The UK could be on the brink of the warmest Christmas day on record as forecasts predict more mild weather for December. Temperatures rose to 16C in the south-east on 16 and 17 December, higher than the temperature recorded on the UK's hottest Christmas day (15.6C).
The two warmest Christmas days so far were recorded in Edinburgh (1896) and Devon (1920), both with temperatures of 15.6C. The second-highest was recorded in Dyce in 2011 at 15.1C. Mild weather patterns over the last few weeks indicate that parts of the UK could see temperatures higher than the maximums already recorded.
A spokesperson for the Met Office said: "Through the Christmas period and into the start of January it seems more likely than not that the unsettled weather pattern we have experienced through November and early December will continue."
The mildest start to December has already been recorded in Wales (8.7C), south-west England (9.8C) and south-east England (10C). The past few weeks have also been recorded as the 4th warmest December on record for the whole of the UK, with 1979, 2000 and 2006 being only marginally warmer. Maximum daily temperatures have been 3.2C above average for the first half of the month.
The mild weather follows on from news that last month was noted as the warmest November month on record, with temperatures reaching as high as 22.4C in Wales. Overnight temperatures remained mild as well, with 16C in Northern Ireland on 9-10 November night. Temperatures are believed to remain above average throughout the rest of December, slashing hopes for a White Christmas in many regions.
Forecasters at the Met Office and the World Metrological Organisation (IMO) have said that 2015 is set to surpass 2014 as the warmest year on record. The mean temperature for the year is likely to be 0.71C above the annual global average of 14C. Weather experts at the Met Office are also suggesting now that 2016 could be even warmer than 2014 and 2015.
Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, said: "This forecast suggests that by the end of 2016, we will have seen three record, or near-record years in a row for global temperatures."
The mild weather contrasts sharply with earlier forecasts that this winter would bring an "Arctic freeze" for much of the UK. Forecasters predicted the "coldest winter in 50 years" would hit Britain as early as October, however, temperatures remained exceptionally mild through the autumn.