2011 was second warmest year on record

This year has been the second warmest on record for the UK, despite the disappointingly cool summer.

The Met Office said provisional figures show only 2006, with an average temperature of 49.5F (9.73C) was warmer than 2011’s average temperature of 49.3F (9.62C).

Despite this year seeing high temperatures for long periods – including the warmest April and spring on record – early figures suggest we are ending 2011 with a “close to average” December.

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John Prior, national climate manager at the Met Office, said: “While it may have felt mild for many so far this December, temperatures overall have been close to what we would expect.

“It may be that the stark change from last year, which was the coldest December on record for the UK, has led many to think it has been unseasonably warm.”

All bar one of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997 and all the UK’s top seven warmest years happened in the last decade.

The warmest temperature recorded this year – 91.5F (33.1C) on June 27 at Gravesend in Kent – was the warmest temperature recorded in the UK for five years.

But this was one of just a few hot days in a rather cool summer which was book-ended by the warm spring and autumn.

Apart from January, the only other months with below-average temperatures were June, July and August.

Gravesend saw the warmest October temperature ever, when 85.8F (29.9C) was recorded on October 1, beating the record of 84.9F (29.4C) at March in Cambridgeshire on the same day in 1985.

The warm autumn seemed to have a marked impact on flora and fauna – an abundance of holly, mistletoe and other berries such as hawthorn this autumn and early winter, far from being a predictor of cold and snow, has been a reaction to the warm spring when the trees could produce more blossom. In December, daffodils bloomed in sheltered areas.

Coldest temperature was 8.6F (minus 13C) at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands on January 8.

Scotland had its wettest year on record with 73.2in ( ) of rain, beating the previous record set in 1990, but parts of England had very low rainfall.