For the UK as a whole, temperature and rainfall for December were near-average, but there were marked spatial contrasts and a wide range of weather conditions throughout the month. Westerly airflows brought strong winds and some heavy rain and snow falls, resulting in a wet December for the north-west, while in southern and eastern areas it was generally dry with sunshine well-above average.

The assessment is contained in the latest monthly hydrological summary for the UK, the most authoritative analysis of water resources status in the country. The monthly summaries are produced by the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, operated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in conjunction with the British Geological Survey.

UK river flows January to December 2014

With mild airflows from the Atlantic, temperatures were often high for the time of year, but there were cold spells early in the month and during an anticyclonic episode in the last week, which brought the lowest minimum daily temperatures for 2014.

Summary author, Jamie Hannaford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “While there were spates mid-month, river flows were fairly typical for December and groundwater levels were also mostly in the normal range or above, with recharge well established at most sites. Reservoir stocks were moderately above average at the national scale, with stocks reduced in a few impoundments due to drawdown for management purposes.”

Looking back, 2014 was exceptional in terms of annual averages. December was the 11th warmer-than-average month in 2014 (only August was below average), contributing to 2014 being the warmest year for the UK in a record from 1910 and, provisionally, in the Central England Temperature series from 1659. It was also the fourth wettest year (since 1910) for the UK; seven out of the ten wettest years have occurred since 1998. The notable annual rainfall total, and corresponding record annual runoff in some regions, reflects a disproportionate contribution from the exceptionally wet start to the year.

Jamie Hannaford added, “The year 2015 thus commences from a near-normal baseline, with a favourable water resources situation.”

The monthly summary is a look back at hydrological events occurring in December 2014. Latest information on flood warnings is provided by the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (flood warnings for Northern Ireland are not available).

A PDF of the full 12-page December 2014 summary can be downloaded here.

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology jointly operates the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (for the UK) in conjunction with the British Geological Survey. NHMP scientists produce the UK Monthly Hydrological Summary which assesses rainfall, river flows, groundwater and reservoir levels. They also operate the UK’s National River Flow archive. The NHMP also has a remit to analyse major flood and drought events in the UK and analyse long term trends in UK hydrological data. The UK Monthly Hydrological Summary is published on, or before, the tenth working day, of the following month. A Hydrological Outlook for the UK is also available and is updated monthly.

Additional information

Read the full December 2014 Hydrological Summary for the UK [PDF, 1.84mb]

Hydrological summary archive - dating back to December 1988

Details of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme

Latest Hydrological Outlook for the UK

National River Flow Archive

Media enquiries related to the Hydrological Summaries should be directed to the CEH Press Office. Our scientists can provide explanation and analysis of historic hydrological patterns, possible future scenarios under climate change and scientific understanding of the current situation. We are not able to comment on immediate operational issues.

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Key for river flows graphic:

Key for river flow graphic January 2014 hydrological summary for the UK

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