London, Jan 1: Last December was the coldest in Britain in more than 120 years, say officials.
The benchmark Central England Temperature plunged to an average of -0.6 degrees Celsius over the month, making it the second harshest December since records began in 1659, Daily Mail reported Saturday.
It was beaten only by the -0.8c (30.5f) average for December 1890, weather historian Philip Eden said Friday.
It was also the chilliest individual calendar month since February 1986.
As snow, ice and frost brought chaos to roads, airports and homes, there were 10 nights in December 2010 when the temperature fell below -18 degrees Celsius somewhere in Britain.
Altnaharra in Sutherland, Scotland, experienced the coldest conditions, with the mercury plummeting to -21.1 degrees Celsius early Dec 1.
This bitter end to this year was the result of an unusually large area of high pressure squatting over Greenland – combined with low pressure over Britain.
Normally, westerly winds from the Atlantic keep the British Isles mild during the winter.
But the zone of high pressure in the North Atlantic blocked these winds, allowing a slab of cold Arctic air to flow south over Britain, according to the Mail.
December was, however, drier and sunnier than usual. Rainfall averaged 39.5 mm over England and Wales – less than half the normal amount and the lowest total for December since 1971.
Northern Ireland enjoyed 80 hours of sunshine over the month – more than twice the expected amount. Scotland had 78 percent more sunshine than usual, and England and Wales were 17 percent above the norm.
Despite the milder weather of late, winter is far from over, with weathermen warning of further icy blasts until mid-March. –(IANS)