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graphs CLIMATE-UK.COM'S REVIEW OF THE BRITISH METEOROLOGICAL SCENE
MONTHLY SUMMARY
No. 576 For DECEMBER 2003
A CHANGEABLE MONTH BUT MOST AREAS QUITE SUNNY
Text Box: Anticyclonic, southwesterly and northerly weather types alternated during the course of December, resulting in a reduced westerly flow over the British Isles compared with the norm. The main sea-level pressure anomaly centres were -12mbar in the Barents Sea and +8mbar over the mid-Atlantic. Over the British Isles the range was from +1mbar along the English Channel coast to +5mbar in northwest Ireland.

Low pressure near southern England brought widespread rain on the 1st and 2nd, Jersey airport recording 54mm in the 48 hours to 09GMT on the 2nd, but northern Scotland was mainly sunny. An anticyclonic eposide followed between the 3rd and 9th, bringing plenty of sunshine by day, but frost and fog at night. On the 3rd and 4th fog was slow to clear in eastern England, but early on the 5th the temperature climbed to 14.9C at Aberdeen airport, the highest December reading there since 1994. The 8th was a foggy day in parts of Scotland, and at Strathallan, near Perth, the day maximum was only -3.3C.

Atlantic disturbances crossed the country between the 10th and 13th bringing mild and rainy weather - up to 15C at Gloucester and Exeter on the 11th - followed by a brief northerly outbreak on the 14th and 15th with sunny periods and a few wintry showers. Pressure was relatively high fron the 15th to the 19th with plentiful sunshine, but at night there was widespread frost and patchy fog. A deepening depression crossed Wales and northern England on the 20th accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds, and the rain turned to snow over the Scottish hills. In its wake a strong northerly flow delivered heavy snow showers to northern and eastern Scotland and eastern England on the 21st/22nd, with a 20cm snow cover for a time over the North York Moors.
Text Box: A warm front brought general rain overnight on the 22nd/23rd and the next four days were generally cloudy and mild with rain at times, heaviest over high ground in the West and North - 90mm fell at Shap (Cumbria) in 48 hours on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

The flow veered northerly again by the 28th and a series of depressions brought heavy rain to southern England and the Channel Islands between the 27th and 29th with 74mm in 72 hours at Shanklin (Isle of Wight). North of the Thames the rain turned to wet snow at times, though little settled at low levels; meanwhile the northern half of the UK was mostly fine and frosty. On the 30th at Altnaharra (Sutherland) the temperature rose from -14.9C at dawn to -9.1C by early afternoon, dropping back to -15.8C by mid-evening. The month's lowest temperature of -16.1C occurred overnight 30th/31st at Kinbrace (also in Sutherland) and this was the lowest December reading anywhere in the UK since 1995. As the year drew to a close, a deep depression brought widespread rain with heavy snow over hills; winds rose to gale force, disrupting many Hogmanay celebrations, and a peak gust of 81kn was logged at Fair Isle.

Mean temperature was within 0.5 degC of the 1971-2000 mean in most areas although parts of northern Scotland were about 1 degC above. Rainfall was mostly within 20 per cent of normal, but the south coast between Dorset and Sussex was very wet with excesses of 40-80 per cent, while much of Northern Ireland reported deficits of 20-40 per cent. Sunshine duration was generally above average - by more than 50 per cent locally in the north Midlands, Yorkshire and Shetland.
                                                                                                                                         
    TEMPERATURE   SUNSHINE   RAINFALL        
                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                 
                                  Highest and lowest totals             Highest and lowest totals        
                                  on record for month    
Maximum fall in 24 hrs
   (beginning 09 h)
        on record for month    
Days with snow or sleet
 
Days with fog
(Vis <220 yards at 09 h)
 
                                                                                         
     
Difference from average
   
Difference from average
 
Highest maximum
   
Lowest minimum
   
No. of days with grass
  minimum below 0C
   
Days of no sunshine
 
Maximum duration
       
First year of record
         
Days of no rainfall
 (0.1 mm or less)
         
First year of record
         
Days with thunder
     
  PLACE  
Mean Maximum
   
Mean minimum
             
No. of air frosts
       
Total for month
                   
Total for month
                   
                               
% of average
                   
% of average
                 
                                                                     
                                   
Highest
   
Lowest
 
Year
             
Highest
   
Lowest
 
Year
       
             
Date
   
Date
         
Date
         
Year
         
Date
         
Year
           
                                                                     
    C     C     C     C           Hrs     Hrs       Hrs     Hrs       mm     mm       mm     mm          
                                                                                                                                         
  *Hampstead   07.7   +0.2   02.7   +0.2   12.5   13   -02.1   16   19   06   09   06.8   09   066   147   1910   085   1962   008   1956   11   11   12   066   100   1910   175   1914   10   1933   00   03   03  
  Thorney Island   08.9   +0.3   03.8   +0.1   13.0   13   -04.2   16   18   04   12   07.4   07   066   112   1958   114   2001   037   1966   11   29   27   100   137   1941   165   1993   19   1953   00   00   00  
  *Coltishall   07.9   +0.8   03.0   +0.5   13.3   13   -03.2   08   15   07   15   06.7   07   057   113   1979   082   1999   022   2002   14   16   20   076   127   1964   120   1965   24   1988   00   02   00  
  *Wittering   07.0   +0.5   02.0   -0.2   12.7   13   -03.5   08   18   11   15   06.8   07   063   127   1950   082   2001   020   1956   15   16   20   065   120   1948   130   1978   07   1963   00   04   00  
                                                                     
  Lyneham   07.4   +0.2   02.8   0.0   12.3   12   -05.0   08   16   09   15   07.2   07   052   103   1952   083   2001   017   1956   10   16   01   076   104   1945   159   1959   16   1988   00   00   01  
  Ross-on-Wye   07.7   +0.3   02.2   -1.2   14.0   12   -05.0   08   18   10   16   06.8   07   045   092   1915   078   1948   012   1989   11   13   20   069   097   1859   197   1929   11   1991   00   00   00  
  *St Athan   08.4   +0.4   04.2   +0.1   12.4   12   -01.4   30   13   03   17   06.2   07   039   085   1954   072   2001   003   1956   13   32   12   124   132   1954   208   1965   31   1988   00   00   02  
  St Mawgan   09.5   +0.2   05.6   0.0   12.9   12   00.1   30   04   00   09   07.3   03   059   107   1945   103   2001   027   1988   10   19   31   114   098   1944   233   1959   30   1991   00   00   00  
                                                                     
  *Edgbaston   06.8   +0.2   03.5   +0.1   12.2   12   -01.6   08   17   04   15   05.1   07   055   124   1887   090   1891   005   1890   13   17   20   091   128   1887   166   1965   10   1926   00   01   00  
  Valley   09.0   +0.1   04.6   -0.8   11.8   13   -03.9   08   12   05   11   06.2   17   059   120   1946   080   1960   025   1998   13   16   10   092   100   1941   179   1964   17   1963   00   00   00  
  Ringway   07.6   +0.4   02.3   -0.7   12.2   12   -06.2   31   18   10   12   06.7   07   052   126   1945   075   2001   016   1947   15   15   20   083   105   1942   180   1965   11   1963   00   03   00  
  *Watnall   06.6   +0.1   02.3   -0.3   12.3   13   -04.2   31   16   12   16   06.7   07   067   135   1948   075   2001   012   1956   15   25   20   093   172   1941   180   1965   19   1963   00   03   01  
                                                                     
  Leeming   06.5   -0.5   00.9   -1.4   12.2   13   -08.6   31   19   14   14   06.4   07   061   144   1945   077   1967   014   1972   11   16   20   058   097   1945   125   1978   16   1988   00   05   02  
  *Boulmer   07.5   +0.6   02.8   +0.4   13.4   05   -04.6   31   14   09   13   06.2   07   062   137   1945   077   1967   021   2002   10   23   20   101   168   1945   205   1978   17   1975   00   04   01  
  Eskdalemuir   05.4   0.0   00.4   -0.4   10.6   12   -09.0   31   21   15   17   06.3   08   049   133   1911   074   1967   003   1912   12   32   31   164   102   1911   351   1993   33   1933   00   06   00  
  *Bishopton   06.6   -0.2   02.2   0.0   11.5   05   -07.2   31   21   10   13   05.8   11   047   147   1921   072   2001   009   1956   11   33   24   141   132   1921   261   1999   15   1933   00   03   01  
                                                                     
  Leuchars   07.0   +0.3   01.7   -0.4   12.3   05   -07.0   09   22   10   13   05.8   11   057   112   1921   082   1967   016   1934   16   21   20   060   095   1921   155   1978   08   1926   00   06   00  
  Dyce   06.9   +0.5   01.4   -0.1   14.9   05   -08.7   31   20   13   13   05.5   07   043   096   1941   067   1951   016   2002   14   25   31   093   116   1941   160   1978   20   1991   00   10   00  
  *Stornoway   07.5   0.0   03.7   +0.4   11.1   05   -03.2   31   14   05   19   04.3   11   029   117   1880   057   1995   006   1884   09   24   31   139   111   1943   222   1985   29   1977   01   06   00  
  *Aldergrove   07.7   -0.1   03.2   0.0   11.9   12   -05.1   30   16   06   08   05.9   29   052   100   1927   077   2001   017   1954   09   18   19   075   096   1927   195   1978   15   1963   00   02   00  
                                                                     
                                                                                                                                         
  Stations marked with an asterisk record sunshine electronically; comparisons      
  with earlier records are therefore somewhat speculative. Thorney Island's      
  sunshine figures are made at a nearby site.