03/01/2012 09:11 GMT | Updated 04/03/2012 05:12 GMT

UK Weather: December Gales Were Strongest Westerly Winds Since 1974

Last month saw the strongest westerly winds to batter the UK since December 1974, a climate expert has said.

It also brought more westerly winds than any other December in 139 years of records except for one, according to weather historian Philip Eden.

"Westerly winds blew throughout the month and there were several gales in northern districts, some of which caused structural damage - notably the Christmas Day gale in Orkney and Shetland," he wrote in a review of last month's weather.

"This was the second most 'westerly' December in 139 years of records."

Weather forecasters said this winter had been far stormier than recent winters, with two deep Atlantic depressions - or deep storms - in December and one today.

Severe gale force winds swept over Scotland on December 8 and hit Shetland and northern Scotland on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Northern areas of England were also hit by strong winds on 25 and 26 December.

MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said three deep storms were more than usual for the average winter.

Weather forecaster Nick Prebble added: "This December was quite unusual for westerly flow.

"The fact that there have been the most westerly winds since 1974 doesn't necessarily mean it's been the stormiest December since 1974 but the two things do go hand in hand because our storms usually originate in the west."

But despite the gales, last month was also the warmest December for five years, Eden said.

Scotland experienced exceptionally wet weather as well, receiving twice the average rainfall.