2020 was almost the hottest and sunniest year on record in East Anglia

2020 was the second hottest year in East Anglia since Met Office temperature records started in 1884 Credit: Joanne Joyce / John Callis

2020 will be remembered for different reasons but it was also the second warmest and sunniest ever recorded in the East of England.

The year was beaten by 2003 on sunshine totals and by 2014 in terms of temperature.

The final figures are not yet confirmed but early indications are that the overall mean temperature for 2020 in East Anglia will be around 11.3°C, just 0.15°C lower than the record set in the region in 2014.

Temperatures this year were about 1°C above the 1981-2010 average in the region.

The provisional sunshine total for 2020 in the region is 1,846 hours - just behind the record annual total set in 2003 of 1,868 hours.

It was a year of extreme contrasts with May the driest since rainfall records in the region started in 1862 but December ending up the wettest for more than 30 years.

Spring was the sunniest on record but at the other end of the scale October this year had less than sunshine than any other year apart from 1976.

Poppies in a field under cloudy skies at Newbourne near Woodbridge, Suffolk on 24 May 2020 Credit: Paul Coates

Several months made it into the top ten warmest on record for East Anglia:

  • January - joint fifth warmest on record

  • February - fifth warmest on record

  • Winter - fourth warmest on record

  • April - joint fifth warmest on record

  • Spring - seventh warmest on record

  • August - joint second warmest on record

  • November - seventh warmest on record

Nationally across the UK, the year is heading towards being the third or fourth warmest on record once all the data from the end of December is incorporating into the figures.

The year will also be among the ten wettest ever and the ten sunniest in the UK.

In the Anglia region there were some very wet months in February, August, October and December but balanced to some extent by a very dry spring - the fourth driest in East Anglia since records began in 1862.

Overall the year will finish up wetter than normal in the region but not by much and only the wettest for six years.

Flooding in Bedfordshire on Christmas Day

December is likely to end up being the wettest in the region since 1989 with nearly double the usual rainfall.

It was particularly wet in the run up to Christmas which led to flooding along major rivers in Northampton and Bedford as well as parts of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said: “We have seen a number of exceptionally wet winters in the last decade, and due to climate change, we expect UK winters to become wetter."

A double rainbow over Sea Palling church in Norfolk on 19 November 2020 Credit: Revd Canon Catherine Dobson

The Met Office says Saturday 3 October, the day which followed Storm Alex, provisionally holds the record for the UK’s wettest day on record, in data stretching back to 1891 – that’s over 47,000 days.

There was enough rain on that day across the UK to fill Loch Ness.

That day also saw the highest daily rainfall total in the Anglia region with 52 mm (1 inch) recorded at Stowe in Buckinghamshire.

Note that one cubic kilometer is one million million litres (a trillion) or about 220 billion gallons

Remarkably 2020 also had the third wettest day with the rainfall associated with storm Dennis in February.

A little light snow on a leaf at Graveley in Hertfordshire on New Year's Day 2021 Credit: Carla Sears

It was officially a White Christmas in the region with a little snow reported at 5am at the weather station on the military air base at Wattisham in Suffolk.