A look back at 2017's weather
Blog by Jo Farrow
10th January 2018 15:18

A look back at 2017's weather

Another warm year, in climate terms, even if you can't remember much of a summer. June was hot in the south, wet in the north. Only a few snow events overall, six named storms and the bizarre Ophelia, stealing the show on the 30th anniversary of the Great 87 Storm. 

We'll look at the UK weather in another overall warm year and set against the global warming climate. Even if you have thought it's not very warm today, along with Donald 'Bundle Up' Trump, the worrying pattern is there. Just today WMO, the world meteorological organisation announced that Australia had seen it's 3rd hottest year, on record in 2017.


The storm naming season runs over winter, so we have to look back to the 2016/17 list for two storms which arrived in February; Doris and Ewan. Doris caused a stir on social media due to her name and then the severe weather which affected the UK early on the 23rd. Warnings for wind, snow and heavy rain were issued.

Heavy snow falls affected Scotland, the strongest winds for western Britain with a 94mph gust for inland Wales. This was the highest recorded UK gust of 2017, not including mountain sites, well into hurricane force. There was widespread disruption to transport for NW Britain.  

A few days later Met Eireann announced Storm Ewan which also brought strong winds to Scotland. That was it for the named storms, only 5, not many. Leaping forward to this “winter”, Storm Aileen arrived in mid-September. The strong winds and heavy rain were forecast for overnight and morning rush hour on the 13th. There was disruption and power interruptions.

There was the #Ophelia event, we’ll come back to that. Storm Britain was named by Met Eireann. Following the problems from Ophelia and coinciding with high tides, there were flooding issues for Ireland and coastal Wales.

Storm Caroline accompanied an amber warning for strong winds over northern Scotland and bought a 93mph gust to Fair Isle. Much of Britain was very windy on Thursday 7th Dec.

Storm Dylan nipped through early on New Year’s Eve, affecting Ireland and then Scotland but was away well before any Hogmanay celebrations began.


The lowest temperature was -13C in Shropshire & Invernesshire in December.

Summer came early to England, well before school holidays. In June, somewhere in the UK reached at least 30 °C every day from 17th to 21st and the hottest day of the year was recorded at Heathrow (Greater London) on 21st when the temperature reached 34.5 °C, the UK’s highest June temperature since 1976. The monthly graphic below shows how warm eastern England was in June 2017

Despite the heatwave, it was a wet month, Scotland had its wettest June since 1910 (157 mm) and the UK overall its sixth wettest June (113.7 mm). Edinburgh had 180.6mm (over 7")

In July, Coverack in Cornwall was struck by flash flooding as heavy, thundery rain stagnated over the area. AS water poured down to the sea, roads became rivers and rubble and vehicles were swept away. 

All of the UK countries received below average rainfall, with Scotland being the driest relative to average. Here only 94.9% of rainfall fell when compared with the long-term average.  Wales, with 98.6% of long-term average rainfall, was the wettest relative to average. However, Northern Ireland and Wales received average rainfall in 2017. Wales was slightly less sunny than average and Scotland slightly sunnier. Not much in it though. To the lee of the Pennines over NE England saw a good share of sunshine last year. Coastal Wales/SW England were more dull with more cloud in the prevailing SW winds. 

Provisional stats from Met Office show 2017 will be fifth warmest year for the UK since records began in 1910. All the nine warmest years since 1910, have occurred since 2000.

Globally and Ophelia

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has already provisionally announced that 2017, globally, was set to be among the three warmest years on record.

    One dataset, produced by ECMWF, shows that the global average surface air temperature exceeded 14.7°C, making 2017:

    • about 0.1°C cooler than the warmest year on record, 2016, and warmer than the previous second warmest year, 2015
    • the warmest year on record not influenced by warming El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific
    • around 0.5°C warmer than the 1981–2010 climatological reference period
    • an estimated 1.2°C warmer than the pre-industrial value for the 18th century.

    Back in October, watchers of Atlantic hurricanes gaped in awe at Hurricane Ophelia whirling northwards. After the devastation on the western side of the ocean earlier in the season, it looked at one point that Ophelia might reach Ireland as a hurricane. Yet the transition did take place and post-tropical hurricane Ophelia brought wind damage and widespread flooding to Ireland. Even for parts of the UK which didn't' feel the effects of Ophelia's wind and rain, you may remember the strange pinky red sun of Monday October 16th as Saharan dust and Iberian wildfire smoke particles got caught up in the flow from the south ahead of the ex-hurricane. As the world warms then more and more extreme events will take place, severe weather occurrences will appear more often.  Just because it is cold now in January, doesn't get away from the overall warming climate trend.

    Climate change discussion on the Netweather community forum

    Edinburgh Botanical gardens enclosure


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