December has been the warmest since records began and one of the wettest after seeing a series of storms bring devastating flooding to the UK.
With Storm Frank on its way out, conditions were turning more wintry and settled as communities in northern England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales battled to recover on New Year’s Eve.
The Met Office said December had “smashed records” for both heat and rainfall, with the mean temperature at 8C – double the long-term average. The previous record was 6.9C, set in 1934.
With conditions feeling closer to April or even May, daffodils and spring flowers started to boom across the country and animals delayed their hibernation.
The strong El Nino weather phenomenon is thought to have played a part in driving tropical air up into the UK, causing the moisture and wind that formed one storm after the other.
Storm Desmond was largely responsible for making December a record-breaking month, say the experts, with unprecedented amounts of rain falling on the Lake District.
The Christmas period was described as “unsettled, wet and mild” as hard on the heels of Storm Desmond, Storm Eva brought more gales and heavy rain to many northern areas on Christmas Eve, then Storm Frank moved in to cause more mayhem.
The weather fronts brought an average of 211mm of rain through December in the UK, making it the wettest since 1929.
But it was a record for Scotland and Wales, with 333.1mm and 321mm respectively – the most rainfall since records began in 1910.
December has also been the wettest in north west England and fourth wettest on record in Northern Ireland, but rainfall levels have been much closer to average in central and southern England, the Met Office said.
“Looking at the year as a whole, until last week it seemed it would be unremarkable with a cool spring and cool, damp summer being offset by the mild end to the year,” a spokesperson added.
“However, the rainfall this week has changed all that and we have now had enough rainfall to propel the UK value in to the top 10 wettest years in our record.”
In Pictures: Floods hit the UK
In Pictures: Floods hit the UK
1/17 Floods hit the UK
Members of Cleveland Mountain Rescue and soldiers from 2 Battalion The Duke of Lancasters Regiment evacuating people from the Queens Hotel in York city centre as the River Ouse floods on December 27, 2015
2/17 Floods hit the UK
Teams in Whalley evacuate villagers from their homes
3/17 Floods hit the UK
A resident of Glenridding, which flooded for the third time this month, surveys the damage
4/17 Floods hit the UK
The River Ouse, York, has burst its banks
5/17 Floods hit the UK
A soldier from the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s regiment helps to sure up flood defences in Appleby, Cumbria, one of the areas worst affected by the floods
6/17 Floods hit the UK
Experts believe the cost of clearing up the most recent flooding could exceed £50m (PA)
7/17 Floods hit the UK
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in York
8/17 Floods hit the UK
A police helicopter photographed the extent of the flooding in York on 27 December.
9/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding at Clifford's Tower in York on 27 December
10/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding along York's Inner Ring Road on 27 December
11/17 Floods hit the UK
Water runs out of the Lowther pub in York on 27 December after the River Ouse bursts its banks in York city centre.
12/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooded streets in Dumfries, Scotland on 30 December
13/17 Floods hit the UK
A car left submerged in floodwater in Newton Stewart, Scotland
14/17 Floods hit the UK
Staff at the Worlds End bar in Dumfries Scotland desperately try to pump floodwater out of the building
15/17 Floods hit the UK
A man stands in the doorway of his cottage in the flooded town of Straiton in Scotland
16/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding in the village of Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland
17/17 Floods hit the UK
Man wades through floodwater outside a fish and chip shop in Dumfries, Scotland
Provisional figures show 2015 catching up to 2000, when 1,337mm of rain fell.
Many experts have linked the unprecedented conditions to global warming.
Professor Myles Allan, from the University of Oxford, said: “The weather has changed, and we have changed it: get used to it.
"Those with more open minds are asking, 'is this the new normal?'. Unfortunately, the answer is 'no' - 'normal weather', unchanged over generations apart from random fluctuations, is a thing of the past.
"When families reconvene for Christmas in the 2040s, the envelope of 'normal weather' will have shifted by as much again as it has already shifted since the 1970s."
Additional reporting by PAReuse content