A sunny February (fig 1) ended what was a sunnier than average winter across the UK. I noticed the second sunniest February in the UK as it unfolded, but the second sunniest winter caught me out.
February was the second sunniest since 1929, and the sunniest in the UK since 2008 with 136.8% of the 1981-2010 long-term average. The sunniest regions were generally further west, with parts of Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and south Wales receiving over 170% of the long-term average. February’s are over 10 hours sunnier than they were back in 1929 (fig 2).
Winter sunshine for December, January and February was 122.8% above the long-term average, and was the second sunniest winter since 1929, the furthest that the Met Office can currently be bothered to take the series back to, even if extensive sunshine records exist well back into the Victorian era, thanks to the Campbell–Stokes sunshine recorder, which was invented in 1853. Winters are now over 20 hours sunnier that they were in the age of the Charleston in the UK (fig 3).
The contrast between some of the sunniest areas and the duller spots in western Scotland and Snowdonia is quite striking (fig 4).