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Met Office records wettest winter for at least 250 years

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

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This winter has been the wettest for at least a quarter of a millennium with the Westcountry receiving double the seasonal average rainfall, new figures out today have revealed.

The announcement comes after a bruising few months for the region with large parts of Somerset still under feet of water.

The Met Office said the incessant rain – which saw just one dry day recorded in Devon and Cornwall during two months – is the worst since records began in 1766.

The Exeter-based weather forecaster said provisional rainfall figures from December 1 to February 25 confirm the UK has had its wettest winter since national records began in 1910.

But it has also been the wettest winter in the long running England and Wales Precipitation series going back as far as 1766, the year William Pitt the Elder became Prime Minister.

Forecasters in Exeter had not anticipated the deluge and actually told councils in November to expect “drier than usual” conditions this winter.

But analysis of the three-month period showed that 17 inches (435mm) of rain was recorded up to Monday this week, beating the previous record of 423 mm set in 1915.

A spokesman for the met Office said: “We have seen some contrast between the south and north of the UK, with northern Scotland having received a third more rainfall than its long term average in contrast to the almost two and a half times seen in southeast and central southern England.

“The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic - as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions.”

The UK is on target for a warmer than average winter - typically by around 1.5C.

With very little snow and ice, the UK average mean temperature for the winter so far is 5.2C making it the 5th warmest since the national series records began in 1910.

It is the warmest since 2007 which was 5.6C and the record was set in 1989 which averaged 5.8C.

The South England has seen 12% more sunshine than average while receiving 83 % more rain, while Scotland has only seen 78 % of average sunshine hours while receiving almost 50% more rain.

February saw heavy rain for much of the UK with southeast and central southern England receiving 133.3mm, almost two and a half times the monthly average.

South West England and south Wales received 201 mm, double the average amount.

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