Hard though it may be to believe now, after we have been battered by one low pressure system after another over the Christmas break, December began with quiet, dry weather and high pressure in charge. As often happens during the winter months there was a good deal of cloud trapped under the high pressure system, which meant we saw little in the way of frosts: instead it was mild and gloomy, with daytime temperatures often getting well into double figures thanks to warm air from the south.
This quiet spell was interrupted by a deep low that moved down the North Sea on 5th December, generating a storm surge and threatening the east coast of the UK with flooding. We felt the edge of this system as a day of blustery winds, but the high pressure and quiet weather soon returned.
The high moved away on the 12th/13th December, and without its protection we were soon treated to an unrelenting procession of Atlantic low pressure systems – some of them very lively. The Atlantic charts became a mass of isobars and fronts as depressions merged and new ones were generated. Several days in the second half of December saw gusts in excess of 30kts, with the maximum being 38.3kts at 0443 on 27 December. There was a good deal of heavy and persistent rain too, with 20.4mm on 23 December. Rain was recorded every day from the 11th to 31st December.
The rainfall total for December was 99.2mm, making it the second wettest December recorded here (the total for December 2012 was 109.6mm). The lowest temperature was a modest -2.2C and the highest was 14.1C, the highest December reading since 2007. The average for the month was 7.1C, about 2C above normal and the warmest December since 2011 (7.6C).
2013 started very dry, with rainfall for the first four months below even 2010 levels. Rainfall remained well below average until October, which turned out to be our second-wettest month on record with 140mm. That total brought our annual rainfall to normal levels, and by the end of the year we had recorded 683.8mm – a little below average, but well within the normal range.
If the early part of 2013 was dry, it was also cold – average temperatures for February, March and April were all well below normal and it felt as if winter would never end. Spring didn’t really get under way until May, but then came the summer to turn everything on its head.
The summer of 2013 will be remembered for its high temperatures, peaking at 31.2C on 19 July – the highest temperature recorded here. The average temperature for July was 19.1C, also a new record. All this heat generated some spectacular thunderstorms, and it remained warm right into September.
October was warm and wet, with a much-publicised storm moving up the Bristol Channel on the 28th – but it didn’t really get into its stride until later on, and we saw just a brief spell of high winds in the small hours. November was unexceptional, but December was mild, wet and windy too – the end of a year of contrasts.