The UK recently had its lowest absolute minimum temperature since February 2012 with Braemar, Scotland recording -15.4°C on February 1st. We’ll be looking at UK absolute minimum temperatures for every year back to 1900 and compare with this figure from 2019.

The graph below shows the absolute minimum temperature for the UK in every year from 1900 to 2019 (up to February) with a 10-year running average. Interestingly, both the maximum and minimum points in the 10-year running average have occurred in the last 40 years, 1985 (minimum) and 2018 (maximum).

With 2001 and 2010 being the only years of the 21st century so far successfully recording a minimum temperature of at least -20.0°C somewhere in the UK, it is clear that such a figure has become more rare. This could be associated with the natural variability of the UK but also could be associated with a warming climate. This is difficult to attribute as absolute minimum temperatures are a one-off, they are not averages over an extended period of time but it’s interesting nevertheless how rare a -20°C figure has become for the UK. It should be noted though that the 1900s and 1920s decades did not record a single -20°C observation in the UK.

Here’s the above data for each year with the station that recorded the absolute minimum and the date it was recorded on.

2019: -15.4°C at Braemar on February 1st

2018: -13.7°C at Altnaharra & Kinbrace on January 21st

2017: -13.0°C at Shawbury on December 12th

2016: -14.1°C at Braemar on February 14th

2015: -12.5°C at Tulloch Bridge on January 19th

2014: -9.0°C at Cromdale on December 27th

2013: -13.4°C at Marham on January 16th

2012: -15.6°C at Holbeach on February 11th

2011: -13.0°C at Altnaharra on January 8th

2010: -22.3°C at Altnaharra on January 8th

2009: -18.9°C at Aviemore on February 9th & Braemar on December 29th

2008: -12.9°C at Aviemore on December 30th

2007: -13.0°C at Aboyne on December 22nd

2006: -16.4°C at Altnaharra on March 2nd

2005: -13.2°C at Ravensworth on December 29th

2004: -15.2°C at Kinbrace on December 19th

2003: -18.3°C at Aviemore on January 7th

2002: -16.1°C at Grantown-on-Spey on January 2nd

2001: -21.7°C at Kinbrace on March 3rd

2000: -15.0°C at Dalmally on December 30th

1999: -14.0°C at Sennybridge on December 20th

1998: -17.0°C at Altnaharra on March 1st

1997: -15.2°C at Shepshed on January 3rd

1996: -13.0°C at Aviemore on December 25th

1995: -27.2°C at Altnaharra on December 30th

1994: -16.1°C at Braemar on February 17th

1993: -15.8°C at Altnaharra on December 26th

1992: -12.3 °C at Worcester on January 22nd and 23rd

1991: -16.0°C at Cawood on February 14th

1990: -8.4°C at Grantown-on-Spey on February 15th

1989: -14.0°C at Tummell Bridge on December 15th

1988: -11.6°C at Carnwath on November 22nd

1987: -23.3°C at Caldecott on January 13th

1986: -21.2°C at Grantown-on-Spey on February 27th

1985: -23.4°C at Lagganlia on January 27th

1984: -23.6°C at Grantown-on-Spey on January 20th

1983: -14.2°C at Lagganlia on February 19th

1982: -27.2°C at Braemar on January 10th

1981: -25.2°C at Shawbury on December 13th

1980: -17.5°C at Clashnoir on January 2nd

1979: -24.6°C at Carnwath on January 13th

1978: -22.0°C at Keith on February 20th

1977: -18.7°C at Lagganlia on January 17th

1976: -16.2°C at Carnwath on December 5th

1975: -11.4°C at Balmoral on February 8th

1974: -10.2°C at Lagganlia on February 14th

1973: -21.2°C at Carnwath on February 15th

1972: -18.5°C at Moorhouse on January 31st

1971: -12.8°C at Braemar on January 4th

1970: -21.1°C at Carnwath & West Linton on January 7th

1969: -20.6°C at Grantown-on-Spey on February 18th

1968: -18.3 °C at Braemar on February 21st

1967: -14.4°C at Carnwath on December 10th

1966: -20.0°C at Braemar on February 15th

1965: -21.7°C at Corwen on March 3rd

1964: -15.5°C at Caldecott on December 29th

1963: -22.2°C at Braemar on January 18th

1962: -21.1°C at Corwen on January 2nd

1961: -22.2°C at Cannich on December 30th

1960: -22.2°C at Grantown-on-Spey on February 18th

1959: -17.8°C at Braemar on January 15th & Kincraig on February 4th

1958: -22.8°C at Logie Coldstone on March 14th

1957: -16.1°C at Sutton Bonnington on February 20th

1956: -18.9°C at Perth on February 3rd

1955: -25.0°C at Braemar on February 23rd

1954: -20.0°C at Welshpool on February 2nd

1953: -12.8°C at Braemar & Dalwhinnie on January 3rd

1952: -17.2°C at Logie Coldstone on January 30th

1951: -16.1°C at Dalwhinnie on March 11th

1950: -18.3°C at Dalwhinnie on December 15th

1949: -17.8°C at Braemar on January 5th

1948: -15.6°C at Logie Coldstone on January 24th

1947: -21.1°C at Elmstone on January 29th, Peebles and Braemar on March 4th & Braemar on March 8th

1946: -14.4°C at Dalwhinnie on February 26th

1945: -19.4°C at Dalwhinnie on January 26th

1944: -15.0°C at Braemar on February 28th

1943: -13.9°C at Braemar on January 5th

1942: -19.4°C at Braemar on March 8th

1941: -21.1°C at Houghall on January 5th & West Linton on January 6th

1940: -23.3°C at Rhayader on January 21st

1939: -17.2°C at Dalwhinnie & Braemar on January 4th

1938: -15.6°C at Braemar on December 22nd

1937: -21.7°C at Braemar on December 13th

1936: -15.0°C at Braemar on February 5th and 13th

1935: -15.6°C at Braemar on December 24th

1934: -12.2°C at Braemar on March 14th

1933: -15.6°C at Logie Coldstone on January 19th

1932: -11.7°C at Dalwhinnie on March 12th

1931: -17.2°C at Braemar on March 3rd

1930: -16.1°C at Newport on March 20th

1929: -18.3°C at Usk, Ross-on-Wye on February 14th & Houghall on February 17th

1928: -13.3°C at Braemar on January 1st

1927: -17.8°C at Braemar on December 18th & Logie Coldstone on December 17th and 18th

1926: -16.7°C at Luton on January 17th

1925: -16.7°C at Braemar on December 20th

1924: -16.7°C at Balmoral on March 3rd

1923: -14.4°C at Braemar on December 25th

1922: -13.3°C at West Linton, Eskdalemuir & Garforth on January 18th

1921: -15.0°C at Braemar on March 7th

1920: -18.3°C at Raunds on December 13th

1919: -23.3°C at Braemar on November 14th

1918: -19.4°C at West Linton on January 14th

1917: -20.0°C at Benson on February 6th

1916: -16.7°C at Braemar on February 20th

1915: -13.3°C at Balmoral on December 5th

1914: -13.9°C at Braemar on December 25th

1913: -15.6°C at Braemar on December 31st

1912: -20.6°C at West Linton on February 4th

1911: -12.2°C at Garforth on February 1st

1910: -23.3°C at Balmoral on January 28th

1909: -17.8°C at Marlborough on March 3rd & Balmoral on December 7th

1908: -18.3°C at Liphook on December 30th

1907: -15.0°C at Llangammarch Wells on January 25th

1906: -16.8°C at Woodbridge on December 30th

1905: -15.0°C at Braemar on November 18th

1904: -14.4°C at Appleby on November 27th

1903: -17.2°C at Braemar on January 13th

1902: -18.9°C at Lairg on February 14th

1901: -18.8°C at Swarraton on January 9th

1900: -19.4°C at Braemar on February 11th

Using this data, we have analysed the number of years per decade where the UK successfully recorded -15°C and -20°C (see below). The 1960s was easily the coldest decade in terms of absolute minimum temperatures for the UK as it had the joint highest amount of years with -15°C and highest amount of years with -20°C out of any decade here. In contrast, the 2010s have fared the poorest with only 3 years {2010, 2012 and 2019} successfully recording an absolute minimum of -15°C; easily the lowest of any decade here in this analysis, and only 1 year {2010} recording an absolute minimum of -20°C.

To conclude this analysis, I’d like to give the absolute minimum temperature records for every month of the year in the UK.

January: -27.2°C at Braemar on 10 January 1982.

February: -27.2°C at Braemar on 11 February 1895.

March: -22.8°C at Logie Coldstone on 14 March 1958.

April: -15.0°C at Newton Rigg on 2 April 1917.

May: -9.4°C at Lynford on 4 & 11 May 1941.

June: -5.6°C at Dalwhinnie on 9 June 1955, Santon Downham on 1 & 3 June 1962.

July: -2.5°C at Lagganlia on 15 July 1977.

August: -4.5°C at Lagganlia on 21 August 1973.

September: -6.7°C at Dalwhinnie on 26 September 1942.

October: -11.7°C at Dalwhinnie on 28 October 1948.

November: -23.3°C at Braemar on 14 November 1919.

December: -27.2°C at Altnaharra on 30 December 1995.

All data shared in this analysis is sourced from the UK Met Office.

Sean Bruen is a forecaster for Metcast (and Snow Watch). His main interests are historical and long range weather. He LOVES snow (his Twitter account is @SnowbieWx, go figure!) and his favourite season is Winter.

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