Climate change: UK records warmest Christmas Eve in 20 yrs

The UK has observed its warmest Christmas Eve in over two decades, with temperatures in Heathrow, south-west London, reaching 15.3C on Sunday. This surpassed the average for this time of year, marking the warmest December 24th since 1997. The Met Office’s Liam Eslick noted the exceptional mildness nationwide, with temperatures significantly above the December maximum of 7C. Christmas Day is expected to be damp, breezy, and unusually warm, reaching up to 12 or 13C in southern England.

Despite hopes for a white Christmas, most areas in the UK are unlikely to see snow, except for high ground in Scotland. The forecast suggests a deviation from the record for the warmest Christmas Day (15.6C in 1920, Killerton, Devon), but temperatures will still be 5-6C higher than normal. Yellow wind warnings were issued for Scotland and central/northern England on Christmas Eve, predicting travel disruptions and power cuts. Rain warnings were also in place for Wales due to persistent heavy rain.

Severe weather compounded existing travel chaos in the UK, with the AA warning of extended traffic jams. The Severn Bridge and Humber Bridge were closed due to strong winds. Rail services faced cancellations due to weather and ongoing engineering works, impacting Paddington and King’s Cross stations. Crew shortages affected various train operators. Storm Pia and strikes in France caused Eurostar cancellations.

As people traveled on Christmas Eve, they were cautioned about strong winds, flying debris, and power cuts. While weather warnings were set to expire at midnight, Christmas Day would remain gusty and damp. Met Office’s Liam Eslick mentioned the possibility of a few snowflakes, likely at higher elevations in Scotland. The recommendation for outdoor activities to walk off Christmas Day indulgences was given for Boxing Day when a high-pressure ridge would bring calmer weather with sunny spells in the north and more clouds in the south.

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