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
Mean Temp : 3.8 degC.
Warmest : 6.8 degC in 1916.
Coldest : -2.1 degC in 1881.
Abs Max Temp : 16.7 degC on 9th, 1888.
Absolute Min Temp : -17.2 degC on 17th, 1888.
Mean Rainfall : 48 mm.
Wettest : 188 mm in 1948.
Driest : 7 mm in 1855.
Mean Temp : 4.1 degC.
Warmest : 7.6 degC in 1998.
Coldest : -2.2 degC in 1855.
Abs Max Temp : 17.4 degC on 28th 2012
Absolute Min Temp : -18.3 degC on 8th, 1895 *.
Mean Rainfall : 42 mm.
Wettest : 153 mm in 1941.
Driest : 2 mm in 1891.
* This is the coldest temperature for any month recorded locally since 1847.
Mean Temp : 5.9 degC.
Warmest : 9.4 degC in 1938.
Coldest : 1.6 degC in 1883.
Abs Max Temp : 21.7 degC in 1929 (twice), 1953 and 1965.
Absolute Min Temp : -15.0 degC on 4th 1947.
Mean Rainfall : 51 mm.
Wettest : 166 mm in 1979.
Driest : 1 mm in 1953.
Mean Temp : 7.8 degC.
Warmest : 11.2 degC in 2011.
Coldest : 4.3 degC in 1922.
Abs Max Temp : 24.1 degC on 16th, 2003.
Abs Min Temp : -11.1 on 2nd, 1917.
Mean Rainfall : 48 mm
Wettest : 153 mm in 1877
Driest : 2 mm in 1938.
Mean Temp : 10.6 degC.
Warmest : 12.7 degC in 2017 and 2018.
Coldest : 7.1 degC in 1869.
Abs Max Temp : 27.8 degC on 31st, 1922.
Abs Min Temp : -4.4 degC on 5th, 1855.
Mean Rainfall : 52 mm.
Wettest : 154 mm in 1924.
Driest : 8 mm in 1989.
Mean Temp : 13.3 degC,
Warmest : 15.8 degC in 1940
Coldest : 10.7 degC in 1916 and 1927
Abs Max Temp : 30.6 degC on 10th, 1925.
Abs Min Temp : -1.1 degC on 2nd 1852 and 15th 1927.
Mean Rainfall : 52 mm.
Wettest : 191 mm in 1980.
Driest : 2 mm in 1925.
Mean Temp : 15.6 degC
Warmest : 18.3 degC in 2006
Coldest : 12.6 degC in 1922 and 1965
Abs Max Temp : 33.6 degC on 16th, 1876. *
Abs Min Temp : 1.1 degC on 1st 1929.
Mean Rainfall : 52 mm.
Wettest : 210 mm in 1888.
Driest : 8 mm in 1935.
* This is the highest temperature for any month recorded locally since 1850. The 32.9 degC from 25th July 2019 is more reliable.
Mean Temp : 15.4 degC
Warmest : 17.6 degC in 1975
Coldest : 11.8 degC in 1912
Abs Max Temp : 32.5 degC on 3rd August 1990
Abs Min Temp : 0.6 degC on 22nd August 1850 and 22nd August 1864
Mean Rainfall : 61mm
Wettest : 176mm in 1956
Driest : 6mm in 1959
Mean Temp : 13.1 degC
Warmest : 15.9 degC in 2006
Coldest : 10.2 degC in 1912
Abs Max Temp : 30.0 degC on 1st September 1906
Abs Min Temp : -1.1 degC on 7th September 1855, 4th September 1907 and 29th September 1932
Mean Rainfall : 58mm
Wettest : 193mm in 1976
Driest : 6.3mm in 1907
Mean Temp : 9.8 degC
Warmest : 12.8 degC in Oct 2001
Coldest : 6.1 degC in Oct 1896
Abs Max Temp : 25.0 degC on 4th Oct 1908
Abs Min Temp : -5.5 degC on 25th Oct 1926
Mean Rainfall : 57mm
Wettest : 202 mm in Oct 1903
Driest : 10 mm in Oct 1969
Mean Temp : 6.4 degC
Warmest : 8.7 degC in 2011.
Coldest : 2.5 degC in 1910, 1919 and 1925.
Abs Max Temp : 19.4 degC on 2nd, 1927.
Abs Min Temp : -8.8 degC on 30th, 1850 and 16th, 1919.
Mean Rainfall : 57 mm,
Wettest : 188 mm in 1878
Driest : 12 mm in 1958
Mean Temp : 3.9 degC,
Warmest : 7.8 degC in 2015.
Coldest : -0.9 degC in 1878.
Abs Max Temp : 15.9 degC on 19th, 2015.
Abs Min Temp : -16.6 degC on 25th, 1860.
Mean Rainfall : 62 mm.
Wettest : 258 mm in 1876.
Driest : 13 mm in 1905.
Further Reading :weather station