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Hot weather and its impact in the UK

Summer can be a wonderful season, with lots of time spent outside enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Whilst many of us like to enjoy the sunshine and hot weather, we should make sure we do it safely and remember certain groups of people are more vulnerable than others to heat or ultraviolet radiation

What is the weather like in summer?

On average in the UK, July is the warmest month and June the sunniest while the rainfall totals throughout the UK in summer can be rather variable. The highest temperatures tend to be seen around London and the south-east with the coolest temperatures experienced throughout Scotland and northern England.

 

Highest daily maximum temperature records

 

Country

Temperature ( °C)

Date

Location

England

38.5

10 August 2003

Faversham (Kent)

Wales

35.2

2 August 1990

Hawarden Bridge (Flintshire)

Scotland

32.9

9 August 2003

Greycrook (Scottish Borders)

Northern Ireland

30.8

30 June 1976

Knockarevan (County Fermanagh)

12 July 1983

Shaw's Bridge, Belfast (County Antrim)

 

The UK in summer can experience blocking anticyclones which can bring long spells of warm weather and create heatwave conditions.

 

Heatwave

The UK experiences occasional heatwaves but of a lesser frequency and intensity to those seen elsewhere globally.

In August 2003, the UK experienced heatwave conditions lasting 10 days resulting in 2,000 deaths. During this heatwave, a record maximum temperature of 38.5 °C was recorded at Faversham in Kent. In July 2006, similar conditions occurred breaking many station records and resulting in the warmest month on record in the UK.

 

Impacts of Hot weather

Whilst many of us like to enjoy the sunshine and hot weather, we should make sure we do it safely and remember certain groups of people are more vulnerable than others to heat or ultraviolet radiation.

Extreme heat can force the body into overdrive as it tries to stay cool through perspiration and evaporation. Young children and older people are particularly at risk. Overexposure to sun is equally dangerous, with effects ranging from mild sunburn to skin cancer. It doesn’t have to be hot for the UV index to be high.

The hot weather not only affects us but can also place strains on water and energy utilities, road and rail transport and the health and fire services.

In 2006 heat damage to road surfaces was reported from Cornwall to Cumbria, with the cost of repairs estimated at £3.6m in Oxfordshire alone. Speed restrictions were introduced on many rail lines, because of the risk of buckling with the west coast main line particularly affected with delays and cancellations.

In 1990 the fire services were kept busy tackling heath and farmland fires that broke out due to the dry conditions that had prevailed since March that year.

In 1976, one of the most prolonged heatwaves in living memory, the hot, dry weather affected domestic water supplies leading to widespread water rationing.