This winter was one of ten mildest on record

This winter has been one of the mildest on record.
This winter has been one of the mildest on record.

Britain experienced one of the ten mildest winters since records began more than 100 years ago, according to the Met Office.

Normally winters are either cold and dry, or mild and wet.

But instead we have seen the unusual combination of dry and mild conditions over the last three months.

Experts say this is because of high pressure conditions over Scandinavia, which has acted as a "shield" over Europe.

Statistics varied across the UK, with Scotland experiencing the fourth mildest winter on record, and Northern Ireland the fifth mildest.

As a whole, the UK has had the ninth mildest winter since records began in 1910.

Although the winters of 2013/14 and 2015/16 were both milder, the crucial difference is they were also very wet and often stormy.

Weathermen define winter as the months of December, January and February.

Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Met Office, said: "This winter has been quite unusual because of the pattern.

"It has not been particularly stormy. We have had Storm Doris and Storm Ewan recently, but so far this winter we have not had anywhere near the number of storms we had last winter.

"What we have had this winter is quite unusual, in that we have had a relatively mild winter. But also a very dry one.

"To get a relatively mild, dry winter is climatically quite unusual."

He added: "That is basically because we had high pressure over Scandinavia this winter.

"What the high pressure does is it tends to deflect any of the storms coming in from the Atlantic. It is almost like a shield, sitting over the UK and Europe.

"Which is why we have had relatively calmer conditions. Obviously we have had the odd storm that has broken through, but the pattern is we have had this relatively calm period of winter.”

The UK has also had about three quarters of the average rainfall, he added.

Northern Ireland has been the driest with 63.5 per cent of its average, while Scotland the highest with 82 per cent.

Looking ahead, Mr Madge said: "The fact that we had one set of conditions does not necessarily mean that those set of conditions will continue.

"Obviously we are able to produce forecasts for the next five to seven days.

"Beyond that, the picture is more chaotic.

"It's a little like a football game. Most times the favourite might win, but it doesn't always mean you can predict the outcome. You do frequently get surprises. It's the same with weather.

"You look for subtle cues. But just because your team is favourite to win, doesn't mean they will on the night."

Climate Scientist Dr Mark McCarthy from the National Climate Information Centre said: "This winter has been dry for most of the UK. What is unusual is the combination of mild and dry conditions, as these factors do not usually go hand in hand in a typical UK winter.

"This is due to spells of high pressure bringing settled calm conditions being mixed in with depressions that have pulled warm air up from the south."