Britain's weather extremes

Early snowfall and high winds have brought disruption to parts of the UK, affecting roads and ferry services.

Snow fell across high ground from the north midlands towards Scotland, with the Highlands particularly affected.

Meteorologists said it was unlikely that any region would escape the gloom, with parts of Wales and Scotland expected to bear the brunt of the bad weather, and the longer term forecast fails to lift the dark skies, with storms expected towards the end of the week as well.

The autumn season has already attracted attention with a wide and wonderful array of colours on trees. The rare weather patterns of this year, including a lack of autumn gales, high rainfall and little frost combined to give the country a splendid colour.

But what of the other weather extremes the UK has faced? Here's a look through a range of weather records for the UK.

Although we are currently experiencing something of a cold snap there is, fortunately, some way to go before the lowest temperature records are reached.

General view showing snowy conditions in Braemar, ScotlandDanny Lawson, PA Wire

Coldest days


The lowest ever daily temperature in the UK is -27.2 degrees Celsius. It has been recorded three times, all in Scotland: in Braemar in Aberdeenshire on 11 February 1895 and on 10 January 1982, and in Altnaharra in the Highlands on 30 December 1995.

The lowest ever daily temperature in England is -26.1C. It was recorded in Newport in Shropshire on 10 January 1982. In Wales it has been 70 years since they experienced a record cold day; on 21 January 1940 in Rhyader the temperature fell to -23.3C.

In Northern Ireland the coldest day is a little more recent after the temperature fell to -17.5C at Magherally near Banbridge, County Down on 1 January 1979.

Darkest month

As the days get shorter, the early darkness brings with it stronger feelings of winter. The shortest day is 21 December, but which months have recorded the lowest amounts of sunshine?

Incredibly in London in December 1890 there were no recorded hours of sunshine and this is the record for the UK. Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point of the UK mainland, recorded just 0.6 hours of sunshine in January 1983. Llwynon, Powys had only 2.7 hours of sunshine during January 1962, while Silent Valley, County Down recorded 8.3 hours in January 1996 - the lowest monthly amount of sunshine in Northern Ireland.

A car makes its way through a flooded road in Somerset after two days of heavy rainBen Birchall, PA Archive

Most rainfall


When measuring rain the Met Office classes a rainfall day as 0900 - 0900 GMT and the UK record for the most rain in that time is 279mm, which fell in Martinstown in Dorset on 18 July 1955. The Scottish record is not too far behind with 238mm of rain at Soly Main Adit, Loch Lomond on 17 January 1974. In Wales 211mm of rain fell at Rhondda, Gwent on 11 November 1929 and in Northern Ireland 158.9mm fell at Tollymore Forest, County Down on 31 October 1968.

The highest rainfall total for any 24-hour period in the UK occurred at Seathwaite in Cumbria when 316.4mm fell from 00:00 to 23:59 on 19 November 2009.

The record for the most rain to fall in the shortest timeframe was set on 10 August 1893, when 32mm fell in five minutes in Preston, Lancashire.

The most rain to fall in one hour is 92mm, which soaked Maidenhead, Berkshire, on 12 July 1901.

A young girl losing control of her umbrellaBen Birchall, PA Wire

Strongest wind


One other bitter aspect of winter is the wind, but fortunately record winds are not recorded too often. The strongest gust of wind ever recorded in the UK is 173mph, recorded at the Cairngorm summit on 20 March 1986. Gwennap Head in Cornwall holds the English record with a wind speed of 118mph, while the Northern Irish record is again in County Down. Kilkeel recorded 125mph on 12 January 1974 and the Welsh record is just one mile-per-hour slower, when Rhoose, South Glamorgan, recorded a gust of 124mph on 28 October 1989.

But let's not get too mired in the doom and gloom of winter and instead let's look at some of the warm and sunny records that will hopefully be broken next year.

Highest temperature

The highest daily temperature in the UK was recorded in Faversham in Kent on 10 August 2003. The temperature reached a record 38.5C. This was obviously a warm front passing across parts of Britain, as the highest temperature recorded in Scotland is 32.9C at Greycrook in the Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003.

The record in Wales is 35.2C, recorded at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire, on 2 August 1990 and in Northern Ireland the record is 30.8C at Knockarevan in County Fermanagh on 30 June 1976, and also at Shaw's Bridge in Belfast on 12 July 1983.

Sun-worshippers relax on the beach at Southend, during the UK's record hot spell in 2003Gareth Fuller, PA Archive

Sunniest month

Earlier the records for the least amount of sunshine in a month were mentioned, and the sunniest places are measured over the same timescale.

The record for the sunniest-ever place in the UK is currently held by Eastbourne in Sussex. It recorded 383.9 hours of sunshine in July 1911. Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire holds the record for the sunniest ever place in Wales. It enjoyed 354.3 hours in July 1955.

Tiree in Argyll and Bute holds the record for the sunniest place in Scotland, having enjoyed 329.1 hours in May 1975 and Mount Stewart in County Down is Northern Ireland's sunniest-ever place after enjoying 298.0 hours of sunshine in June 1940.

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