Record breaking heat and sunshine - July 2006

July 2006 was the warmest month on record over much of the UK and the sunniest over parts of England.

Many station and areal records were broken, mainly for July but some were for any month. Notably, in the monthly Central England Temperature series which commenced in 1659, it was the warmest calendar month yet recorded. The numerous warm, sunny days were associated with anomalously high pressure over northern Europe and a persistent southerly airstream over the UK.

Warmest calendar month yet recorded

WarmestCETmonths_clip_image002

Impacts

The heat placed strains on water and energy utilities, road and rail transport and the health and fire services. For example, heat damage to road surfaces was reported from Cornwall to Cumbria - the cost of repairs was estimated at £3.6m in Oxfordshire alone. Speed restrictions were introduced on many rail lines, because of the risk of buckling - the west coast main line was particularly affected with delays and cancellations. Heat-Health Watch temperature warnings were in use for England and Wales, with advice to minimise the impacts of the heat - the number of excess deaths (680) was lower than in the August 2003 heatwave (2139).  Numerous grassland, moorland and forest fires broke out - restrictions were activated on open access land, mainly in northern England. However, the hot sunny weather also brought benefits to the tourist industry, food and drink retailers and, to some extent, farmers and growers.

Weather data

Daily variation

The first four days of the month saw weather that was to recur on many days later in the month, especially over England and Wales. Each day maximum temperatures exceeded 28 °C widely across England and Wales, with 30-32 °C in southern England and the Midlands, and over 10 hours of bright sunshine was recorded, with 12-14 hours in some eastern and southern areas of England. On the 5th and 6th, as thundery rain affected the southern half of the UK, it was the turn of the north to experience warm weather with temperatures over 26 °C widely. The next few days saw more-changeable conditions with near normal temperatures, before England again turned warmer and sunnier on 11th and 12th. Anticyclonic weather became firmly established over the UK and the North Sea from the 13th, bringing increasingly warm air from the east or south-east with little or no cloud. This middle part of the month saw the sunniest and warmest weather. Sunshine totals of 14-15 hours were recorded widely each day from the 11th to 19th, especially over England and Wales. By the 16th, temperatures were approaching 30 °C over much of England and Wales and continued to climb across the UK each day, exceeding 35 °C in places on the 19th when new UK and Welsh temperature records for July were set. The value of 36.5 °C recorded at Wisley, Surrey on 19th overturned the UK record for July of 35.9 °C set on 3 July 1976 at Cheltenham, Glos. Hot weather persisted for much of the following week, particularly over England and Wales. On the 25th, temperatures reached 33° C in the London area, with 34.1 °C at Charlwood, Surrey making this the second-hottest day of July. The 26th saw similar heat in south-east England. As the month drew to a close temperatures declined as Atlantic fronts advanced eastwards.

The synoptic chart for 1200 GMT 19 July 2006

asxx_20060719_1200UTC

Highest temperatures

The highest temperatures recorded in the period 16th-29th are shown on this map.

Max_temp1629Jul

The highest temperatures recorded on 19 July are shown in this map.

MaxTemp1907Points

Highest temperatures recorded in July 2006 at a selection of long period stations
Station Highest Temperature (°C) / Date Earliest year for records Ranking of highest temperature Current or previous any month record (°C) / Date
Wisley, Surrey 36.5 / 19th 1904 2 37.8 / 10 August 2003
Cambridge Botanic Garden 35.6 / 19th 1904 4 36.9 / 10 August 2003
Heathrow, Greater London 35.5 / 19th 1948 3 37.9 / 10 August 2003
Alice Holt Lodge, Hampshire 35.4 / 19th 1950 1 35.1 / 10 August 2003
Oxford 34.8 / 19th 1881 3 35.1 / 3 August 1990
Gogerddan, Ceredigion 34.6 / 19th 1956 1 32.8 / 2 August 1990
Boscombe Down, Wiltshire 34.5 / 19th 1931 1 34.2 / 3 August 1990
Usk, Monmouthshire 34.1 / 19th 1924 1 33.6 / 3 July 1976
Aberporth, Ceredigion 34.1 / 19th 1942 1 31.8 / 2 August 1995
Valley, Anglesey 33.6 / 19th 1931 1 33.0 / 5 August 2003
Hastings, East Sussex 33.2 / 19th 1931 1 32.3 / 27 June 1976
Auchincruive, Ayrshire 30.7 / 19th 1932 1 30.6 / 29 July 1948
Buxton, Derbyshire 30.1 / 19th 1908 # 4 32.7 / 3 August 1990
Dyce, Aberdeen 29.8 / 17th 1943 1 29.7 / 21 August 1995
Lough Navar Forest, Co. Fermanagh 29.8 /19th 1962 1 28.8 / 30 June 1976
Kielder Castle, Northumberland 29.7 / 18th 1951 2 30.0 / 9 August 2003
Helens Bay, Co. Down 28.4 / 17th 1961 2 28.8 / 29 June 1995

# Monthly Weather Reports back to 1908

The month

Maps of daily average maximum temperature sunshine total for July 2006 

2006_7_MaxTemp_Actual

Maps of daily average monthly sunshine total for July 2006 

2006_7_Sunshine_Actual

Regional Mean Daily Maximum Temperature
Region Actual (°C) Variation from
1961-90 (°C)
Rank - July Comments - previous July values Rank - any month Comments - previous any month values
UK 17.8 3.4 1 17.3 °C in July 1983 1 17.3 °C in July 1983 and August 1995
England 19.3 3.8 1 18.7 °C in July 1983 1 18.7 °C in July 1983
Wales 17.8 3.2 2 18.1 °C in July 1983 3 18.0 °C in August 1995
England & Wales 19.1 3.7 1 18.6 °C in July 1983 1 18.6 °C in July 1983
Scotland 15.6 3.1 1 15.0 °C in July 1983 1 15.4 °C in August 1947
N Ireland 16.7 2.7 1 16.5 °C in July 1983 2 17.1 °C in August 1995
Regional Sunshine duration
Region Actual (hours) Variation from 1961-90 (%) Rank - July Comments - previous July values Rank - any month Comments - previous any month values
UK 253.3 152 2 256.1 hr in July 1955 6 -
England 291.8 158 1 262.6 hr in July 1989 1 * 284.3 hr in June 1957
Wales 261.0 149 3 297.5 hr in July 1955 and 268.1 hr in July 1940 7 -
England & Wales 287.6 157 1 265.0 hr in July 1955 1 * 284.6 hr in June 1957
Scotland 195.4 138 4 - 39 -
N Ireland 207.9 149 4 - 34 -

* The ranking is on the basis of monthly totals but if hours/day is used then the June 1957 values of 9.48 hours/day for England and 9.49 hours/day for England & Wales exceed those for July 2006 (9.41 hours/day and 9.28 hours/day respectively)

Further information

Reference: 'The record breaking heat and sunshine of July 2006' J. Prior and M. Beswick, Weather magazine published by the Royal Meteorological Society,Vol. 62, 2007, pp. 174-182.

The record breaking heat and sunshine of July 2006

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Last updated: 29 October 2012