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UK Weather: 2011 The Second Warmest Year Since Records Began Say Met Office

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2011 was the second warmest year since Britain began
2011 was the second warmest year since Britain began

The past year has been the second warmest on record for the UK, the Met Office said on Friday.

It said provisional figures show that only 2006, with an average temperature of 49.5F (9.73C) was warmer than 2011's average temperature of 49.3F (9.62C).

Despite this year seeing high temperatures for long periods - including the warmest April and spring on record, the second warmest autumn and the warmest October day - early figures suggest we are ending 2011 with a "close to average" December.

John Prior, national climate manager at the Met Office, said: "While it may have felt mild for many so far this December, temperatures overall have been close to what we would expect.

"It may be that the stark change from last year, which was the coldest December on record for the UK, has led many to think it has been unseasonably warm."

All bar one of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997 and all the UK's top seven warmest years happened in the last decade.

The warmest temperature recorded this year - 91.5F (33.1C) on June 27 at Gravesend in Kent - was the warmest temperature recorded in the UK for five years.

But this was one of just a few hot days in a rather cool summer which was book-ended by the warm spring and autumn.

Apart from January, the only other months that had below-average temperatures were June, July and August.

Gravesend was again the location for the warmest October temperature ever, when 85.8F (29.9C) was recorded on October 1, beating the previous record of 84.9F (29.4C) at March in Cambridgeshire on the same day in 1985.

The warm autumn especially seemed to have a marked impact on flora and fauna.

An abundance of holly, mistletoe and other berries such as sloe and hawthorn this autumn and early winter, far from being a predictor of cold and snow, has been a reaction to the warm spring when the trees could produce more blossoms.

Wildflowers burst forth again in November, and in December there have been reports of daffodils budding and blooming in sheltered areas, while growers in south-west England are already harvesting brassicas like cauliflower which they would usually expect to see mature in spring.

Coldest temperature was 8.6F (minus 13C) at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands on January 8, while the strongest gust of wind was 165mph (265.5kph), recorded at the summit of the Cairngorms on December 8.

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