February 2020 - Record Breaking Rainfall


February 2020 has been the wettest February on record for UK, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the second wettest (behind February 1990) for Scotland. It has also been the fifth wettest of any calendar month in a series from 1862 behind only October 1903 (227mm), December 2015 (217mm), November 2009 (215mm), and December 1929 (213mm).

February rainfall, 2020, in percentage - compared to the long term average Credit: Met Office

FEBRUARY 2020 - Granada Region

No surprises that many of the north west's data sites recorded a record breaking month for rainfall this February.

In terms of counties; Cumbria, Lancahsire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester all has their wettest on record.

Stonyhurst in Lancashire had its wettest February in the sites 127 year history, recording 330% of the expected rainfall compared to the long term average. 310mm fell compared to the expected 94mm.

Rochdale recorded 345% of expected rainfall, the wettest in its 67 year history. Levens Hall in Cumbria recorded 292mm (315%) compared to the expected 94mm.

In addition, on the 8th February, several Met Office sites reported their wettest February day on record - Preston, Morecambe, Myerscough, Levens Hall.

Three named storms crossed the UK during February - Ciara, Dennis and Jorge. The heavy rainfall throughout the month resulted in some severe impacts with many areas flooded, including parts of Yorkshire, Wales and the Midlands.

February has been a notably mild, but not a record breaking, month for temperature.

WINTER 2020 - UK

This winter (December, January, February) has been the 5th wettest winter on record (data back to 1862) for the UK as a whole as well as the 5th mildest.

Provisional Winter Stats for the UK - Temperature, rainfall and sunshine Credit: Met Office

Why has it been so wet recently?

Not only has there been a very strong jet stream high in the atmosphere, but it has also been further south than normal. This has allowed a succession of Atlantic (low pressure) storm systems to cross the UK, including Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge.

Is this due to Climate Change?

Met Office records show there is a recent trend of increasing rainfall on seasonal and annual timescales. Since 1998, we have seen six of the ten wettest years on record. However, rainfall patterns in the UK have always shown a large range of natural variation, which makes it more difficult to unambiguously identify long term trends linked to climate change. However, wetter winters have been observed and is consistent with what we expect to happen in the future with continued climate change.

Additionally, there is evidence that the rainfall experienced in single extreme events has been affected by climate change – for example, a study on Storm Desmond, which brought widespread flooding to Northern England and Southern Scotland in 2015, found such events have been made 59% more likely by climate change.