UK sees warmest May – and spring – on record, Met Office figures show

Despite dull, wet conditions for many, last month was the warmest in records dating back to 1884, the provisional data shows.

It has been the warmest May on record for the UK, according to the Met Office
It has been the warmest May on record for the UK, according to the Met Office (Danny Lawson/PA)

The UK had its warmest May and spring on record, despite the wet, dull conditions for many parts of the country, provisional Met Office figures show.

May 2024 recorded an average temperature of 13.1C for the UK, beating the previous record in 2008 by a full 1C, making it the warmest May in records dating back to 1884.

The Met Office said the month’s high average temperatures were influenced particularly by warm conditions in the northern half of the UK, and by high overnight temperatures.

Meteorological spring, which covers the months of March, April and May, was also the warmest on record, the figures show.

Across the three months of meteorological spring, March, April and May, the average mean temperature for the UK was 9.37C, beating the previous record of 9.12C set in 2017, with the warm conditions influenced by high overnight temperatures.

Eight of the top 10 warmest springs have now occurred this century, including all of the top five.

The Met Office said the UK’s climate is changing, with recent decades warmer, wetter and sunnier than the 20th century, while natural variation also plays a part in the country’s weather.

(PA Graphics/Press Association Images)

The record warmth for the UK comes as the world has experienced a streak of record temperatures, continuing for 11 months in a row up to April 2024, which was the hottest ever recorded, data released last month showed.

Climate change caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests which pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is pushing up temperatures around the world, and causing more extreme weather such as droughts, heatwaves and intense rainfall.

For the UK in May, Scotland was particularly warm, with a mean temperature of 12.3C, beating 2018’s previous record by 1.6C.

England and Northern Ireland also saw a new record for average temperatures for the month of May, while Wales equalled its highest figure from 2008.

The UK had its wettest spring since 1986 and the sixth wettest on record, the Met Office added.

An average 301.7mm of rain fell on the country across March, April and May, nearly a third (32%) more than usual for the season.

(PA Graphics/Press Association Images)

The wettest spring on record was in 1979, when the UK experienced an average 327.0mm of rain.

The sun was in short supply in May too, with the UK seeing 17% fewer hours of sunshine than average, and with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all having below average sunshine hours.

A Met Office spokesperson said: “While it may not have felt like it for many, with sunshine in relatively short supply, provisional figures show May was the warmest on record in our series back to 1884.

“This warmth was especially influenced by high overnight temperatures, with the average UK minimum temperature for May 1.2C higher than the previous record.

“Rainfall was above average for the UK, while some areas in the south saw over a third more rain than average.

“In contrast, Northern Ireland and Scotland were slightly drier than average in the month.”