In Pictures: Heatwaves, storms and a big freeze all hit UK in 2022

A stormy start to the year made way for record high temperatures – and then floods and a big freeze.

Monday 02 January 2023 09:55 GMT
Snowy scenes in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, in March (Danny Lawson/PA)
Snowy scenes in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, in March (Danny Lawson/PA)

It is fair to say the UK experienced all four seasons in 2022.

A stormy start to the year made way for record high temperatures – and then floods and a big freeze.

In January, Malik – the first named storm of the year – battered northern parts of the UK, with winds of over 100mph reported in parts of Scotland and widespread disruption to travel and power supplies.

Three other storms – Dudley, Eunice and Franklin – were named in a single week in February, with two red weather warnings and some of the highest wind speeds recorded in over 30 years.

Dudley and Eunice were both named on February 14 – the first time two storms have been named at once.

Exposed costal locations were blasted by 81mph winds while a 122mph gust was recorded on the Isle of Wight, setting an English record.

The stormy season soon passed, however, with the joys of spring following shortly after.

In April, the UK was warmer than California at 23C and the mercury continued to rise.

Although disrupted by spells of thunderstorms and lightning strikes, the thermometers went on to measure history.

On July 19, the UK’s new record-high temperature of 40.3C at Coningsby in Lincolnshire was confirmed by the Met Office.

Records were also broken in Wales – with 37.1C seen at Hawarden Airport in Flintshire on July 18 – and Scotland – at 34.8C at Charterhall on July 19.

There was no let-up at night, with the UK experiencing its warmest night on record as the extreme heat saw temperatures remaining in the mid-20s.

The extreme heat was fuelled by climate change, which is making every heatwave more intense, frequent and likely, scientists warned.

Rail services were heavily disrupted, with no services into or out of London King’s Cross, no Thameslink or Great Northern trains north of London, and only very limited services on East Midlands Railway.

There were also very limited and disrupted services running into and out of London Euston, on Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Railway, and London Marylebone on Chiltern Railways, and temporary speed restrictions in the face of the risk of buckling rails.

Fire crews battled hundreds of wildfires across the country as fields and grassland were turned into a “tinderbox”.

One regional service said the number of open fires tripled in a week while the Met Office warned most of England was at exceptional risk.

Some people were forced to evacuate their homes and the National Trust admitted it was on “tenterhooks” over the possibility of a large-scale blaze.

A resident of a village where flames swept through on the UK’s hottest day ever said it was “like a scene from the Blitz” after around 19 houses were destroyed.

Villagers in Wennington, Greater London, were left stranded after fires first seen in back gardens rapidly tore through rows of houses.

An entire street became engulfed in flames in one area, with neighbours gathering together to seek refuge in a local church, residents said.

The heat made way for torrential downpours and more typical British weather, with parts of London seeing more than half a month’s rainfall in just one night.

The memories of a hot summer seemed distant as autumn led to warnings of gas shortages, blackouts and plunging mercury.

Arctic weather in December, accompanied by wintry downpours and “freezing fog”, saw weather alerts issued as the mercury dropped to as low as minus 9C in the village of Benson in South Oxfordshire.

It came after forecasters said the final month of the year would have to be a near-record chilly one to avoid 2022 being the warmest year on record for the UK.

Provisional figures from the Met Office showed autumn 2022 – September, October and November – was the third warmest on record, with an average mean temperature of 11.1C, topped only by 2011 and 2006’s autumn figures, in a series which goes back to 1884.

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