2018 British Isles heat wave

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2018 United Kingdom and Ireland heat wave
Dates 22 June – 7 August (46 days)
Areas affected British Isles
Highest temperature 35.3 °C (95.5 °F) in Faversham, Kent on 26 July.[1]
The parched landscape of the United Kingdom and northwestern Europe, 15 July 2018

The 2018 British Isles heat wave was a period of unusually hot weather that took place in June, July and August. It led to record-breaking temperatures in the UK and Ireland.[2] It has caused widespread drought, hosepipe bans, crop failures, and a number of wildfires. The largest fire broke out on Saddleworth Moor, Greater Manchester on 25 June.[3] Another fire started on Winter Hill on 28 June, approximately 35 miles from Saddleworth Moor.[4]

A heat wave was officially declared on 22 June, with Scotland and Northern Ireland recording temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) for the first time since the July 2013 heat wave. The British Isles were in the middle of a strong warm anticyclone inside a strong northward meander of the jet stream. On 6 August 2018, the Met Office warned that the warmer than average temperatures could last until October.[5]

Weather earlier in 2018[edit]

Spring 2018 started with record cold in early March with the 2018 Great Britain and Ireland cold wave. There were three spells of summer heat afterwards, starting in mid-April. The April 2018 heatwave began on the 18 and 19 April. St James's Park in London recorded the country's hottest April day in nearly 70 years when temperatures reached 29.1 °C (84.4 °F).[6] The unseasonably hot weather lasted for four days. On 22 April, the hottest London Marathon ever was recorded, with the temperature reaching 24.1 °C (75.4 °F). No national records were broken, but many places set local record high temperatures for April.[7]

After a cooler period from the end of April, temperatures started to rise again during early May. The May Day bank holiday was the hottest on record, with west London recording 28.7 °C (83.7 °F). A few days later, temperatures began to fall, but were still above average.[8] Temperatures began to rise even higher towards the end of May. It sparked violent thunderstorms leading to flash flooding, giving some parts of the country their first measurable precipitation during May. On 27 May, 81 millimetres (3.2 in) of torrential rain fell at Winterbourne, West Midlands, causing a flash flood. The majority of the country was hot and sunny.[9] May 2018 was one of the warmest and sunniest on record in the UK.[10]

Before the heat wave, anticyclonic conditions prevailed across the UK. May and early June had been much warmer and drier than average, and June was the driest for many years in the majority of the UK due to a persistently strong Azores High that blocked Atlantic low-pressure weather systems from reaching the British Isles.

Summer heat wave[edit]

A park in central Southampton on 25 July

The heat wave began on 23 June 2018 as high pressure built across the UK. Temperatures gradually rose. [11] On 27 June, a large wildfire which had been burning for three days on Saddleworth Moor, was declared a serious incident by Greater Manchester Police.[12]

New records were set in towns and cities across the British Isles, including Glasgow in Scotland; Shannon in Ireland;[13] and both Belfast and Castlederg in Northern Ireland.[14] It is part of a heat wave spanning the Northern Hemisphere, which has seen the hottest night ever recorded on Earth in Oman, where the lowest temperature was 42.6 °C (108.7 °F),[15] and the deaths of at least 33 people in Canada.[14]

On 2 July, forecasters predicted that high pressure will continue over the UK and that the heat wave may continue for another two weeks.[2] On 5 July, a weak weather front came in from the west but was mostly stopped over Ireland and the Irish Sea. This though caused some scattered showers over the Pennines, and a thunderstorm, which caused flash floods in Tunbridge Wells.[16] The weather also affected Britain's roads; gritters were mobilised due to the asphalt concrete softening under the extreme heat. A man's leg sank into a melted road in Heaton, Newcastle, and he had to be rescued by firefighters,[17] and a bin lorry's back wheels sank into the road in Newbury, Berkshire.[18]

On 10 July, a weak cold front crossed Britain from north to south and brought low cloud and a few spots of rain; but next day the cool air that it brought was quickly heated by the sun to become as hot as previous days.

The Met Office said the offical UK hotspot on 24 July was 33.3C recorded at Santon Downham in Suffolk.[19]

The Met Office said the official UK hotspot on 26 July was 35.3C recorded at Faversham in Kent.

Effects on the economy[edit]

The long period of dry warm weather, usually without unpleasant levels of humidity, strongly boosted the domestic tourism trade during this period. The official Visit Britain body forecast the number of international visitors to the UK would increase by around 15% from the USA alone, as the effect of the worldwide Royal Wedding publicity fed through into fine summer weather and late holiday bookings.[20] Hotels in competing Mediterranean resorts, such as Ibiza, were forced to slash their prices as demand from British tourists declined sharply as people decided to holiday in the British Isles.[21] Remoter resorts and destinations benefited from visitors' attempts to escape the domestic crowds, and rural Ireland reported a dramatic increase in tourism with an average of 70% occupancy rates at smaller establishments.[22]

Many companies concerned with outdoor activities reported the usual boost in sales that comes from a good summer, and estate agents reported that the warm dry summer was also helping their industry. Fresh produce growers such as the soft fruit sector were largely unaffected by the lack of rain, with British Summer Fruits chairman Nick Marsto telling Horticulture Week trade magazine that the... "soft-fruit sector has largely avoided any adverse effects.[23]

Health effects[edit]

The heatwave is adding to pressure on the NHS, on A&E departments and elsewhere. Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said, “I am very worried about the impact on the NHS of this summer. We know that this hot weather, (...) affects very elderly, vulnerable people. We know that asthma sufferers suffer particularly badly in the weather. [Ashworth mentioned his first hand experiences shadowing a hospital consultant] with lots of elderly vulnerable people being admitted to A&E, lying on trolleys because there’s no beds in the hospital”.

There are fears of over 1,000 excess deaths during the current heat wave. The Environmental Audit Committee of MP's fears 7,000 heat-related UK deaths annually by 2050 unless the government acts promptly. Chair of the committee, Mary Creagh said, “The government must stop playing pass the parcel with local councils and the NHS and develop a strategy to protect our ageing population from this increasing risk.” At risk, groups include elderly people, small children and people with heart and/or lung conditions. There are calls for government regulations to protect an ageing population from the effects of heat, effects include increased risk of death. During the 2003 European heat wave in some areas of the UK there were 42% increased deaths in nursing homes and the MP's want hospitals and care homes to be inspected to find out if they can cope with extreme heat. The TUC and others are calling for regulations about maximum workplace temperatures. Frances O'Grady of the TUC stated, “With heatwaves becoming more common, we need clear and sensible rules to protect working people. We’ve had legal minimum temperatures at work for a long time, which work very well. The government must now act quickly on the recommendation by MPs for maximum limits on how hot workplaces can get.” Also, dress codes for work and school uniform policy should be relaxed during heatwaves to improve work productivity and school learning. Ministers withdrew money for climate change adaptation officers in local authorities. Lack of “joined-up thinking” between government departments and lack of communication between the government and the public add to the death toll. Heatwave alerts are put out only if temperatures are over 30 degrees centigrade, but heat-related deaths start at 25 degrees.[24][25][26][27]

Drought[edit]

Stocks Reservoir on 12 July

On 29 June, Northern Ireland Water introduced the first hosepipe ban in Northern Ireland since 1995.[28] Other water companies also had supply problems, such as United Utilities, with 500 million litres (110 million imperial gallons) more than usual being used on 1 July.[2] On 5 July in the Republic of Ireland a state of absolute drought was declared because there had been no rainfall at 96% of its weather stations in the previous two weeks.[29] On 6 July, the first nationwide hosepipe ban in the republic's history was imposed.[30] On 19 July, the Northern Ireland ban was lifted.[31]

Crop failures[edit]

The heat wave has affected many crops, and there is concern for the wheat and barley harvests. Cases include wheat dying of drought before it could set seed, and withering of grass intended for livestock grazing, so that dairy cattle had to be grazed on land intended to grow hay or silage for winter feed for the cows.[32] By July, president of the National Farmers Union Guy Smith described the crops as "being parched to the bone". Smith further discussed the risk posed by depleted reservoirs that would normally be used for irrigation, and stated that there was a potential risk to vegetable production should the weather continue.[33] Forecasts on the impact of crops suggest a fall of between 10% and 15% for wheat and other cereals.

Sporting events[edit]

A number of sporting events have experienced unusual conditions as a result of the heatwave. The 2018 Open Championship which was held from 19–22 July at Carnoustie, Scotland was played with unusually brown, dry and sunbaked fairways and brown rough.[34] The India cricket team toured England during the heat wave, with their tour match against Essex being reduced from four days to three because of the high temperatures.[35]

Archaeological discoveries[edit]

The dry weather caused patterns of vegetation to be revealed, indicative of Roman and pre-Roman settlements.[36] Drainage ditches that had surrounded Iron Age hill forts and Roman settlements became filled in once those settlements were no longer in use, meaning they have a deeper quantity of topsoil and, thus, retain moisture for plants for longer.[36] The use of aerial images to identify archæological sites through cropmarks has been a methodology employed by archaeologists for decades.[37] The National Monuments Service of the Irish Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said that the increased use of aerial drone photography and the exceptional dry weather was leading to some remarkable discoveries.[37]

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales observed such indications of historical settlements across Wales,[36] including at Castell Llwyn Gwinau in Tregaron, Ceredigion, at the Cross Oak Hillfort near Talybont-on-Usk, at Caerwent, Monmouthshire and newly-discovered settlements near Magor, Monmouthshire and Langstone, Newport.[36]

Similarly, the National Monuments Service of the Irish Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht announced the discovery of a possible henge, 200-metre (660 ft) in diameter, near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, near Newgrange, County Meath.[37]

Statistics[edit]

Rainfall[edit]

The drought conditions are not as bad as the mid 1970s drought.[38][39] June was notably dry, especially after a very dry May. The worst affected regions were England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland also had below average rainfall, but this was unexceptional. Some places had no rain at all.[40]

Temperature[edit]

June[edit]

In Wales and Northern Ireland, June 2018 was the warmest June ever recorded and in England and Scotland, June 2018 ranks within the top 5 warmest on record.[40] In the Central England region, the CET is a long running temperature series, with records back to 1659. 2018's temperature was 16.1 °C (61.0 °F), meaning it ranks as the 18th warmest June recorded in England in the past 359 years, also being the warmest since 1976.[41]

July[edit]

July 2018 was again, a very hot month, with the Central England Temperature showing that July 2018 is the 4th hottest month ever recorded since 1659.[42][43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44976591
  2. ^ a b c "UK weather: Heatwave to continue for another two weeks". BBC News. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  3. ^ "Saddleworth Moor fire: Homes evacuated as blaze continues to rage". BBC News. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2018. 
  4. ^ "Winter Hill: Crews battle 'aggressive' merged moorland fire". BBC News. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2018. 
  5. ^ "Warmer weather could last until October, Met Office says". BBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  6. ^ "Hottest April day in UK since 1949". 19 April 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2018 – via BBC NEWS. 
  7. ^ "London Marathon hottest on record". 22 April 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2018 – via BBC NEWS. 
  8. ^ Grierson, Jamie (7 May 2018). "Early May bank holiday weather breaks temperature record". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  9. ^ "May 2018". Met Office. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  10. ^ "Potentially record-breaking May tops up an average spring". Met Office. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  11. ^ "UK heat record broken again in Wales". BBC NEWS. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  12. ^ Charlotte Cox (27 June 2018). "Everything we know about the Saddleworth Moor fire so far". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  13. ^ "Heat records set as Northern Hemisphere sizzles". The Straits Times. 6 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018. 
  14. ^ a b Jason Samenow (5 July 2018). "Red-hot planet: All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 July 2018. 
  15. ^ Clive Cookson (5 July 2018). "Extreme heat sets records across the northern hemisphere". Financial Times. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  16. ^ BBC TV 1 News, 6 pm to 7 pm, 5 July 2018
  17. ^ "Man gets stuck in melted tarmac". BBC News Online. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  18. ^ "Bin lorry sinks into town centre road". BBC News Online. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  19. ^ "UK weather: Heatwave could send temperatures soaring higher than 35C as Britons urged to stay indoors". 
  20. ^ The Week, 12 July 2018, "Mediterranean temperatures lead to an increase in 'staycations' – and a surge in foreign visits".
  21. ^ "Sharp decline in Ibiza tourism this summer forces hotels to slash prices", Mixmag, 11 July 2018.
  22. ^ News Highland radio, "Staycations boost Irish tourism this summer", 12 July 2018.
  23. ^ Horticulture Week, "How is the hot, dry weather affecting UK fresh-produce growers, 5 July 2018.
  24. ^ Regular heatwaves 'will kill thousands BBC
  25. ^ Heat-related deaths will treble by 2050 unless government takes urgent action, warn MPs 'The Independent
  26. ^ UK heatwave creating summer crisis for NHS, says Labour The Guardian
  27. ^ Unions say action needed to protect UK workers in heatwave The Guardian
  28. ^ "Hosepipe ban introduced amid heatwave". BBC News Online. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  29. ^ Conor Gallagher (5 July 2018). "Ireland in state of 'absolute drought' as heatwave continues". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 July 2018. 
  30. ^ "Irish Water confirms nationwide hosepipe ban from Friday". Belfast Telegraph. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  31. ^ "NI Water lifts hosepipe ban after almost three weeks". BBC News. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018. 
  32. ^ BBC TV 1 News, 6 pm to 7 pm, 4 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Met Office advice to stay out of sun". 23 July 2018 – via BBC NEWS. 
  34. ^ "Carnoustie Presents a Fast, Brown Look for British Open". New York Times. 15 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018. 
  35. ^ "India opt for three-day warm-up due to UK heat wave". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  36. ^ a b c d "Heatwave unveils ancient settlements in Wales". BBC News Online. 7 July 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018. 
  37. ^ a b c "Possible Meath archaeological discovery described as 'very significant'". RTÉ. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018. 
  38. ^ "Cold, wet spring conspires against farmers – Farmers Weekly". fwi.co.uk. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  39. ^ Office, Met. "UK climate". www.metoffice.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  40. ^ a b "Record breaking June". Met Office. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  41. ^ "Data". www.metoffice.gov.uk. 
  42. ^ "Mean Central England Temperature, 2018". The Met Office. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 
  43. ^ "mean CET ranked coldest to warmest from 1659 to 2018". The Met Office. Retrieved 31 July 2018. 

External links[edit]