The British are renowned for talking about the weather, and with 2018 hitting record temperatures, the heat certainly got conversations flowing. So, just how hot was last year, and how did the heatwave compare to previous UK highs?
Summer 2018 at a glance
High pressure settled across the UK on 23 June last year, where it stayed put for six weeks, with daytime temperatures frequently hitting the 30°C mark. A record high for 2018 was claimed in Faversham on 26 July, when the mercury topped 35.3°C, but how do these stats compare to other heatwaves the UK has experienced over the years? Let’s take a look.
2018 was declared the UK’s joint hottest summer since records began back in 1910. Temperatures were comparable to those reached during the summers of 1976, 2003 and 2006.
The UK average summer temperature last year peaked at 15.80°C, just slightly above the 1976 and 2003 records of 15.77°C, and 15.78°C set in 2006. However, since this margin difference between all four years is so minuscule, experts reckon it’s hard to separate the figures from a statistical perspective, and so they all earn joint hottest status.
England was the hottest it had ever been last summer, with its average temperatures marginally overtaking those from 1976. The mean temperature in England peaked at 17.2°C last year, compared to 17°C set in 1976.
However, last year’s highs failed to beat the hottest ever recorded temperature in the UK, which was set in 2003 in Faversham and remains a sizzling 38.5°C.
In particular, 1976 went down in the history books as a very hot year, with 15 consecutive days of temperatures failing to drop below 32°C, causing widespread drought. As a result of the dry weather, the government even appointed a Minister for Drought.
Although natural weather cycles dictate that some summers will be hotter than others, there are a number of other factors that can cause a heatwave.
The 2018 swelter was the result of high pressure over the UK refusing to budge. Weather experts reckon this came from a meandering jet stream that took a northerly direction across the UK.
The precise location of high pressure can influence how a heatwave pans out. For example, the scorching summer of 1976 saw high pressure placed further eastwards than its 2018 counterpart. This drew humid air from the south, resulting in hotter temperatures during the night of the 1976 heatwave, compared to those last year.
However, more worryingly, scientists believe that climate change is playing a role in increasing global temperatures. The mercury has been rising by one degree since the industrial revolution, with greenhouse gas emissions likely to be a culprit for contributing to the 2018 heatwave.
With last year being such a sweltering summer, many people are already questioning what summer 2019 might have in store. Although weather forecasters claim that it’s not always easy predicting what lies ahead, the long-range forecast from March until May suggests that the UK could see slightly higher than average temperatures. With temperatures hitting the 20°C mark back in February and smashing records, only time will tell if further record highs will be broken as summer makes its entrance.
Whether the sun breaks records or not this year, there’s no need to get hot under the collar thanks to the high-quality range of air-conditioning systems available from GREE UK.