March weather third warmest on record, says Met Office

A woman outside beach huts March 2012 was one of the warmest, driest and sunniest on record

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Last month was the third warmest March on record - outshone only by 1938 and 1957 - the Met Office has said.

It had an average temperature of 7.7C, compared with March 1938, which had an average of 8C. It was also the fifth driest and third sunniest March.

March saw a total precipitation of 36.4mm of rain and 156.5 hours of sunshine across the month.

Records for temperature and rainfall began in 1910, while the measurements for sunshine began in 1929.

Scottish records

March weather in review

The month began with a spell of mild and fine weather, though over the first weekend a short spell of unsettled conditions brought some rain which, unusually, was heaviest over East Anglia.

From the 8th onwards it became settled again, as high pressure built, with much of England and Wales enjoying a pleasant taste of spring on Sunday 11th. By the 15th, more unsettled conditions arrived, but this lasted briefly and actually brought little rain.

From the 19th onwards it became settled again over most areas, and from 23rd to 29th many areas had several days of uninterrupted sunshine. This period was most notable, however, for record-breaking maximum temperatures, with some records for March being broken by as much as 4C.

The high pressure moved westward during the last two days, introducing somewhat cooler and cloudier conditions, particularly to the north-east of the UK.

Helen Chivers, Met Office

The driest and the sunniest March both occurred in 1929, with just 17mm of rainfall and 169.5 hours of sunshine recorded.

England saw an average temperature throughout the month of 8.1C. Wales recorded 7.9C, Scotland 7C and Northern Ireland's was 8.1C. The average temperatures are measured across every hour of the day and night.

And during the month there were 175.4 hours of sunshine in England, 158.8 in Wales, 129.7 in Scotland and 127.5 in Northern Ireland.

Rainfall in England was 26.5mm with 31.4mm in Wales, 56.8mm in Scotland and 21.4mm in Northern Ireland.

The good weather saw Scotland set a new record for its highest March temperature three days in a row.

Aboyne in Aberdeenshire recorded 23.6C on Tuesday 27 March, beating the record of 23.2C set at Cromdale, near Grantown on Spey, the previous afternoon.

And the day before that, Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire recorded 22.8C, beating a March temperature record which had stood for 55 years.

Not only did we see some record-breaking warmth this March, it was also very dry once again. BBC Weather's Laura Tobin explains.

The previous record March temperature in Scotland stood at 22.2C, recorded in 1957 at Gordon Castle, in Moray, and again at Strachan, in Kincardineshire, in 1965.

It was during March that seven water companies across southern and eastern England announced they were imposing water restrictions.

This came after the past two winters were unusually dry, leaving reservoirs, aquifers and rivers below normal levels.

With last month being the fifth driest March on record, water levels have not improved and so the hosepipe ban will begin on Thursday.

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