Just as dawn was breaking at 6.30am today the thermometer dropped to -5.4C, the lowest value recorded here since 4 February 2012. The lowest temperature seen during the winter of 2012/13 was -4.6C on 12 December. The Met Office weather station at Yeovilton was colder still this morning, at -6.5C.
This was the the lowest March temperature yet recorded here – I hope it hasn’t caught too many gardeners out. I’m glad to say some seedlings in the greenhouse here seem to have survived.
February’s weather divided neatly into two halves. The first half was influenced by Atlantic weather systems. These generated showers and some blustery north-west winds that brought down polar air, making it feel bitterly cold. By 16th February we had recorded 31mm of rain, about normal for the time of year. Although there were a few bright spells, for the most part it was cold, wet and miserable.
The second half of February was dominated by high pressure that developed over France, then drifted north across the UK to Scandinavia where it sat for a week or so before moving back over the UK. This high pressure pushed the Atlantic lows to our north, and we had two weeks of quiet, dry weather. Unfortunately there was a good deal of cloud trapped below the high, and the sun was not yet strong enough to disperse it from the top, or to generate breezes to blow it away. The result was two weeks of anti-cyclonic gloom – day after day of flat stratus cloud covering the sky.
With a couple of exceptions the cloud cover prevented any hard night-time frosts: but it also blocked the sunshine, keeping daytime temperatures low. The high pressure system brought a gentle easterly wind drawing in cold, dry continental air. There was almost no rainfall during this period, and the total for February was 31.6mm – so the second half of February was just cold and miserable.
Humidity during the second half of February was low, so at last the ground has begun to dry after the prolonged rainfall of last year. The average temperature for the month was 3.9C, a degree or so below the average and the coldest February we have recorded here.