Britain has enjoyed its second sunniest year on record… despite the Beast from the East that brought the country to a standstill.
And it may end one of the hottest years on record too.
A total of around 1,575 hours of sunshine have been measured across the UK so far in 2018 – only behind the record 1,587 clocked up in 2003, according to the Met Office.
The previous second highest annual figure was 1,566 hours clocked in 1995.
But the last few dull days of December look unlikely to bring the blue skies needed to overhaul the record-breaking 2003 figure.
It still means 2018 is the second sunniest year since 1929 when sunshine records began.
Along with the summer heatwave, the year will mostly be remembered for blizzards and ice that swept the nation in February and March.
The large arctic air mass stretching from Russia caused the coldest snap since 2013 – closing hundreds of schools, disrupting transport and leaving motorists stranded.
But, overall, the year fits the general pattern of the UK heating up – along with the rest of the world, according to the Met Office.
It could even be among the top ten warmest years on record – with the average temperature somewhere between 9.4 and 9.5 °C.
The figures are so close, conditions at the end of the month will make all the difference.
If 2018 does make it in to the top ten, it will mean every one of the hottest ten years on record will have been in the 21st Century.
Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: “The last week of December will be of significant interest to us in finding out where 2018 ranks in terms of historic average annual temperatures.
“We experienced some memorable extremes of hot and cold weather this year – the summer heatwave contrasted sharply with the freezing conditions during the so called ‘Beast from the East’ in February and March.
“However, even if the last few days of December are cool enough to keep 2018 out of the all time hottest top 10, the overall story for the year fits into the general warming trend we have seen in the century so far.”
The warm year will “probably be the second sunniest on record”, he said.
A mild December is also bringing down the curtain on a drier than average year.
May was the sunniest month, and with 246 hours this was also a record for the month.
The high pressure and sunny weather continued through the long days of June and July, contributing significantly to the annual total.
By contrast December has been the dullest – with only 34 hours of sunshine so far, well behind January’s 49 with only four days to go.
The hottest month was July, with an average temperature of 17.3 °C – with February coldest at 2.4 °C.
The UK received close to 90 per cent of average annual rainfall. Winter and spring were somewhat wetter than average.
This was followed by the summer heatwave that brought an extended drought. June was the driest month, with an average of 35mm falling across the UK.
Parts of southern England were particularly arid, having their lowest rainfall for over 100 years. January was the wettest, with 134mm.
Temperature records for the entire UK date back to 1910.
Warmest years in the UK since 1910
Rank Mean Annual Temperature °C Year
1 9.9 2014
2 9.7 2006
3 9.6 2011
4 9.6 2007
5 9.6 2017
6 9.5 2003
7 9.5 2004
8 9.5 2002
9 9.5 2005
10 9.4 1990
By Ben Gelblum and Mark Waghorn
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