Scotland 'Arctic' weather: Why the winter chill will come as a shock in a year that's on course to be warmest yet

Brrrr, it’s cold outside. And getting colder.

An Arctic blast is sweeping much of the country, bringing super-chilly weather and snow in many places. We’ve been warned the mercury could drop as low as –10C in some areas.

Pretty nippy for sure, but the coldest December temperature ever recorded in Scotland was a baltic –27.2C in Sutherland. I remember the day well, December 30, 1995, when I took a bus from Glasgow to visit family back home in the north-west Highlands.

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It was so cold the bus wouldn’t start. Nor its replacement. Third time lucky, we set off.

I’ve never felt so utterly frozen to the core in my life. Despite sensible winter attire – sturdy boots, jumpers, gloves, sheepskin coat – I shivered for the entire six-hour journey.

I had to scrape a wee hole in the frost that had formed from my breath on the window so I could peek out at the scenery as we travelled north. I might have cried, but my tears turned to ice before they could be shed.

This current cold spell is not unusual for December. However, it may feel like quite a shock since it comes just days after the end of what is expected to be confirmed as Scotland’s hottest autumn ever.

The past three months have set new seasonal records for warmth, with an average temperature of 9.78C. That may not be quite ‘taps aff’ for most of us, but Moray was close to sweltering on November 11, when thermometers peaked at 19.1C on the hottest ever Armistice Day. Last month also saw the warmest ever November night – a balmy 14.6C.

An Arctic blast is hitting Scotland this week, bringing snow and icy temperatures that could plunge as low as –10C in some places. Picture: Ilona Amos

And the unseasonably mild autumn has followed the pattern playing out all year. This summer saw unprecedented scorching heat across mainland Britain, with temperatures rising above 40C for the first time since records began. All-time-highs were recorded in Scotland, England and Wales, shooting up to 34.8C, 40.3C and 37.1C respectively.

Scientists have concluded human-induced climate change is responsible, with 19 of the planet’s hottest years ever known having occurred since 2000.

So, although we’re heading for a cooler end to the year, 2022 is still on course – unless December pans out to be dramatically colder than average – to be our hottest year yet. That’s truly chilling.

Pic Lisa Ferguson 16/09/2015 Byline pic Ilona Amos

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