THE UK has experienced the driest September since records began in 1910, with exceptionally low rainfall recorded for many parts of the country, forecasters have revealed.
This September is set to finish in the top five warmest of all time with temperatures significantly above the UK average for the month, the Met Office said.
Based on figures from 1-28 September, the UK received 19.4mm of rain, or just 20 per cent of the normal amount expected for the month. The previous driest September was in 1959 with 23.8mm of rain.
Scotland is set to have its second driest September on record with 33.3mm of rain compared with 31.7mm in 1972.
However, the warm, dry, conditions are not expected to last in Scotland, with the Met Office saying that wetter weather is on the way.
A spokeswoman said: “We’ve had high pressure dominating through much of September, which brings with it warmer, more settled conditions. It also has the added bonus in that the high pressure has held the weather fronts that come across the Atlantic at bay, which bring cooler, damper, more wintry conditions.
“High pressure has been protecting us but that is now slowly moving off.
“As we head into October, we have low pressure bringing more unsettled weather, and Scotland will start seeing fairly heavy rain and strong winds towards the end of the week.”
The mean temperature for the UK so far has been 13.9C, 1.2C above the long-term average. This makes it the joint fourth warmest September since records began in 1910, but is well below the record average temperature for the month of 15.2C set in 2006.
Meanwhile, it emerged the dry weather has had a knock-on effect on shops, with retailers reporting a downturn in sales of autumn/winter clothing.
Fashion retailer Next has warned that it will have to lower its profits guidance for this year if the “Indian summer” continues for the rest of the UK.
September is an important month for the industry but, with slower demand for jumpers and coats, Next’s sales are currently up 6 per cent in the quarter to the end of October, rather than the 10 per cent it had previously forecast.
The firm hopes it will recover some lost sales when the weather turns but if October is warmer than usual, it is likely to lower its full-year profit guidance of £775 million-£815m.
The group, which overtook Marks & Spencer with a £695m annual profit earlier this year, had been experiencing its strongest sales growth for many years prior to the slower than expected September.
Next shares opened 5 per cent lower, while other retailers were also affected by the update. M&S dropped 4 per cent and Sports Direct International fell 1 per cent.
Freddie George, a retail analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, said: “The impact of the mild weather, which we have been flagging up over the last two weeks, is impacting all retailers in the UK and is only a temporary phenomenon.”
Next’s warning comes less than two weeks after the employee-owned John Lewis, Britain’s largest department store chain, became the first UK major to say shoppers were delaying purchases of winter coats, hats and boots because of the unseasonably warm, dry weather.