Sunny end to a wet year

PUBLISHED: 19:36 07 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

COMPARED to the chill of early January, December was a balmy month even though temperatures were below average. Rothamsted in Harpenden found that overall December was a relatively sunny and dry month with below average rainfall and 15 days when at least

COMPARED to the chill of early January, December was a balmy month even though temperatures were below average.

Rothamsted in Harpenden found that overall December was a relatively sunny and dry month with below average rainfall and 15 days when at least 0.2mm was recorded, three of them with at least 5mm. The highest amount of rainfall was 16.1mm on Saturday, December 13.

But sunshine was well above the average for December at 76.3 hours - the average for the month is 48.1mm - with the sunniest days December 6 and 7 which notched up 6.8 hours.

No sun shone at all on five days but the month was still recorded as the fourth sunniest December since sunshine records began in 1890.

Maximum and minimum temperatures were slightly below average with the highest recorded on December 20 at 12.5 degrees C and the lowest at -4.2 degrees C in the early hours of last Tuesday, December 30.

Fifteen air frosts and 21 ground frosts were noted.

In contrast with the last month of the old year, 2008 was found to be the wettest year since 2002 with the total rainfall logged at 881.1mm compared to the average 703.6mm.

It rained on 231 days compared to 226 in 2007 and the wettest day was August 31 with the wettest month last March. The driest month was February and during the 12-month period, only four had below average rainfall.

Despite the apparently gloomy summer, sunshine hours were 98.8 hours above average totalling 1636.5 hours with June the sunniest month with 229 hours.

2008 was also slightly warmer than average in terms of both maximum and minimum temperatures. It follows on from the preceding four years when both sets of temperatures were above average.

The hottest day was July 27 when temperatures reached 27.1 degrees C and the coldest night was in February when temperatures dropped to -5.1 degrees C. Throughout the year there were 112 ground frosts compared to 70 in 2007.

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