The United Kingdom’s climate as a whole can be described as being often unsettled with many types of weather conditions sometimes experienced in a single day. The British climate is heavily influenced by the four seas which surround the island. These seas are - the Atlantic Ocean to the west and north, the North Sea in the east, the English Channel in the south and the Irish Sea in the west. Maritime air brings plenty of moisture and subsequent rainfall to the area all year round. On the other hand, continental winds from Eurasia in the east, the world’s largest land mass, bring dryness to the area causing large temperature variations. Temperatures can range between negative numbers in the winter periods with heavy snowfall to 30ºc during the summer.
Seasons in the United Kingdom
Spring: the period from March to May. Conditions are generally calm, cool and dry as a result of the Atlantic Ocean having lost much of its heat during the autumn and winter seasons. Early in the season, there is a fair probability of snowfall when temperatures are colder. Thunderstorms and heavy showers should be expected towards the end of the season.
Summer: the period between June and August and the warmest months. Rainfall can vary due to thunderstorms which occur more often in southern, eastern and central England being less frequent and severe in the north and west of England. Temperatures are generally higher in the southern and central areas of the UK and at their lowest towards northern regions such as northern England and Scotland. Wales and south-west England experience warm summers but the hottest areas are in the south and south-east of England such as in London.
Autumn: the period from September to November. Weather conditions in the autumn are greatly unsettled with possibility of cool polar winds clashing with warm tropical winds heated throughout the spring and summer seasons. There are more significant levels of condensation and clouds which results in extreme levels of precipitation. Winds can become intense and storms are known to occur more often during this time of year. Temperatures during the autumn season may average between 10ºc and 13ºc. Mountainous areas of Wales, northern England and almost all of Scotland experience dramatically low temperatures which can range from 1ºc to 7ºc.
Winter: the period from December to February. Winter is generally cool, is the wettest month of the year and very windy with temperatures dropping to negative numbers. Rainfall is heavy throughout the season with some possible snowfall. Snowfall is usually expected in higher parts of Wales and northern England and most significantly in the Scottish Highlands and the Pennines where snow can lie for several months. Towards the end of the season, conditions begin to stabilise, temperatures will increase slowly, winds will decrease as will precipitation levels.
Climate in England
England is the region that experiences both the highest and lowest temperatures during the year in comparison to the other regions of the UK. In terms of average overall temperatures, these range between 0º c and 20ºc. England is also the region which experiences longer periods of sunlight during the year with the sunniest month being in July unlike the other regions. It also has fewer days of rainfall as well as totalling less rainfall than in any other area in the UK. The north-east of England is more exposed to the continental polar air mass which brings cold dry air; the south and south-east of England are more exposed to the continental tropical air mass which brings warm dry air (and consequently the warmest summer temperatures) whilst the south-west of England is the most exposed to the maritime tropical air mass which brings warm moist air.
Climate in Scotland
Scotland most definitely experiences the coldest weather conditions of the four regions that comprise the UK. Minimum temperatures occur during the months of January and February reaching average lows of -0.2 ºc. Average maximum temperatures occur during the months of July and August hovering around 15ºc and 16ºc. Scotland is the wettest region of the UK in almost every month, the wettest being the month of January. During 10 months of the year from January to May and August to December, Scotland is also the cloudiest area. The longest periods of sunlight occur during the month of May. The west of Scotland is greatly exposed to the maritime polar air mass which brings cool moist air whereas the east is more exposed to continental polar air mass bringing cold dry air.
Climate in Northern Ireland
Although closely positioned, Northern Ireland is warmer than Scotland throughout the year. Average minimum temperatures occur during January and February dropping to 1ºc. Average maximum temperatures occur during the months of July and August peaking at around 18ºc. Northern Ireland’s rainiest month, much like Scotland is January and its sunniest month is also May. Northern Ireland is mostly exposed to the maritime polar air mass coming in from the Atlantic Ocean which brings cool moist air resulting in mild, wet and windy weather conditions much like that of Wales and western parts of England and Scotland.
Climate in Wales
Similar to Northern Ireland and the western parts of England and Scotland, Wales’ proximity to the Atlantic Ocean signifies a generally mild, wet and windy climate. The average minimum temperature in Wales occurs during the months of January and February reaching a low of 1ºc. January is also Wales’ wettest month too. The highest temperatures average around 19ºc during the month of July. In regards to the longest periods of sunlight, Wales experiences its greatest amount of sunshine hours during the month May.