UK weather: Warmest December on record was one of wettest ever seen as Britain battered by storms and flooding

Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank brought waves of devastation to many parts of the UK

Lizzie Dearden
Thursday 31 December 2015 17:36
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Members of the emergency services paddle down Huntington Road past a submerged parked car after the adjacent River Foss burst it's banks in York. The government was holding emergency talks Sunday as flooding in northern England forced hundreds of people to leave their homes, including in the historic tourist destination of York.
Members of the emergency services paddle down Huntington Road past a submerged parked car after the adjacent River Foss burst it's banks in York. The government was holding emergency talks Sunday as flooding in northern England forced hundreds of people to leave their homes, including in the historic tourist destination of York.

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.

Storm Frank hits UK

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.”

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 PA

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