Coldest January in 23 years

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Britain had its coldest January for more than 20 years. It was also drier and sunnier than average, according to climatologist Philip Eden.

He said: "Although the second half of the month was unremarkable temperature-wise, the severity of the cold period during the first half was such that January turned out to be the coldest since 1987, and the ninth coldest in the last 100 years.

"Snow fell frequently and sometimes heavily during the first fortnight, notably on the 4th/5th when depths of 25-35cm (9.8-13.8ins) were measured across a large area from the Cotswolds to the Weald.

"Accumulated depths of 40-60cm were noted in upland parts of eastern Scotland and north-east England and here snow on the ground lasted throughout the month.

"Overall it was both drier and sunnier than an average January although most of the sunshine came during the first and last weeks."

Temperatures dropped to -22.3C at Altnaharra, Sutherland, overnight on January 7-8 - the lowest temperature recorded anywhere in the UK since late-December 1995, Mr Eden said.

The lowest daytime maximum occurred on January 10 when the temperature failed to climb higher than -13.5C at Altnaharra.

A peak daytime high of 12.4C was recorded in Exeter, Devon, on January 16 while the warmest night was 9.2C at St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly on January 14-15.

The mean highest temperature for the month ranged from 0.9C at Carter Bar, Roxburghshire, to 8.1C at St Mary's, while the mean lowest temperature varied between -4.2C in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, to 5.3C at St Mary's.

According to Mr Eden, the Central England Temperature (CET) of 1.1C was 3.1C below the 1971-2000 mean, the lowest since 1987.

"The Januarys of 1985, 1979, 1963, 1945, 1942, 1941 and 1940 were also colder," he added.

Rainfall was the lowest for the month for four years at 68mm averaged over England and Wales.

The equivalent figures for Scotland were 64mm and 57mm for Northern Ireland.

Mr Eden said there were 66 hours of sunshine, averaged over England and Wales, 53 hours in Scotland and 68 hours in Northern Ireland.

The sunniest spot was Camborne, Cornwall, which had 102 hours during the month.