England had its driest February in 30 years according to provisional figures from the Met Office, as meteorological winter concluded with a dry and mild month for most.
Rainfall was in short supply in February, with high pressure dominating much of the month and no UK nation reaching its long-term average rainfall for February.
England had its eighth driest February in a series which goes back to 1836, and its driest since 1993, with on average just 15.3mm of rain falling in the month.
Areas to the south and east were particularly dry, with Bedfordshire, Greater London and Essex all recording figures to put the month in their respective top five driest Februarys on record. At a county level, Essex had the least amount of rainfall with 3.5mm falling in the month, just 8% of its average.
That dry theme was replicated across the majority of the UK with Wales and Northern Ireland seeing significantly less rainfall than average. Wales had 26.2mm of rain (22% of average) and Northern Ireland 31.3mm (34% of average). Scotland was still dry, though not to the same extent as further south with 97mm of rain (69% of average).
This means the UK saw less than half of its average rainfall for the month, with 43.4mm falling, just 45% of average.
Dr Mark McCarthy of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre said: “The second half of January was largely dry and that theme continued through February with high pressure centred over the UK for much of the month, helping to repel advancing fronts and keep low pressure systems away, and resulting in a notable long winter dry spell.
“That high pressure has principally, but not exclusively, been focused around the southern half of the UK, meaning southern England has been particularly dry, with just 9.7mm of rain falling here, which is just 16% of its average.”
Environment Agency Executive Director and National Drought Group chair John Leyland said: “While most water levels have returned to normal across much of the country, low rainfall in recent weeks highlights the importance of remaining vigilant.
“We cannot rely on the weather alone, which is why the Environment Agency, water companies and our partners are taking action to ensure water resources are in the best possible position both for the summer and for future droughts.
“As ever, it is important that we all continue to use water carefully to protect not just our water resources; but our precious environment and the wildlife that depends on it.”