After a notably mild November, the first few weeks of December are set to be marked by similarly above-average temperatures. The numbers for November were 2.2C above the monthly average, with overnight temperatures of 16C reported in some parts of Northern Ireland.
As December begins, forecasters are predicting more mild weather for much of the country. Despite wind and rain warnings being issued for this weekend (5 and 6 December) in Wales and northern England, much of the country is expected to see above-average temperatures.
"The start of winter follows the trend of autumn – beginning mild," a spokesperson for the Weather Network said. "In December wind and rain dominates, especially in Scotland and across Wales, western England and Ireland, with southern and eastern areas tending to be drier."
However, forecasters are predicting the weather to turn colder later in the month and are expecting more snow days than last year's winter. Despite this, the start of January is due to welcome back the rain and wind, with colder air not returning to the country until late January.
A white Christmas still a possibility
While the strong El Nino is one of the factors contributing towards a relatively warm start to the winter season, other factors have come into play as well. The Weather Network explains that warmer than average water in the North Pacific and Indian Ocean, as well as colder waters in the Atlantic, are also playing a role in shaping the weather for this winter.
The final week of December is expected to see colder and more unsettled weather, particularly during the Christmas period. Snow showers are likely to continue across Scotland, but could also find its way down to lower levels and to some parts of England, Wales and Ireland. While most of it will be confined to the hills, some lower-lying areas might see some snowfall as well.
Forecasters have also warned of a particularly windy end to the month, with strong gale forces expected. It is also expected to be wetter than average for most, particularly in the west.
The spokesperson for the Weather Network said: "As fronts pass east they will bring rain and sleet but then the snow showers following as cooler air arrives behind the fronts. It could be windy at times too, with a risk of severe gales."