Durham Climate and Weather
The weather and climate of Durham in North East England is heavily influenced by The North Sea, which keeps us relatively warm in winter and cooler in summer. Lying to the east of the Pennines, Durham lies within the rain shadow, and normal yearly totals of rain are in the region of 650 mm. Typical annual extremes of temperature are -6 degC to 27 degC. The area is also sheltered from the worst of the winter weather and gales, although conditions can sometimes be very gusty in the lee of the Pennines as winds race down the Eastern slopes.
The spring is generally the driest season in Durham, and the weather can be quite pleasant, but sometimes there is a tendancy for Easterly winds to set in, making it feel rather raw as the North Sea is at it’s coolest at around 8 degC. There is also a tendancy for the East coast to be shrouded in mist in late spring/early summer, making us jealous when the rest of the country is basking in good weather with sweltering temperatures, but the ‘haar’ as it is called is really only a problem in very early summer, with Durham tending to be at the western limit of the sea breeze.
Very often the sunniest weather is in late-May/early June. June can be really hot too, but also very wet! By July and August we can expect temperatures to rise to between 25 and 28 degC on it’s warmest day, although anything higher than that is very rare, indeed 30 degC has only been breached on about 30 days in nearly 170 years in Durham. However 2019 saw the temperature rise to 32.9 degC and it exceded 30 degC again in 2020.
In recent times, autumn has been very mild here, with September usually as warm as June. We can experience temps up to 25 degC typically, with no real danger of frost until October. However, the autumn is a lot wetter than the spring, with the wettest month having almost double the rainfall on average, but this still amounts to no more than around 70mm in a typical year.
The highest temperature ever recorded in County Durham was on 1st September 1906 when a value of 33.9 degC was reached at Ushaw, just west of Durham.
Winter hadn’t been really cruel to us for a while, with December becoming an extension of November, typically with more worries about gales than snow. The only two real ‘winter’ months being January and February, but in more recent times, snow and low temperatures have returned, with the Decembers of 2010 and 2011 reminding us that we can still get very severe conditions here, when synoptics are favourable, with lots of snow and ice.
Once again, if an easterly sets in during the winter months, we know about it here! It can result in a good dumping of snow from instability showers courtesy of the North Sea, up to a foot is quite possible, and days can be dull and dark. This proved to be the case in winter 2009-10 and again in the following winter, when snow remained on the ground for more than a month in places.
Weather Extremes in Durham City
The warmest month in Durham was July 2006 (18.3 degC) and the coldest was February 1855 (-2.2 degC). The wettest month remains December 1876 with 258mm and March 1953 had barely a trace of rain (1mm).
The highest temperature recorded in Durham is the 33.6 degC from 16th July 1876, and the coldest was -18.3 degC on 8th February 1895.
Durham Weather Averages (1981-2010)
Durham Weather Extremes since 1850
Means here are based on the 1991-2020 averages
Mean Temp : 4.1 degC.
Warmest : 6.7 degC in 1916.
Coldest : -1.7 degC in 1881.
Abs Max Temp : 16.1 degC on 9th Jan, 1888.
Absolute Min Temp : -16.9 degC on 17th Jan, 1881.
Mean Rainfall : 53 mm.
Wettest : 188.0 mm in 1948.
Driest : 7.2 mm in 1989.
Wettest Day : 32.8 mm on 12th Jan, 1921.
Mean Temp : 4.6 degC.
Warmest : 7.6 degC in 1998.
Coldest : -2.2 degC in 1855.
Abs Max Temp : 17.4 degC on 28th Feb, 2012
Absolute Min Temp : -18.0 degC on 8th Feb, 1895 *.
Mean Rainfall : 45.3 mm.
Wettest : 152.5 mm in 1941.
Driest : 2.1 mm in 1891.
Wettest Day : 50.0 mm on 19th Feb, 1941.
* This is the coldest temperature for any month recorded locally since 1847.
Mean Temp : 6.2 degC.
Warmest : 9.3 degC in 1938.
Coldest : 1.7 degC in 1883.
Abs Max Temp : 21.8 degC on 28th Mar, 2012.
Absolute Min Temp : -15.0 degC on 4th Mar, 1947.
Mean Rainfall : 41.3 mm.
Wettest : 166.0 mm in 1979.
Driest : 1.3 mm in 1953.
Wettest Day : 50.6 mm on 28th Mar, 1979
Mean Temp : 8.3 degC.
Warmest : 11.2 degC in 2011.
Coldest : 4.4 degC in 1917.
Abs Max Temp : 24.1 degC on 16th Apr, 2003.
Abs Min Temp : -11.1 on 2nd Apr, 1917.
Mean Rainfall : 51.2 mm
Wettest : 151 mm in 1998
Driest : 2.2 mm in 1938.
Wettest Day : 43.0 mm on 1st Apr, 1992.
Mean Temp : 11.0 degC.
Warmest : 13.4 degC in 2004.
Coldest : 7.3 degC in 1869, 1877 and 1902.
Abs Max Temp : 29.0 degC on 23rd May, 2001.
Abs Min Temp : -4.8 degC on 14th May, 1891.
Mean Rainfall : 44.5 mm.
Wettest : 154.0 mm in 1924.
Driest : 7.7 mm in 1989.
Wettest Day : 70.2 mm on 31st May, 1924
Mean Temp : 13.6 degC,
Warmest : 17.5 degC in 1846
Coldest : 10.7 degC in 1888 and 1916
Abs Max Temp : 30.4 degC on 10th Jun, 1925.
Abs Min Temp : -0.8 degC on 15th Jun, 1927.
Mean Rainfall : 61.2 mm.
Wettest : 191.4 mm in 1980.
Driest : 1.7 mm in 1925.
Wettest Day : 54.0 mm on 3rd Jun, 2000
Mean Temp : 15.8 degC
Warmest : 18.3 degC in 2006.
Coldest : 12.1 degC in 1888.
Abs Max Temp : 32.9 degC on 25th Jul, 2019.
Abs Min Temp : 1.4 degC on 1st Jul, 1929.
Mean Rainfall : 62.0 mm.
Wettest : 209.7 mm in 1888.
Driest : 3.6 mm in 1878.
Wettest Day : 61.4 mm on 8th Jul, 1893
Mean Temp : 15.6 degC
Warmest : 17.6 degC in 1975.
Coldest : 11.7 degC in 1912.
Abs Max Temp : 32.5 degC on 3rd Aug, 1990.
Abs Min Temp : 0.5 degC on 22nd Aug, 1864.
Mean Rainfall : 66.2 mm
Wettest : 175.7 mm in 1956.
Driest : 6.4 mm in 1959.
Wettest Day : 69.1 mm on 25th Aug, 1986.
Mean Temp : 13.3 degC
Warmest : 15.9 degC in 2006.
Coldest : 10.2 degC in 1912.
Abs Max Temp : 30.0 degC on 1st Sep, 1906.
Abs Min Temp : -1.7 degC on 27th Sep, 1954.
Mean Rainfall : 56.8 mm.
Wettest : 193.2 mm in 1976.
Driest : 6.3mm in 1907.
Wettest Day : 87.8 mm on 11th Sep, 1976.
Mean Temp : 10.0 degC
Warmest : 12.7 degC in 2001.
Coldest : 6.1 degC in 1896.
Abs Max Temp : 25.3 degC on 1st Oct, 2011.
Abs Min Temp : -5.3 degC on 25th Oct, 1926.
Mean Rainfall : 63.7 mm
Wettest : 201.8 mm in 1903.
Driest : 9.6 mm in 1969.
Wettest Day : 63.7 mm on 8th Oct, 1903.
Mean Temp : 6.6 degC
Warmest : 8.7 degC in 2011.
Coldest : 2.4 degC in 1919.
Abs Max Temp : 19.3 degC on 2nd Nov, 1927.
Abs Min Temp : -12.0 degC on 24th Nov, 1993.
Mean Rainfall : 73.4 mm.
Wettest : 186.1 mm in 1965.
Driest : 12.2 mm in 1958.
Wettest Day : 72.8 mm on 12th Nov, 1901
Mean Temp : 4.2 degC.
Warmest : 7.9 degC in 2015.
Coldest : -0.7 degC in 1878.
Abs Max Temp : 15.9 degC on 19th Dec, 2015.
Abs Min Temp : -16.4 degC on 25th Dec, 1860.
Mean Rainfall : 61.2 mm.
Wettest : 195.5 mm in 1978.
Driest : 9.3 mm in 1873.
Wettest Day : 37.4 mm on 16th Dec, 1872
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