Overall a very mild year, but with few notable extremes. A very wet summer in the northeast; generally the worst summer of this decade. Severe flooding in Wales in October and a Boxing Day night storm. An exceptionally sunny winter (226 hours in London). April saw some exceptional flooding in the Midlands.


January. Very mild overall (5.2C CET), but drier and colder from the 20th on. Sunny and wet. A wet and windy first week, with particularly damaging gales 3-4th. The Sussex area was particularly badly affected, and then Selsey was hit by a damaging tornado on the night of the 6th-7th. Just before midnight (11.45pm) the 100 mph tornado cut a 700m track from west to east through the town, causing much damage (destroying one of Patrick Moore's observatories), accompanied by golf ball size hailstones. The damage was estimated as costing £2 million. Conservatories flattened, walls destroyed, parts of roofs torn off, fences ripped up ... Thunderstorms were widespread along the south coast that night. Warm spell midmonth, including a 17.3 recorded at Prestatyn on the 10th, 15C at Heathrow on the 9th (the highest for 50 years), 14.1 in Hampstead, 16.7 at Hawarden, and 16.0 at Saunton Sands (Devon). There was a brief cold snap, with snow in the north, midmonth.

February. Extremely mild (7.3C CET); indeed, equal with 1990 as the mildest this century. Particularly mild in the English Midlands and central Scotland. Cold end in the north. Very dry in the south, but wet in western and northern Scotland. Parts of the southeast had the sunniest February of the century. In an exceptionally mild spell mid-month (12-15th) of warm and sunny weather, the new record high for February was set: 19.7C at Greenwich (London) on the 13th, and also 19.6C in Worcester. Tivington made 19.1C on the 14th, and Prestatyn 18.1C on the 15th, but high temperatures were wide-spread as a result of warm air and warm sunshine (an unusual combination for mild winter days) 13C was exceeded somewhere in the country every day from the 8th to the 20th. The high temperatures also occurred in the middle of the month.

March. March was overall warm (7.9C), wet, and dull (but not as dull as 1986). A cold surge at the beginning gave snow over Scotland. Altnaharra recorded -17.0, the lowest reading of the winter. The night of the 29th/30th was exceptionally mild - widely 12 or 13C, perhaps as high as 15.0 at Rhyl (north Wales), following a very warm day (19C in East Anglia).

April. Generally extremely wet - the wettest since 1818 over England and Wales, and cold (the coldest since 1989). An average of 138mm across England and Wales. Dull in places too.Widespread and exceptionally severe flooding across the Midlands and East Anglia on Maundy Thursday 9th: a narrow but slowly moving yet very active front, fed by a cold NE airflow, became unexpectedly stationary, giving large amounts of rain on the 9-10th: 77 mm at Pershore (Worcs.) The rivers Leam and Avon were particularly badly affected, leading to flooding in Warwick and Leamington town centres, and great traffic disruption as flooding affected the A46 and M40 (with up to 3' water in some places). Further away, the Nene flooded the Northampton area, after 54 mm of rain, with 48 mm falling between 09.30 and 22.30. (There is some argument that poor water management and poor drainage contributed to the extent of the flooding of the Avon, Nene, Leam, and Cherwell.) Six deaths. After the depression moved east, the cold air trying to push south then won, and there were widespread snow showers midmonth to the 15th, leading to a "white Easter" in some places. North Wales saw particularly heavy snowfalls on the 10-11, and northern England on the 14-15th. Mold had 37 cm on the night of the 140-15th. -9.0C recorded at Altnharra on the morning of the 10th. A warm day on the 22nd, though: 23.8 at Rickmansworth. It was also very wet on the Scottish east coast. This year, April was colder than March, for the first time since 1990.

May. Very warm (13.1). Night-time minima were particularly high, with a notable warm spell from the 8th to the 20th where 24C was exceeded somewhere in Britain. 28.6 in Southampton on the 13th. Very dry (average England and Wales rainfall, only 25% of average). The warmest on record in the Southampton region. Cool start and end.

June. Very wet (fifth wettest June of the century) and dull (with an average 4.54 hours per day). The temperature though was about average (14.2C CET). It was particularly wet in the SW. There was a severe thunderstorm in Reading in the afternoon of the 13th, accompanied by a damaging tornado.

July. Rather cool (15.5) and very dull. Changeable. Dry in the east of England but wet elsewhere, particularly Scotland. A storm at Ferryhill, Durham, gave 68 mm of rain in 3 hours, and 50.6 mm of that in 90 minutes, leading to local flooding. Following heavy rain on the 31st, a landslide blocked the West Coast railway line at Lockerbie.

August. Notable geographical range: quite warm, very sunny, and dry in the east and south, but wet and dull in western Scotland and northwestern England. The average rainfall across England and Wales was 47% of average. For example, it was 23.6C at Heathrow (+2.0); only August 1995 has been sunnier in the last seven years; and only 12 mm of rain across southern Britain. That is not the way I remember it in eastern Scotland (although it was dry). The top temperature was 32C in London on the 10th.

September. Warm, unsettled, very wet in the south and east, and very, very dull in the east (at least it was warm there). Tornadoes reported around Ashbourne and Matlock (Derbys.) on the 9th. On the 21st Scotland had a particularly warm day (26.8 at Aboyne, Gramp.) which for many places (such as my own station) was the warmest day of the year. Luton received nearly 80mm of rain on the 27th.

October. Cold and very wet: the wettest since 1987. Sunny in the north, but very dull in eastern England. Average temperatures arrived at with generally slightly low maxima and slightly high minima. Very wet end to the month: 319mm of rain in the Rhondda valley in 8 days towards the end of the month, leading to flooding, damage, and evacuations in Merthyr Vale, Aberfan, and Pontypridd, worst around the 20th-23rd. This sort of rainfall led to extensive flooding in the Welsh valleys and the western Midlands, in some places the worst since 1979. Loss of life. Some places in Wales had 500mm of rain this month.

November. November across Britain was a pretty average month. Rainfall was average. The flooding in the west country at the start of the month soon subsided. On the whole, the east was cold, but the west warmer than average. The highest temperature of the month was 17C at Prestatyn and Madley (Herefordshire) on the 9th; the coldest, -11 on the 18th at Aviemore. Temperatures also varied across the month, but with the third week being particularly cold. The second half of the month was quite dry, particularly in the east. It was however a very sunny month (but not as sunny as 1996).

December. Changeable, very mild at times. The month was slightly warmer than average, particularly in the north and west; the east was very slightly cooler than average. A cold spell in the north at the start was more than compensated for by a very mild spell midmonth, with a few favoured spots (e.g. Kinloss) reaching 16C. Quite dry in the east. A very mild Christmas. A Great Storm on Boxing Day, with particularly strong winds across Northern Ireland and central Scotland. The Forth Road Bridge was completely closed for the first time ever. Prestwick airport logged winds of 103 mph, and Glasgow airport 93 mph; mild too, with 15C in the Midlands. This storm is now known in Ireland as "Hurricane Stephen". Another (not quite so bad) storm followed the Boxing Day Storm on the 29th. An avalanche on Aonach Mor (near Ben Nevis) killed four people. Best places to be: Bristol and Glasgow.


1998