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Balmy September warmer than August

September was warmer than August across parts of the UK, according to figures released today.

The Central England Temperature of 15.3C was 1.2C above the mean for 1981-2010, making the month - rarely - warmer than August, said weather historian Philip Eden.

It was the warmest September since 2006, and in the last 100 years only three Septembers were warmer, two had the same mean temperature, while 95 were cooler.

All parts of the UK were rather warm, and most of the country was dry or very dry.

The highest maximum at a standard site (ie excluding rooftop and mountain sites) was 27C at St Helier (Jersey) on the 16th, while the lowest minimum was minus 0.1C at Katesbridge (Co Down) on the 8th. The lowest daytime maximum was 10.1C at Loch Glascarnoch (Wester Ross) on the 7th, while the warmest night was that of the 16th/17th with a notably high minimum of 18.3°C at Jersey airport.

The figures were published as the Met Office in a separate press release said it was set to be the driest September across the UK since records began in 1910, with exceptionally low rainfall for many parts of the country.

It is also likely to finish in the top five warmest, with UK mean temperatures significantly above the monthly average.

The Met Office said that, using figures from September 1-28, the UK as a whole had received 19.4mm (0.8in) of rain, just 20% of the normal amount of rainfall which would be expected for the month. Before this one, the driest September on record was 1959 with 23.8mm (0.9in).

Looking at individual countries, Northern Ireland should break the record for September dryness with only 6.5mm (0.3in) of rain, just 7% of the average. The previous record was set in 1986, with 9.7mm (0.4in).

England, Wales and Scotland are likely to have their second driest September on record, with 13.5mm (0.5in), 11.9mm (0.4in) and 33.3mm (1.3in) of rain respectively. Records were set in 1959 (7.9mm/0.3in), 1959 (11.7mm/0.4in) and 1972 (31.7mm/1.3in) respectively.

This September follows on from the eighth wettest August on record and comes in a generally very wet year - this January to August is the wettest such period in the records, mainly as a result of the very wet start to the year and the wettest winter on record.

This means water levels remain sufficient. Trevor Bishop, Environment Agency deputy director of water resources, said: "Following the wettest January to August on record, water resources in England are around normal for the time of year.

"We also look ahead by modelling how rivers and groundwater may respond to different future rainfall patterns. The results show a broadly positive picture and even if rainfall is below average this autumn the country will not go into drought."

The mean temperature for the UK so far has been 13.9C (57F), which is 1.2C above the long-term average. This means it has been the joint fourth warmest September in the records back to 1910, but is well below the record of 15.2C (59F) set in 2006.

Sunshine amounts have been closer to average, with 94% of what would normally be expected across the UK.

The dry and warm conditions have been caused by high pressure dominating the weather for much of the month.

This tends to block more unsettled weather heading in off the Atlantic, leaving the UK fine, dry and fairly sunny.

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