What a summer!

By Ben Cosh

What a summer it has been so far. The data is brilliant when it is like this. Stephen Burt keeps an eye on it and has filled me in on the (nearly) record-breaking numbers we’re seeing.

It’s been hot.

The last three weeks average daily maximum temperature is more than 5 degrees hotter than normal. On the hottest day of the summer so far (1st July) we reached 30.8C and we’ve nudged above 30C a few of times.

But we’re a little way off really big records. Even last year we reached 32.5C on 21st June and the hottest maximum in our records is 36.4C from 3rd August 1990. In 1976 we got to 30C for 14 consecutive days, and in 2003 we did so for 6 consecutive days. I remember that week in 2003 because my mother-in-law was visiting from her home in Atlanta. Although 30C is commonplace where she lives, our lack of ubiquitous air conditioning made London almost unbearable!

It’s also been sunny and dry.

We had the second sunniest May since our records began in 1956, with 265 hours of sunshine. June had a third more sunshine-hours than normal with 253 hours. And in the last three weeks (the 21 days to Wednesday 11th July) we’ve had 261 hours of sunshine. That’s 12.44 hours a day. Only 1976 has a sunnier three-week period on record.

As I write this on 13th July, we’ve had no rain at all since 17th June. That’s 25 days and counting. This is our longest dry-spell for 21 years, since a 31-day period with no rain in 1997. I wonder if we’ll make it to the record of 37 days from… you’ve guessed it… 1976.

I am privileged to be the Head of the University of Reading School which includes our world-leading, globally-important department of Meteorology. But I watch the weather like most people do and post ad hoc forecasts (drawn from the main services) to our village Facebook group. There has been little point for the last six weeks though. There are only so many ways you can say: It’s going to be hot and sunny and dry again.

The Met Office and Meteogroup suggest this trend is going to continue for the next couple of weeks or so.

Perhaps a shower or two will creep in.

At the moment, that would be a big story round our way!


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