This year has joined 2021 and 2022 as one of the warmest autumns on record in the UK, figures show.

The mean temperature for the past three months was 10.76C, according to provisional data from the Met Office.

This is high enough to rank it as the UK’s sixth warmest autumn since records began in 1884, slightly below last year (11.05C) and 2021 (10.84C).

The season has seen sharp extremes in weather, including a heatwave in early September with temperatures peaking above 30C, another hot spell in October and a cold snap at the very end of November.

All of the UK’s top six warmest autumns have occurred this century, with eight of the top 10.

The warmest autumn on record was in 2006, when the mean temperature was 11.35C.

Autumn graphic
(PA Graphics)

The Met Office figures show that south-west England provisionally saw its warmest autumn on record this year, with a mean temperature of 12.31C, just above the previous record of 12.28C in 2011.

England as a whole saw its third warmest autumn, with a mean temperature of 12.01C, ranking behind 2006 (12.37C) and 2011 (12.17C).

Wales also saw its third warmest autumn, at 11.47C, behind 2011 (11.55C) and 2006 (11.53C).

It was the sixth warmest autumn in Northern Ireland, where the mean temperature was 10.60C, but the picture was different for Scotland, where the season ranked as the joint 21st warmest, at 8.50C.

Met Office senior scientist Mike Kendon said: “Once again the autumn has demonstrated the huge variability in our climate.

“Temperatures over 30C in early September seem a distant memory to the current cold snap, with a hard frost and snow currently lying on Dartmoor.

“The succession of named storms experienced through the autumn illustrates the potential of our weather, strong winds and particularly heavy rain, to cause significant widespread impacts.

“Overall this has been another mild and wet autumn, and this is consistent with the ongoing pattern which is emerging as our climate continues to change.”

Autumn weather October 20th 2023
Waves crash against South Shields lighthouse on October 20 2023, after the top was ripped off during storm Babet (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Four named storms hit the UK from late September to mid-November – Agnes, Babet, Ciaran and Debi – all of which led to exceptionally wet and windy conditions.

Scotland had its wettest two-day period on record on October 6-7, while Babet brought the third wettest three-day period on record for England and Wales from October 18-20.

The unsettled weather meant the UK saw its 11th wettest autumn on record this year, in a series dating back to 1836.

Eastern Scotland had its seventh wettest autumn, Northern Ireland its eighth wettest and both northern England and south-east England their ninth wettest.

The Met Office figures come a day after the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record.

The global average temperature is estimated to be around 1.4C above that for the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900.

This is just below the target limit of 1.5C, as specified by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Temperatures are likely to remain high going into 2024 due to El Nino – a naturally-occurring process in the eastern tropical Pacific that sees warmer water rise to the surface.

(PA Graphics)

WMO secretary-general Professor Petteri Taalas said: “Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record high. Sea level rise is record high. Antarctic sea ice is record low. It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records.

“These are more than just statistics. We risk losing the race to save our glaciers and to rein in sea level rise.

“We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries.”

The WMO has published its provisional figures for 2023 so that it can inform negotiations at the UN climate conference Cop28 in Dubai, which began this week.