January 2015 summary

January was wet and blustery, with temperatures a little above average. The highest temperature of the month was a remarkable (for January) 15.2C on the 9th: that’s a new record high for us, not just for January but for any winter month since the station was set up in 2007. Exeter Airport was the warmest spot in the country that day, reaching a balmy 16.5C as low pressure to the north of the UK sucked in warm air from the south: but that low pressure system also brought damaging gales to Scotland, leaving thousands of homes without power. The average temperature for January was 5.9C, a little above normal at but not exceptional.

Total rainfall was 108mm, making this our second-wettest January but a long way off last year’s January total of 157.8mm. This year it rained on 25 out of 31 days, the wettest being the 3rd with 18mm. There were some snow flurries and a couple of falls of snow granules (snow coated in ice), but the ground was too warm for it to settle – the hilltops were white for a while.

This was our second windiest January on record with a wind run of 3235nm. A complex collection of lows passed north of Scotland on 28 January, and during the morning two lively cold fronts passed in quick succession – the first produced a squally downpour and a gust of 33.9kts at 0906, and the second at 1030 brought even more torrential rain, a gust of 41.7kts at 1030 and a jump in pressure of 1.3hPa in the space of 10 minutes.

The end of January saw the wind veering from a mild south-westerly to a north-westerly. Although temperatures remained above freezing, it felt much colder in the dry polar air. As that colder air met (relatively) warm North Atlantic water there was a good deal of snowfall in the north of the UK, and a small but lively low pressure system driven by the temperature difference was formed off Scotland on the 29th. This tracked rapidly down the west coast of the UK before moving inland across Wales, losing strength as it was cut off from the warm water. This low generated thunderstorms over Ireland and some high wind speeds, and although we were some way from the centre we saw a rapid pressure dip overnight on the 29th/30th and winds gusting to 36.5kts.

The month ended with a chillier feel, but so far this has not been a cold winter. February can be just as cold as January, though, so it’s too early to guess how things may look in four weeks time.