Yes, May 2020 was an exceptionally sunny month with anomalies 42% higher than the LTA across the whole of the UK. Remarkably it was also the sunniest calendar month since gridded data back to 1929 as well. There are at least another dozen sunny May’s in the top 40 sunniest months in the UK, so it’s not unthinkable that a May could have ended up being the sunniest calendar month ever. Sunshine records started in 1929 in the UK, that’s the year the Met Office have bothered to digitise sunshine records back to, hopefully this will change soon thanks to the army of volunteers that have been giving them a hand to get years before then digitised.
Only sunniest in England and Wales
This May’s gridded sunshine totals for the UK do throw up a few oddities though. It May have been the sunniest across England and Wales, but not in Northern Ireland or Scotland, so this UK record does ring a bit hollow when you live in northwest Scotland, where sunshine totals were much closer to average. That’s the problem with gridded data – there’s not just one giant sunshine card for the whole of the UK – but dozens of sunshine records from AWS scattered across the land, but strangely no one ever seems to question this fact when a new monthly or seasonal rainfall, temperature or sunshine extreme is broken.
May’s steadily getting sunnier
Statistically May, like a number of other months, has been getting progressively sunnier since 1929 by around 2.2 hours per decade which means that May is now typically 20 hours sunnier that it was in the Great Depression of 1929.