Winter 2018/19 was a bit of a unique Winter in some regards as it was mild and dry which is unusual for Winter as mild weather is often associated with wet conditions during the season and not only that but it was a sunnier than average Winter for the UK although extreme western parts tended to be dull.

Temperature

With a mean temperature of 5.2°C, the UK temperature anomaly (against 1981-2010) for Winter 2018/19 was +1.4°C above average making it the mildest Winter since 2015/16 and the 8th mildest on record back to 1910. 4 of the top 10 mildest Winters on record for the UK have been recorded since 2013/14 inclusive (2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2018/19). In terms of the Central England Temperature (CET) series which has monthly data back to January 1659, Winter 2018/19 had a mean temperature of 5.9°C making it the 14th mildest Winter on record. It was the second mildest Winter on record for Northern Ireland back to 1910 with a mean temperature of 6.0°C behind only 6.2°C in Winter 1988/89.

December 2018 was very mild with it being the 8th mildest December on record for the UK back to 1910. January tended to be cooler as the second half of the month featured a cold spell which offset the mild conditions for most earlier in the period that continued on from the mild December. February started off cool but became milder and milder with all-time records set during the final week including a new UK February high minimum temperature, new UK, England, Wales and Scotland February maximum temperatures. We discuss each of these records in our February 2019 stats analysis here. February also broke records widely for mean maximum temperature although February 1998 mostly bet February 2019 for overall mean temperature due to mean minimum temperatures being relatively cooler in 2019.

Kew Gardens recorded a maximum temperature of 21.2°C on 26 February 2019 which is now the highest Winter and February temperature in recorded history for the UK. In contrast, Braemar recorded a minimum temperature of -15.4°C on 1 February 2019 which was the lowest temperature for any month in the UK since February 2012.

UK mean temperature anomaly map (against 1981-2010 averages) for Winter 2018/19.                        Credit: UK Met Office.
Daily mean temperatures for the UK during Winter 2018/19.                                                                                    Credit: UK Met Office.

Rainfall

It was a drier than average Winter with the UK recording only 77% of its average rainfall overall for the season. Only parts of northwestern Scotland and localised spots in Wales had above average rainfall during the season. However, whilst much drier than average by a significant deviation, it was not as dry as Winter 2016/17 as December 2018 tended to be rather more unsettled especially in the west. January 2019 was very dry and it was the driest January since 2006. February 2018 was relatively drier than February 2019.

In eastern Scotland where it was an exceptionally dry Winter, it was the 4th driest Winter on record back to 1910 and the driest since 1963/64.

UK rainfall anomaly map (against 1981-2010 averages) for Winter 2018/19.                                         Credit: UK Met Office.

Sunshine

One of the most unique features of Winter 2018/19 was how sunny the season was for various parts of the UK in spite of the mild theme which is normally associated with dull Winters. Eastern coasts of England and parts of southeastern Scotland had an exceptionally sunny Winter with numerous places seeing their sunniest Winter on record back to 1929.

In eastern England, it was the second sunniest Winter on record back to 1929 with 244.2 hrs of sunshine behind only 2014/15 with 248.7 hrs. In contrast, extreme western parts of each part of the UK had duller than average conditions although not exceptionally so as a result of a very sunny February for the vast majority of places. December 2018 in comparison was the dullest since 1991 over Northern Ireland. January 2019 had close to average sunshine generally though in parts of the east, it was very sunny.

UK sunshine anomaly map (against 1981-2010 averages) for Winter 2018/19.
Credit: UK Met Office.

Summary

Winter 2018/19 was an interesting season with some notable warm extremes in the second half of February. Given the fact it was mild, dry and sunny makes it quite unique to many Winters of the past as cold Winters are typically the driest or sunniest Winters.

A snowy scene at South Downs Way, Brighton. Credit: Mark Clifford.
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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