New 1991-2020 Climate Means for Durham

Met Office UK Climate Averages Header

The latest 30 years means have been published by the Met Office. The period covers the 30 years between 1991-2020 and will be used going forward as a representative of climate norms.

The figures show a warming of about 0.3 degC overall, particularly in late winter/spring, with a slight increase in sunshine, but also wetter, particularly the 2nd half of the year.

Durham’s new figures are below (previous 1981-2010 figures in parentheses)


Mean Max: 6.9 degC (6.6)

Mean Min: 1.3 degC (0.9)

Mean: 4.1 degC (3.8)

Air Frosts: 10.3 days (11.3)

Sunshine: 60.9 hrs (58.6)

Rainfall: 51.8 mm (52.3)

Days rain: 11.8 days (11.4)

January has warmed, and the mean maxima and minima are 0.3-0.4 degC higher. This has resulted in one day less air frost on average. Sunshine is up slightly, but rainfall is similar.


Mean Max: 7.8 degC (7.2)

Mean Min: 1.4 degC (0.9)

Mean: 4.6 degC (4.1)

Air Frosts: 9.8 days (11.2)

Sunshine: 84.4 hrs (80.3)

Rainfall: 44.6 mm (41.8)

Days rain: 9.9 days (9.3)

February has warmed substantially, with the mean maximum being 0.6 degC up from the 1981-2010 mean. The mean minimum is also 0.5 degC higher. This has resulted in a reduction of air frosts from 11.2 to 9.8 days on average. It has also become slightly sunnier and slightly wetter.


Mean Max: 9.9 degC (9.5)

Mean Min: 2.5 degC (2.3)

Mean: 6.2 degC  (5.9)

Air Frosts: 6.5 days (6.7)

Sunshine: 121.7 hrs (115.5)

Rainfall: 41.1 mm (44.6)

Days rain: 8.6 days (9.7)

March shows a warming, more in the mean maximum than the mean minimum. This hasn’t made much difference to air frosts, but sunshine has increased and it is a little drier.


Mean Max: 12.5 degC (11.9)

Mean Min: 4.1 degC (3.7)

Mean: 8.3 degC (7.8)

Air Frosts: 3.2 days (3.9)

Sunshine: 160.8 hrs (150.3)

Rainfall: 51.2 mm (52.7)

Days rain: 9.1 days (9.5)

April has become markedly warmer, particularly in the mean maximum. The high is now 0.6 degC higher. This means that air frosts are now down to 3 days from 4. Aprils have also been sunnier, with little change in rainfall.


Mean Max: 15.4 degC (15.0)

Mean Min: 6.5 degC (6.1)

Mean: 11.0 degC (10.5)

Air Frosts: 0.8 days (0.8)

Sunshine: 187.1 hrs (181.7)

Rainfall: 44.4 mm (44.2)

Days rain: 8.6 days (9.2)

May has followed the trend of warming, with both max and min being up by 0.4 degrees on average. We can still expect one air frost on average. Again, sunshine is slightly up, but there has been little change to rainfall.


Mean Max: 18.0 degC (17.6)

Mean Min: 9.3 degC (9.0)

Mean: 13.7 degC (13.3)

Air Frosts: 0.0 days (0.0)

Sunshine: 167.1 hrs (164.8)

Rainfall: 61.0 mm (55.4)

Days rain: 9.9 days (9.7)

June temperatures are up by 0.3-0.4 degC on average and it has become slightly wetter.


Mean Max: 20.2 degC (20.1)

Mean Min: 11.3 degC (11.1)

Mean: 15.8 degC (15.6)

Air Frosts: 0.0 days (0.0)

Sunshine: 174.3 hrs (172.3)

Rainfall: 60.9 mm (54.0)

Days rain: 10.7 days (9.0)

July hasn’t shown much change other than a slight increase in mean minimums, but has become slightly wetter and rain comes on two more days.


Mean Max: 19.9 degC (19.8)

Mean Min: 11.3 degC (11.0)

Mean: 15.6 degC (15.4)

Air Frosts: 0.0 days (0.0)

Sunshine: 167.3 hrs (167.3)

Rainfall: 66.5 mm (60.8)

Days rain: 10.3 days (9.6)

Again, the slight increase in temperature in August is due to the mean minimum, with a similar effect to July, a slight increase in rainfall and an average of nearly a day extra with rainfall.


Mean Max: 17.4 degC (17.2)

Mean Min: 9.3 degC (9.0)

Mean: 13.4 degC (13.1)

Air Frosts: 0.0 days (0.0)

Sunshine: 135.3 hrs (134.5)

Rainfall: 56.9 mm (55.4)

Days rain: 9.4 days (9.3)

September is slightly warmer by 0.3 degC, but other than that the other parameters haven’t changed.


Mean Max: 13.5 degC (13.3)

Mean Min: 6.5 degC (6.3)

Mean: 10.0 degC (9.8)

Air Frosts: 1.2 days (1.6)

Sunshine: 98.9 hrs (102.8)

Rainfall: 63.4 mm (60.9)

Days rain: 11.8 days (11.3)

October has warmed slightly and has become slightly duller, with an extra day of rain on average.


Mean Max: 9.7 degC (9.4)

Mean Min: 3.6 degC (3.4)

Mean: 6.7 degC (6.4)

Air Frosts: 4.6 days (4.8)

Sunshine: 64.6 hrs (66.4)

Rainfall: 73.0 mm (72.0)

Days rain: 12.0 days (12.3)

November has followed with 0.3 degC of warming. Nothing else has changed that much, with similar rainfall and sunshine totals.


Mean Max: 7.1 degC (6.7)

Mean Min: 1.4 degC (1.1)

Mean: 4.3 degC (3.9)

Air Frosts: 10.4 days (11.0)

Sunshine: 57.6 hrs (51.2)

Rainfall: 61.0 mm (57.0)

Days rain: 12.0 days (11.7)

December is now 0.4 degC warmer than in the 1981-2010 period, and is also sunnier, as well as being slightly wetter.


Mean Max: 13.2 degC (12.9)

Mean Min: 5.7 degC (5.4)

Mean: 9.5 degC (9.2)

Air Frosts: 46.8 days (51.5)

Sunshine: 1480.0 hrs (1445.4)

Rainfall: 675.7 mm (651.1)

Days rain: 124.1 days (122.0)

Overall, the year in Durham is now 0.3 degC warmer, with air frosts reducing by nearly 5 days on average. Durham has received 35 hrs more sunshine in the 1991-2020 period, but with 24.6 mm more rain as well.

When compared to the 1961-1990 averages, Durham has warmed by nearly a whole degree celsius, has 9 days less air frost, has nearly 150 hrs of extra sunshine and has 25mm less rain in the average year.

Source :

Durham Weather Summary in 2019 – Wet and Warm

The Weather of 2019 in Durham was quite noteworthy, particularly because there were some very warm temperatures and also the second half of 2019 was very wet.

Some very mild temperatures in February

Once again, the winter was on the mild side, especially in February when the 20 degC mark was breached in the UK for the first time. In Durham, the maximum was 17.1 degC and we were lucky enough to spend the time it occurred in York, sitting by the river in T-shirts as if it were a Summer’s day.

Warm Easter weekend

Easter was in April and once again the Bank Holiday was blessed with great weather. Unbroken sunshine over the weekend made it a very memorable holiday. Once again we were away from home, up on the East Coast at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. The kite festival was on and we came back with a suntan (in April!).

July had record heat

The summer featured some very warm temperatures, peaking in July when the UK record was broken at Cambridge Botanical Garden. The temperature of 38.7 degC beat the old record by 0.2 degC. In Durham, I recorded 33.7 degC, which compared to the 32.9 degC at the official station at Durham University Observatory on Potter’s Bank.

Very wet in the second half of the year

The biggest feature of the second half of the year was it’s intense wetness. From June until November, rainfall was well above average. The wettest month was June itself (129.7mm), closely followed by November (129.3mm). Durham got away without any major flooding, but other parts of the country weren’t so lucky, with a dam close to collapse in Derbyshire and serious flooding in Sheffield later.

The overall rainfall total for the year was 806.1mm, which is about 150mm above normal for a year in Durham. The wettest day was 8th June with 31.8mm, but there were 25 days with more than a 10mm fall, which is high.


2017 Yearly Weather Summary for Durham

2017 was the 10th warmest year on record at Durham since 1850, only marginally cooler than 1990 which had a memorably warm summer. The mean maximum air temperature was the 20th warmest on record (since 1900) and the mean minimum air temperature was the 3rd warmest on record, beaten only by 2004 and 2014. The overall warmth of 2017 was therefore more due to warm nights than warm days. Even so, there were 82 ground frosts, a higher number than in the previous three years, although still the 11th lowest total on record (since 1954). Rainfall was just a little above average but not greatly so, only the 70th wettest in 168 years. Total sunshine hours were again below average, the 29th lowest annual total since 1882.

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2016 Yearly Weather Summary in Durham

2016 was the 17th warmest year (9.4°C) at Durham since 1850, 0.1°C warmer than last year. Of the 16 warmer years, nine have been since 2000; in a stationary series, only two would be expected. Only two months fell below the 1961 – 1990 average temperature: April and November. Whilst the decadal running mean for annual temperature has fallen slightly from a peak in 2002 (9.7°C), it remains higher than at any stage before 1998. As a result the number of ground frosts was well below average, the 3rd equal lowest total since 1931 (beaten only in 2000 and 2014). The annual rainfall total (698.9mm) was 49.9mm above average but this is not an exceptional total, ranking 58th highest in 168 years. It was a dull year (1160.2 hours), only 89% of the normal amount of sunshine, the 10th least sunny year since 1882.

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

2015 Yearly Weather Summary in Durham

For the year as a whole, three months fell below the 1961-1990 Durham average temperature (June, July, September) so, despite a warm end to the year, the overall average (9.3°C) was well down on last year. Whilst well above the 1961-1990 average, it is only just above the average for the last 30 years. 2015 was the 37th wettest year on record at Durham, a dry first half to the year and a wet second half. Five of the last ten years have been wetter. Sunshine hours were once again below average, for the fourth year in a row. There was, like 2014, a low number of ground frosts (72) and, despite the high rainfall total, a relatively low number of rain days (167). This reflects the tendency for mean rainfall intensity gradually to have increased since the 1890s and particularly since the 1960s (Burt et al., 2015).

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University