North West could see more extreme weather like Storm Ciara in future, experts warn

Debris left from Storm Ciara in Salford Quays. Credit: PA

The North West could see more extreme weather in the future, leading meteorologists have warned.

Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, seen in the region, were part of the UK's wettest ever February and brought devastating flooding to the region. 

The Met Office's State of the UK Climate report reveals that 2020 was the first year when annual values for rainfall, temperature and sunshine each gained a place in the all-time top ten for the first time. Last year was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record.

Professor Liz Bentley, of the Royal Meteorological Society, says it clearly shows our climate has already shifted.

Storms Ciara and Dennis hit the the UK only one week apart, contributing to UK's wettest February and devastating homes and businesses with flooding.

The UK was battered with more than twice the average rainfall for February, with 300% quite widely in the north and west of the country, according to the report.

Debris washed up at Salford Quays after Storm Ciara. Credit: PA

Last year saw two of the three wettest days on record – February 15 and October 3 – from a historical data set of 47,000 days.

The 21st century has also seen the wettest and second wettest winters in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Credit: PA

Lead author and Senior Climate Scientist at the Met Office, Mike Kendon, said: “2020 was another notable year for the UK climate, with records broken for daily rainfall and monthly sunshine hours."

The sheer speed of such climate changes, both here and abroad, has unsettled Emma Howard Boyd, the chair of the Environment Agency.

The report also revealed temperatures during summertime in the UK will soar above 40C even if global warming is limited to 1.5C.

Data shows the average winter temperature for last year was 5.3C, which is 1.6C higher than the 1981 to 2010 average.

That makes December 2019 to February 2020 the fifth warmest winter on record, while the temperature last summer was 0.4C above average at 14.8C.

Mr Kendon said the figures indicated a new normal for the UK.

“In seven out of the last 10 years, we’ve seen temperatures of 34C in the UK compared to seven out of the previous 50 years before that,” he said. "So this is an indication that our baseline of our climate is changing.”