Ireland saw temperatures ‘close to normal’ amid Europe’s hottest year on record

New report says average temperature in Europe in 2020 was 1.9 degrees above recent norm

Europe experienced its warmest year in the history of measurements last year, but Ireland was an exception, experiencing temperatures and precipitation close to recent average levels in nearly all metrics, according to a major global environmental report.

The average temperature in Europe in 2020 was 1.9 degrees Celsius above the long-term average for 1981-2010, the 31st edition of the state of the climate report published online by the American Meteorological Society shows.

“Overall, the year was exceptionally warm and almost all of Europe reported temperatures higher than normal,” according to the almost 500-page report.

It noted that all European regions observed anomalies well above +1 degree in average temperatures for the year when compared with the 1981-2010 base period used by the study, with “the exception of Portugal, southern Spain, most of Italy, Ireland, and the northern United Kingdom”.


Autumn was warmer than the 1981-2010 average across Europe, except for areas on the Iberian Peninsula and Ireland.

Autumn precipitation was close to the average or slightly wetter than the average for Ireland, Britain, Benelux, and the Scandinavian countries.

In contrast, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula received precipitation of about 80 per cent of the average during the season.

All western European countries reported a record warm year (France: +1.5 degrees compared with the average; Netherlands: +1.6 degrees; Belgium: + 1.9 degrees; Luxembourg: +2.1 degrees), except for the UK and the Republic, which were “close to normal”.

Winter was warmer than normal for these countries too. Except for the UK and the Republic, every state in western Europe reported anomalies of well above +2 degrees for the three months.

Spring was very warm for France, Belgium, and Luxembourg (anomalies of +1.7 degrees, +1.2 degrees, and +2 degrees respectively), ranking second warmest on record for France and third warmest for Belgium and Luxembourg.

Anomalies for the Republic, the UK, and the Netherlands in spring temperatures were below +0.9 degrees.

April was notably warm in western Europe. France reported its third-warmest April with an anomaly of +3 degrees compared with the average, as did Luxembourg (+4.2 degrees).

The UK and the Netherlands had their fifth- (+1.7 degrees) and sixth- (+1.9 degrees) warmest Aprils on record, respectively.

May was the fifth warmest (+1.5 degrees) on record for France, while the State, Belgium, and Luxembourg reported anomalies of about +0.7 degrees for the month. Temperatures in the UK and the Netherlands were near normal for the month.

Summer temperatures

Summer temperatures ranged from +1 degree when compared with the average in France, to +1.6 degrees in Luxembourg. Temperatures were only slightly above normal for the UK, and the State reported slightly below-normal temperatures.

During July, both the UK and the State recorded temperature anomalies that were more than below -1 degree below average.

During autumn, temperatures again were very different in Ireland and Britain compared with the mainland. While the UK and the State had temperatures near normal, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands reported their fourth-warmest autumn, and France its fifth warmest.

In Europe, summer rainfall was between 66 per cent and 85 per cent of the average, except for in the UK and the State, which received above-average precipitation of about 135 per cent of the norm, and the Netherlands with near-normal precipitation.

During autumn, precipitation was near normal for the Republic, the UK, and Belgium.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter