2006 Yearly Weather Summary in Durham

2006 was a remarkable warm year, the second warmest on record at Durham since 1850, only a negligible 0.02°C cooler than 2004. Every month except March was above average, with the year as a whole 1.4°C above the 1961-1990 mean. The warmest ten years at Durham are now as follows (to two decimal places):

Year and average temperature

2004 – 9.96°
2006 – 9.94°
2003 – 9.88°
1949 – 9.83°
2002 – 9.80°
1990 – 9.75°
2005 – 9.71°
1945 – 9.66°
1999 – 9.61°
1989 – 9.58°

Given the length of the Durham temperature record, it is remarkable that two months in 2006, July and September, proved to be the warmest on record, previous records being broken by a wide margin. Rainfall in 2006 was below average, and would have been an exceptionally dry year except for the wet months of May, November and December. Overall, it was only the 42nd driest year on record, dry but not remarkably so. Despite the warmth and below average rainfall, hours of bright sunshine were only just above average.

The extreme warmth of recent years is most remarkable: only five months in the last sixty have fallen below the monthly mean (calculated for the period 1961-1990) and even if the 1971-2000 means are used instead, this only increases to seven. Even if there remains debate about the exact causes, evidence of global warming in Durham is now unarguable.


Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

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