February saw highest and lowest temperatures of winter on record
The highest and lowest temperatures of the UK’s winter season were recorded in February, with some parts of the east coast having their wettest winter on record.
Cold conditions from the east brought temperatures down to -23C at Braemar in Aberdeenshire on February 11, the lowest temperature in the UK since 1995 and the lowest in February since 1955, according to the Met Office.
Forecasters said a southerly flow brought warm weather from the Canaries and Africa which led to the season’s highest temperature of 18.4C at Santon Downham in Suffolk on February 24.
Meanwhile, Tyne and Wear received 214% (319.1mm) of seasonal winter rainfall, making it the area’s wettest winter on record.
Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Rutland’s winter season average rainfall all ranked as their second wettest.
For the east/north-east England region as a whole, 2020/21 was the second wettest winter on record (324.9mm rainfall), behind only the winter of 1876/77 (343.1mm).
The record-breaking rainfall brought plenty of cloud, meaning sunshine hours for England and Wales were relatively low.
Wales received only 80% (127.8 hours) of the seasonal average sunshine hours, with local areas including Dyfed, Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and Powys receiving no more than 75% of their average sunshine hours.
Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: “February 2021 has seen a wide temperature range resulting from the two predominant weather patterns we’ve seen this month, with the first half of February experiencing some bitterly cold easterlies originating from Russia, and recent days seeing the influence of air coming from the Canary Islands.
“Minimum temperatures of below -20 were more frequent historically, but have become scarcer, while winter temperatures above 18C have become a little more regular, with four of the last five winters recording such events.
“Historically they were extremely infrequent events.
“Our winters are changing and as we have seen we can still receive cold snaps. It’s just that those extremes won’t be quite as cold or as frequent as they once would have been.”