Winter set to be warmest in England since the 17th century
This winter is set to be the warmest in records for England stretching back to the 17th century, figures have shown.
The central England temperature series, covering an area over the middle of England, has seen an average temperature of 7C (44.6F) this winter, making it the warmest in records dating back to 1659 and beating the previous high of 6.8C (44.2F) in 1868-69.
Early figures up to February 24 released by the Met Office also show that the season is on track to be the second wettest winter on record for the UK, and the warmest for the whole of England and Wales in records dating back to 1910.
While February looks to have had fairly average conditions, the record-breaking mild and rainy December has meant that the winter as a whole - through December, January and February - has been warm and wet.
The average temperature for the UK has been 5.6C (42F), well above the long term norm of 3.7C (38.7F) for the season, making this winter the third warmest across the UK in the records going back to 1910.
With temperatures more than 2C (3.6F) above long-term averages, England and Wales have both seen their warmest winter on record.
It has also been the second wettest winter on record for the UK, with average total rainfall across the country at 515mm (20.2 inches), second only to the record wet winter of 2013/2014, which saw widespread storms and flooding.
Wales and Scotland have both experienced their wettest winter on record, while totals in Northern Ireland had equalled the current record year of 1994 by February 24. Only parts of East Anglia and eastern England did not see above average rainfall.
The rainy, cloudy conditions also meant it was less sunny than average for the winter, although England has had more sunshine than average in the past month, and other parts of the UK have seen near-average sunshine in February.
The full figures for winter 2015/2016 are due to be released by the Met Office later this week.