'Near average' January masks extremes

Tuesday 5 February 2013, 15:24

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

Temperatures overall in January were just 0.4C below the UK mean of 3.7C according to the Met Office, based on data which started in 1910.


But this is one example of how statistics can hide extremes and give a misleading impression of one month’s weather.


The first ten days were often mild, with temperatures reaching double figures, as was the last week, when double figure temperatures returned for a time.


But sandwiched in the middle was a cold spell which lasted around two weeks, and which gave the heaviest snowfall since December 2010.


That said, it’s the monthly average that climatologists will look back at in time, and from that perspective January 2013 very much a middle ranked month in the 103 year Met Office data set.


From a UK point of view, to illustrate how unremarkable it was, January came in 52nd coldest.


And according to Philip Eden writing in the Sunday Telegraph, in the last 100 years, based on the Central England Temperature (CET) data set, 40 Januarys were colder, 54 warmer, with 6 the same.


In fact the CET temperature ended up at 3.8C (38.8F), just 1 deg F below the long term average.


It shows just how incorrect some of the tabloid headlines continue to be, fuelled by a small number of private weather outfits, some of whom talked of January being one of the coldest on record.


Early February has seen a return to unsettled, cold weather, although the air is not as cold as it was mid-January.


With little expected to change at least until early next week, the UK will continue to be at risk of further wintry weather.  

Follow me on twitter @Hudsonweather


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I take it we are in the midst of an blog "update"?

    This post dated "Thursday 2 May 2013, 15:24"?

    Any mods know what is going on, if so it would be nice and polite to receive an explanation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I thought the Met Office are supposed to forecast ? Talking about what's passed is fine , recently though , all we've had on offer is ever changing live updates !

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Looks like gremlins are at work . . the header currently showing as:

    "'Near average' January masks extremes
    Thursday 2 May 2013, 15:24"

    Back from the future or what . . . No wonder Paul's forecasts enjoy an unenviable accuracy !

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    UAH for January out and +0.51C, second warmest January on their record. Spencer suspects it's the result of lowered SSTs, as some have been commenting on recently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Now we have ratings for comments and can sort by highest or lowest rated, that should prove interesting as most comments will be a reply to another comment, or is this what we are trying to stop!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Just order things by 'oldest first' and things should be OK.

    UAH higher than I though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    newdwr54 . . that's odd. Probably similar to many here, I was expecting perhaps a small drop - this large jump seems to have come out of nowhere. Judging by his tone, even Spencer finds it most unexpected.
    Interesting to see what the others come in at.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I see Roy Spencer has issued his global temperature for January
    +0.51 Wow! That sets the trend for 2013

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    heat sinks can only go on for so long . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    A comment rating system? Well I for one promise never to use it regardless of the temptation. You just have to look at the comments on the Daily Fails web site to see how divisive it can be.

    I'm also surprised that Jan was pretty average. Going by the media headlines and the snow I would have expected it to be colder than average. Globally it looks to be +0.51 deg. C according to Roy Spencer, So no sign of the global cooling that some have been predicting for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Nobody wants to talk about the January 2013 UAH figure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Re 11>

    Just getting used to this new set up. For some reason when I logged in I was sent back to comment 5. At that stage no one had mentioned the UAH Jan 2013 figure.

    I now see (after refreshing the page) that some have mentioned it. Apologies.

    I guess we'll have to get used to the new set up. Change is life's only constant, and all that...

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    10. Lazarus wrote:

    " I for one promise never to use [the comment rating system] regardless of the temptation"

    I must admit, I almost rated this positive. Then I got grip on myself.

    I feel the same. I will not be rating anyone's comments either positive or negative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I see that the UAH update has not yet made the venerable pages of Watts Up With That?

    I suspect that when/if it does, it will quickly be swamped by important matters such as polar bear population studies, the activities of the perfidious John Cook, and agonising over solar cycle perturbations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    @14 newdwr54

    I love the UAH posts on WUWT. Always at least one person to say it's wrong and insinuate that spencer is a warmist!

    As for John Cook.... I think he is a great fisherman!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    15. john_cogger


    I've just realised that our comments are being divided into five per page, which explains why I thought there'd only been five comments in total since I logged on. We need to click the 'show more' button to get the rest in.

    Re the rest: yes, it will be informative to see how Watts copes with this latest UAH bombshell. I predict, as I said above, that it if it appears at all it will quickly get buried. Expect a few low-traffic stories on the effects of climate change on Indonesian mice, etc.

    And Cook: he's doing a good job, by and large.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    1 Hour ago

    "Nobody wants to talk about the January 2013 UAH figure?"

    Eh up DW, not sure how this new fangled thing works yet, tried "link to this" but just seemed to do nowt.

    Jan UAH rise unexpected as was the Dec 12 fall. Will be very interested in the detailed data when it is posted, land/ocean.

    Not in control of my time at present, family in chaos due to forecast arrival of No2 grandchild tomorrow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Best of luck with No. 2.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    #11 newdwr54

    It's as though the atmosphere has gone El Nino without the oceans, it will be interesting to see where the heat has come from.

    #17 greensand

    Good luck.
    Seems as though all the HTML formatting has been removed, ah well!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Paul's on the ball tonight, 2 blogs in one day with an update on the UAH temperature. I bet Roy Spencer didn't enjoy updating his website!


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