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A month of contrasts for January’s weather

January 2024 brought a month of contrasts to the UK weather, with three named storms, a significant spell of cold, wintry weather and finally a new UK daily maximum temperature record for January.

Temperatures and rainfall amounts have varied throughout the month, with mild and wet weather interrupted by a cold and dry spell from the second week of January, albeit with some significant snow for northern areas of the UK.

The graph show January 2024 mean temperature and rainfall compared to average. The graph shows a cold and dry spell in the middle of the month, with mild and wet weather either side.

Overall, this means that the average mean temperature for the UK for January 2024 is near average according to provisional Met Office figures. UK mean temperatures ended the month at 3.8°C, around 0.1°C lower than the long-term average for the month.

The image shows a map of the UK's January 2024 mean temperature, compared to a 30-year average (1991-2020). It shows that the majority of the country experienced average temperatures across the month, but a large part of Scotland, plus small parts of southwest England and Northern Ireland, also experienced an average temperature lower than the 30 year average.

The fluctuations in rainfall throughout the month also resulted in near-average rainfall amounts for the month, though Northern Ireland and Scotland were drier than average. UK rainfall was 3% less than average, with 117.5mm of rain. Northern England saw 22% more rain than average, with 111.9mm falling in the month.

The image shows a map of the UK's January 2024 mean rainfall, compared to a 30-year average (1991-2020). It shows that the majority of the country experienced average rainfall across the month, but some areas of Wales, Scotland and the north of England, experienced more than the average amount of rainfall for the year.

Met Office Senior Scientist Mike Kendon recently said:

“Overall, the UK temperature and rainfall for January were fairly near average but these belie the fact that the weather has never been too far away from the headlines. Storms Henk, Jocelyn and Isha all brought significant impacts, as did the cold and snowy conditions around the middle of the month.

“Of course, contrasting winter weather in the UK isn’t a new phenomenon, as subtle shifts in the jet stream can lead to significantly different conditions in the UK. This month we’ve seen clearly how cold northerly winds can bring winter hazards, while Atlantic westerlies can bring some impactful storms. When you add in a late-month warm spell from the south, you get a sense of the mixed conditions the country has had. What this January clearly demonstrates is just how abrupt these changes in weather type can be.”

Gardeners will be glad of more subdued rainfall figures compared to the wet conditions of December, according to Royal Horticultural Society Chief Horticulturist Guy Barter. He recently said:

“Gardeners will have been grateful for a break in January from the rainy autumn and winter weather that has hindered getting the garden ready for spring.

“Although conditions have been pleasant, a cold, but not bitter, January is favoured by gardeners as it holds back the spring flowering of fruit trees and bushes that are vulnerable to frost damage if they flower too early. Gardeners will be hoping for a dry, chilly February.”

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