After a month of almost unceasing sunshine, the Met Office has confirmed that May was the sunniest calendar month ever recorded for the UK.
Before this year, the highest number of hours of bright sunshine recorded in England occurred in 1948, with 555 hours in 1948, but May has set a new record of 626 hours; a whopping increase of over 70 hours.
Records relating to weather conditions like this have been maintained since 1929 and in that time only three summers have seen more sunshine than the spring of 2020: the summers of 1976, 1989 and 1995. Whether we were looking at it from behind closed doors or lucky enough to spend time in a garden, the sunshine has been a welcome sight to everyone during the difficult UK lockdown period.
Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said: “The most remarkable aspect is just how much some of the May and Spring records for these climate statistics have been exceeded. Exceeding the UK sunshine record is one thing, but exceeding by over 70 hours is truly exceptional.
“The sunshine figures for spring would even be extremely unusual for summer and only three summers would beat Spring 2020 for sunshine hours.”
He explained that the extended sunshine during May was the result of a long period of high pressure centred over, or near to, the UK, preventing clouds and rain from developing.
The unexpected warm weather has been welcome but Water UK have warned that even with the temperatures beginning to drop again in the days ahead, the lack of rainfall means everyone should be mindful about wasting water. Chief Executive of Water UK, Christine McGourty, said: These are exceptional times and the record-breaking dry weather is a powerful reminder of what a precious, natural resource our water is. With so many people at home and enjoying their gardens, water companies are seeing record demand for water, which can cause issues with water pressure. Working together, we can all make a difference right now, so let’s use water wisely. We need to keep washing our hands, but make other small changes to our water use, for example cutting back on paddling pools and sprinklers, particularly at the peak times in the evening.”