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December's weather in Marlborough was warmer than expected - throughout 2018 it was warmer & windier with several angry storms

A winter scene near Marlborough at the turn of the century - will we have a repeat in January 2019? (Photo: Eric Gilbert) A winter scene near Marlborough at the turn of the century - will we have a repeat in January 2019? (Photo: Eric Gilbert) December 2018 did not turn to be a typical winter month in Marlborough as the mean temperature was 2.1C above average - the third warmest since records began here in 1984. The record was set in 2015, which was a remarkable 5.5C above average.

The month began with warm air from a southerly direction. This meant that temperatures were 5C above average with the highest occurring on December 1, with a maximum of 12.8C. In contrast December 14 was a very cold day when the thermometer struggled to reach just 2.5C - being 5.3C below the average.

We experienced very few air frosts - just four.   The average number over the past 34 years is eleven air frosts for the month. The coldest night came in the early hours of December 14 with a minimum of -2.6C.  The record frost was recorded on the night of December 20 in 1999 with a bone chilling -13.1C.

December started with many wet days although the second and fourth weeks were predominantly dry. The rainfall total was 112.9mm, which was 22.9mm above the 34-year average.  It was only the fourth above average month in 2018. 

On December 18 - the wettest day in the month - 17.6mm of precipitation was recorded. However, there were 13 totally dry days. 

Although at the end of the month we experienced a succession of gloomy days - the result of mild, moist air from mid-Atlantic - we did enjoy 64 hours of sunshine.  There were nine days when the sun did not shine, mainly towards the end of the month.

Summary for 2018:

The year 2018 was the fourth warmest since records began here in 1984 being 0.9C above the 34-year average. With climate change ever in the news, it is interesting to note that in order of warmth these four years were 2011, 2014, 2006 and 2018 respectively.

The annual rainfall total was 783mm, which was 62mm below the 34-year average. The extreme years were in 1996 with only 594mm and the very wet year of 2002 with 1146mm.

January saw three storms affect our weather with Eleanor at the beginning of the month bringing 52mph winds and 14.7mm of rainfall.  In mid January storm David arrived and later we felt the effect of storm Fiona with wind gusting to 47mph and 17.3mm of rainfall on January 21.

February was notable for the two cold spells at the beginning and end of the month. There were 14 nights with an air frost that gave a minimum of -9.8C on February 28. The wind veered into the northeast during the last week bringing snow on three days.  We had snow showers on February 6 and February 9.   

Storm Emma arrived early March with winds gusting to 37mph. It was also the wettest month of the year with a total of 130.9mm when the average was 57.4mm.  Snow fell on March 1 and 2 also from March 17 to 19 - tokens of what the newspapers delighted in calling 'The Beast from the East' (beginning on February 24) and later on 'The Mini Beast from the East'.

Spring suddenly arrived in April with a mean temperature 1.5C above average. There were four days with temperatures in the 20s and a maximum of 26.5C on April 19. It was the fourth wettest month in 2018.

May began with very warm days, the hottest occurred on May 7 with a maximum of 28.1C.  That followed soon after a late air frost when the thermometer dropped to -0.2C on May 1.

Hector brushed past the UK in June that gave breezy early summer days with wind gusts up to 23mph mid month. However, it was a very dry month with just 5.3mm of rainfall against the average of 54.5mm - there were 22 dry days. In total we enjoyed 235 hours of strong sunshine with 16.88 hours on June 27.

July we remember well as a hot month with a mean temperature almost 3C above average. There was only one day when the thermometer did not reach 20C. The peak temperature occurred on July 26 with a maximum of 30.4C. It was also a much drier month, less than half the average rainfall with just 25mm.  In all we enjoyed 249 hours of strong sunshine.

In August the fine weather continued with a maximum of 29.3C on August 5. The mean temperature was 0.8C above average. On only two days did the sun not shine. 15 hours of sunshine were enjoyed on August 5. A very wet day broke the pattern on August 26 with 18.8mm of rain.

September proved a relatively dry month with just 48mm of rainfall when the average was 62mm. The first week began with temperatures in the 20s, but a deep depression nearby on September 19 and 20 gave winds peaking at 40mph and 39mph.

October again brought us below average rainfall, just 44.6mm with 22 totally dry days.  A record cold day occurred on October 27 when the thermometer resolutely refused to rise above 5.2C when it should have been nearer 15C.  The wind picked up mid-month rising to 40mph and 38mph on October 12 to 13.

November was another mild month with the mean 0.7C above average. Storm Diana was close by towards the end of the month that again brought strong winds gusting to 47mph on November 29. There were 6 air frosts dropping to -2.0C on the 2nd. This month reversed the trend of below average monthly rainfall totals with 96.5mm.

And so Marlborough experienced a surprisingly warm December - see above.   You can find out more from Eric Gilbert's website: https://www.windrushweather.co.uk

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