1948

A wet January, a remarkable early warm spell in March, the record lowest October minimum, a prolonged London fog in November, and a record warm day in December makes 1948 a very good year. The prolonged run of warm months comes to an end in June. A variable spring, although it was the sunniest sping on record, with around 594 hours (until 2020).


January. The wettest of the century over England and Wales, with an average of 177 mm (almost 220% of average). Very mild and stormy, with some serious flooding in northern England. Tynemouth had 160 mm of rain - smashing its previous record by 41 mm. A very dull month too.

February. Mild at first, but with a cold second half. Dry in many places, but with some snow, particularly in the SE. There was a severe cold spell around the 21st: maximum of only -4C in Kent on the 20th and 21st, with a minimum of -15C at East Malling on the 22nd. 35cm of snow. There was an equal record minimum of -7.2 for Guernsey on the 19th.

March. Mostly dry and sunny, particularly in the south. It was very foggy early on. The month was however most notable for an exceptional early heatwave. The temperature reached 23.9C in Wealdstone on March 9 (by three weeks the earliest date on which such a temperature has been attained; in fact, the reading was 75F, which could mean anything from 23.6 to 24.2), but temperatures over 21C (70F) widespread across southern England on the 9th, the earliest date on which this has happened so far. 21C was reached from Totnes to Durham. Later in the month it was very warm in Scotland, with 21.7C at Strathy (near Thurso).

April. The thirteenth consecutive month with above average temperatures across England and Wales.

May. Very variable: cold and unsettled at first, but a long warm and sunny spell in the middle, and then cold and frosty in the north at the end. On the 1st, hail lay 15 cm deep at White Waltham (Berks.). 27C recorded widely across the west on the 17th and 18th; cold air spread south on the 22nd, and there was a maximum of only 4C at Little Rissington (Gloucs.) on the 23rd. The fourteenth consecutive month above average temperature.

June. The first month at the end of a run fifteen consecutive warm months with beneath average temperatures.

July. There was a short but intense heatwave at the end of the month: 35C.0 at Milford (Surrey) on the 28th, and 34.4 at Worcester on the 29th. The high minimum of 23.3 at Westminster (London) was not bettered until 1990. However, the hot spell was preceded by a cold snap: most of July was unusually cool. In spite of some people's claims that "summers were better when we were lads and lasses", the 30s, 40s, and 50s were rather lean for very high temperatures. 1948 was the only year when 35.0C was reached after 1932 and before 1957. The 27.2C recorded at Benbecula on the 30th remains the highest temperature recorded in the Western Islands.

August. One of the dullest and wettest on record.The first half was very wet due to an abundance of thunderstorms. The first spell affected the south; 50mm of rain fell in 35 minutes at Silchester (near Basingstoke) on the 2nd (the Bank Holiday), and 102mm at Neath, and 100m at Silsoe (Beds,) that day. More violent thunderstorms in the south on the 6th: two feet of flood water on the London to Folkestone road. Severe gales on the 7-8th on the south coast with heavy rain, with gusts reaching 60 mph; 12 people died in the gales. A thunderstorm gave 108mm of rain at Stalbridge (Dorest) on the 8th. On the 11-12th low pressure gave continuous rain across southern Scotland , leading to severe flooding. 158mm of rain fell near Kelso in this spell, and the Tweed rose 17' above normal, 17cm above the previous record of 1831. 40 bridges in the area were lost, and the main east coast route could not be restored to service for three months.

September. Unsettled all month over much of the country, although the south fared rather better in the second half. Along with 1872, this year had the earliest recorded air frost in the London district: the 22 September. There was then a warm spell on the 26th, with 24C recorded in the SE. Contrast this with -6.1C recorded at Glenlivet on the 23rd - the third recorded lowest September minimum.

October. Mainly mild until the 24th when it turned colder The record low minimum for October was then set this month: -11.7C at Dalwhinnie on the 28th. It was dry and dul in most of England and Wales but wet and sunny in Scotland.

November. Dry and mild, and foggy at times. There were a few short unsettled spells. There was a maximum of only 2C at Leeming in fog on the 23rd. The month saw the start of nearly 5 days continuous fog in London, from the 26th. The duration of 4 days 18 hours is the equal record for low altitude, along with December 1952. Deaths from bronchitis more than doubled in the week that followed. The fog was particularly dense on the 27th. There was massive disruption to transport in London.

December. This month saw the December record high (until 2019) of 18.3C recorded at Achnashellach (Wester Ross) on the 2nd, as a result of warm air and the Fohn effect. Even Cape Wrath reached 17.2C. High temperatures were recorded at other places on the lee of hills in the southerly flow; e.g. 17.7 at Aber and Llandudno. The same day, nearly 100mm of rain fell in South Wales. It was a windy day, too. Nearly 5 days of continuous fog ended on the 1st. Overall the month was wet in the west but dry in the east.