Lookback - February 01, 2012
January Lookback
Another changeable but mild month

By Philip Eden


Westerly winds continued for much of January, though not with the relentlessness of December. Strongest winds occurred during the first five days, and a severe gale swept northern Britain on the 3rd, but there was an anticyclonic interlude between the 8th and 17th, and an anticyclonic/easterly type set in on the 29th.


Mean maximum temperature for January ranged from 10.8°C at St Mary's (Isles of Scilly) to 4.4°C at Dalwhinnie (Inverness-shire) and Braemar (Aberdeenshire), while mean minimum temperature varied between 8.7°C at St Mary's (Isles of Scilly) and minus 0.5°C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire). Mean monthly temperature was 0.0-0.5°C above the 1981-2010 normal in Scotland, but 1.5-2.0°C above in the Midlands, East Anglia and Southeast England. The Central England Temperature (CET) of 5.7°C was 1.3 °C above the long-term mean making this the warmest January since 2008, and by this measure there have been only 14 warmer Januarys in the last 100 years.


The highest maximum at a standard site (i.e excluding rooftop and mountain sites) in the UK was 13.9°C at Exeter airport (Devon) on the 18th, while the lowest minimum was minus 10.9°C at Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) early on the 16th. The lowest daytime maximum was minus 2.8°C at Loch Shin (Sutherland) on the 16th, and the warmest night was that of Dec 31/Jan 1 with a minimum of 11.8°C at Olympic Park South (London).


Rainfall averaged over England and Wales during January was 66mm which is 73 per cent of the average for the standard reference period 1981-2010, the lowest for this month since 2006; in the last 100 years, 25 Januarys were drier while 75 were wetter. The equivalent figures for Scotland were 113mm and 122 per cent of the normal amount, and for Northern Ireland 83mm and 100 per cent. Monthly totals at routinely-available sites varied between 465mm at Cluanie Inn (Wester Ross) and 19mm at Loftus (Cleveland).


Sunshine averaged over England and Wales during January was 73 hours which is 118 per cent of the 1981-2010 mean, making this the sunniest January for nine years. In the last 100 years only 7 Januarys were sunnier while 93 were duller. The equivalent figures for Scotland were 54 hours and 112 per cent, and for Northern Ireland 52 hours and 97 per cent. Largest total in the UK was 89 hours at Boulmer (Northumberland) and Durham (Co Durham) and the smallest was 22 hours at Lerwick (Shetland).


The windiest day of the month was the 3rd, with a peak gust at a low-level site of 84kn (97mph) at Port Ellen (Islay).


By Philip Eden


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