th, but the rest of the month was quiet and settled, and during the last ten days of the month it became unseasonably warm and remarkably sunny.

    Mean maximum temperature for March ranged from 14.8°C at Southampton National Oceanographic Centre to 8.5°C at Lerwick (Shetland), while mean minimum temperature varied between 8.4°C at St Mary's (Isles of Scilly) and 0.1°C at Chesham (Bucks). Mean monthly temperature was 1.5-2.5degC above the 1981-2010 normal over most of the country, but locally in eastern Scotland it was just over 3 degC above. The Central England Temperature (CET) of 8.3°C was 1.7 degC above the long-term mean and the highest for March for 15 years. In the last 100 years there have been only five as warm or warmer: 1938, 1948, 1957, 1990 and 1997.

    The highest maximum at a standard site (i.e excluding rooftop and mountain sites) in the UK was 23.6°C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) on the 27th,  a new Scottish record for March, while the lowest minimum was minus 8.5°C at Braemar (Aberdeenshire) early on the 18th. The lowest daytime maximum was 3.3°C at Thorncliffe (Staffs) on the 4th, and the warmest night was that of 24th/25th with a minimum of 11.3°C at Blencathra (Cumbria).

    Rainfall averaged over England and Wales (including a very small estimated figure for the 31st) during March was 30.5mm which is 43 per cent of the average for the standard reference period 1981-2010, the lowest for this month only since last year, but in the last 100 years only 14 Marches were drier while 86 were wetter. The equivalent figures for Scotland were 34mm and 44 per cent of the normal amount, and for Northern Ireland 25mm and 41 per cent.  Monthly totals at routinely-available sites varied between 192mm at Cluanie Inn (Wester Ross) and just 5mm at Kinloss and Lossiemouth (both Morayshire).

    Sunshine averaged over England and Wales (including an estimated figure for the 31st) during March was 187 hours which is 160 per cent of the 1981-2010 mean, making this the sunniest March since 1929. Indeed, in the last 100 years this was the only sunnier March, although in earlier years March 1907 was also slightly sunnier.  The equivalent figures for Scotland were 139 hours and 129 per cent, and for Northern Ireland 140 hours and 120 per cent.  Largest total in the UK was 209 hours at Southampton and the smallest was 68 hours at Lerwick (Shetland).

    Strong winds were a rare commodity in March, as in February; the highest known gust was 57 knots (66mph) at Lerwick on the 6th.

    Regional Breakdown

    Difference from the average (1981-2010)

    Mean Max

    (deg C)

    Mean Min

    (deg C)


    (per cent)


    (per cent)






    Scotland (Highlands and Islands)










    Scotland - Central Belt and east coast










    Northeast England










    East Anglia




















    Southeast England










    Northwest England and North Wales










    Southwest England and South Wales










    Northern Ireland










    Irish Republic










    ©Philip Eden 120331