Parts of Scotland see warmest May on record despite heavy downpours

Warmer nights in May meant that the overall average temperature for the month was higher than normal.

It may not have felt like it, but for most parts of the country we’ve just had our warmest May on record.

These sort of headlines are often met with scepticism, and I don’t blame you, because May was hardly a bumper month of endless hot, sunny days. But what’s happening more often is our nights are tending to be warmer which helps to pull up the overall average temperature – obviously not as noticeable to us.

This is a sign of climate change as temperatures continue to rise with some of our most significant warming trends in overnight temperatures – you only have to look at winter and the dramatic drop in the number of nights with frost.

Kinloss, Lossiemouth, Kirkwall and Tulloch Bridge all recorded their warmest May night on record. Only Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire recorded its warmest May day with temperatures peaking at 25.4C on May 11, beating its previous record from 2017 by just 0.1C.

Stornoway recorded its warmest May on record too – very significant here given the fact records go back 150 years.

The top temperature for May was 25.7C recorded on May 11 at Cassley in the north Highlands. The warmest night was at Achnagart, also in the north Highlands, where it stayed above 17C all night on 11-12 May.

Many more stations broke records for their wettest day in May, no surprise given the massive deluges we’ve seen at times in the last four weeks in the east of the country. The Botanics in Edinburgh recorded 59mm of rain on May 23 – massively beating its previous record of 35mm in 1941. Nearby Nunraw Abbey in East Lothian recorded an incredible 101mm of rain on the previous day which again blew the previous record out of the water – 69mm recorded back in May 1983.

Overall the Botanics was the wettest place to be during May, probably not a bad thing for the plants, but not great for the opening of our tourist season. The gardens had a whopping 171mm of rain for the whole month which is over three and a half times what we normally get for the month. In other words that’s the equivalent of 14 week’s worth of rain for May.

In contrast Kirkwall only had 25mm for the whole month which is less than half the usual.

Everywhere, apart from Shetland, had less sunshine than usual for May. Lerwick recorded a total of 194 hours of sunshine, which is pretty much bang on what we should get here. That works out at just over six hours of bright sunshine each day of the month – not too bad. The sunniest day was May 16 with nearly 17 hours of blue skies.

June has begun with cool Arctic air poised to pounce this week, holding temperatures by day down a good few degrees on where we should be – around 13C to 15C. We will also have some very cool nights this week with lows close to freezing in some of our Highland glens on Tuesday night.

I expect temperatures will lift towards the weekend and into next week, but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any prolonged spell of summer weather on the cards until at least mid-month. I’m sure many of you will be keeping your fingers crossed that summer is just waiting until the schools go on holiday and there will be weeks of paddling pools and BBQs – wishful thinking!

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