Towns in Scotland, England, Wales Endure Coldest May Night’s in 20-40 Years But Northern Ireland Takes The Prize!

Written by on May 14, 2020 in Rest of Europe, United Kingdom & Ireland with 0 Comments

It’s been quite the May for cold throughout the British Isles and Ireland thanks to dry arctic or subarctic air trapped within a dominant blocking high over ground starved of rain.

Cloudless skies have been common place in recent weeks as seen in the below visible satellite image.

Credit: NASA

While April as well as May has witnessed big overnight drops in temperature, the more unusual levels of cold have come during the first 2 weeks of May. Kinbrace, Sutherland kicked things off when it observed a minimum of -6.6C. That reading turned out to be the UK’s coldest May night in 1997.

Before May 2020, 2012 received a low of -6.2C at Saughall, Ayrshire and previous to this was -6.3C set in 2005 at Kinbrace.

Coldest in 20-30 years for Lanarkshire and Western Isles.

While Scotland’s night’s moderated due to increased cloud and breeze, the focus took aim further south.

Credit: Meteoceil

A low at Sennybridge of -4.7C appears to the the coldest May night since 1995 for Wales. The coldest ever recorded for May in Wales is -6.1C set back in 1967.

Parts of the Midlands even witnessed their coldest May nights in nearly 40 years.

The depth and widespread nature of this cold is very impressive for mid May.

Credit: Meteoceil

Northern sees coldest May night since 1982

This morning, the coming together of perfect atmospheric conditions (cool, dry, windless air) and geography (low lying countryside surrounded by gently slopped hills) allowed for cold air drainage into the well known cold hollow of Katesbridge, Co Down for a predawn low of -6.1C.

Credit: Mark Vogan

Katesbridge sits within the gently rolling fields of north Down as seen in my photo taken in September 2017.

Credit: Mark Vogan

This was Northern Ireland’s coldest May night since Moydamlaght, Co Londonderry fell to -6.5C on 7 May, 1982.

While not a new national May record, it was a new site record and came within just 0.4C of the NI May record.

It’s worth taking into account that the 1982 record was set on 7th May whereas the 2020 minimum was set on the 14th which may mean it’s the coldest for NI for so late in the year.

Katesbridge has a habit of getting close to national monthly cold records. Like this month, in April, 2015 it also came within 0.4C of a national monthly record. Also, like we’ve seen this month, that April low of -8.1C fell on the 27 April which suggests the coldest for so late in the year then.

The officiasl Met Office weather station just outside Katesbridge / Credit: Mark Vogan

Just three months after the bitter end of April low, in July, Katesbridge fell to a frosty -0.6C, which came just 0.3C shy of the July cold record for NI.


Interestingly, Northern Ireland has set 3 monthly cold records in the last 10 years, two of which have been at Katesbridge.

September -3.6 29 September 2018 Katesbridge (County Down)
August -1.9 24 August 2014 Katesbridge (County Down)
December -18.7 24 December 2010 Castlederg (County Tyrone)

While there’s been 3 new monthly cold records set, there’s been just one monthly heat record during the same period.

November 18.5 10 November 2015 Murlough (County Down)

Visit to Katesbridge weather station, Northern Ireland’s icebox

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