Warm air to bring short hot spell

31 07 2013

Temperatures are forecast to exceed 30 °C tomorrow in some areas with a heat health warning in place for parts of the south east. However, these high temperatures are expected to be short lived with temperatures dropping by a few degrees again over the weekend.


Why are we only seeing one day of high temperatures?

The brief warmer weather is due to hot air being drawn north from the Spanish plateau to the British Isles. Shortly after, Atlantic air coming in from the west brings a return to average conditions for the time of year.

The surface pressure charts below show the warm air being drawn up, followed by the cold front moving in from the west.


Watch our video for help understanding synoptic charts.

Rainfall figures for the weekend

29 07 2013

With thundery showers bringing heavy rain, some areas saw high rainfall totals over the weekend. The wettest was Carlisle, in Cumbria, which saw 97.4 mm of rain over the last 48 hours.

48 hour rainfall totals (0900 GMT 27 July to 0900 GMT 29 July 2013)

Site Name Area Rain (mm)
Carlisle Cumbria 97.4
Keswick Cumbria 77.2
Shap Cumbria 66.8
Market Bosworth, Bosworth Park Leicestershire 65.2
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 58
Rochdale Greater Manchester 55.6
Ravensworth North Yorkshire 54.2
Blencathra Cumbria 51
Keele Staffordshire 48.4
Newton Rigg Cumbria 46.6

Carlisle also made it into the top ten wettest days of the year so far, with 79.8 mm on Sunday alone, however it’s still some way behind Plockton, which saw 108 mm on the 5th May earlier this year.

Top ten wettest days in 2013 so far

Site Area Date  Rain (mm)
Plockton Ross & Cromarty 05/05/2013  108
Strathallan School Perthshire (In Tayside Region) 07/05/2013  100
Holne, Priddons Farm Devon 22/03/2013  84.6
Carlisle Cumbria 28/07/2013  79.8
Pembrey Sands Dyfed 15/05/2013  72
Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog Clwyd 15/05/2013 69.6
Achfary Sutherland 14/05/2013 67.8
Market Bosworth, Bosworth Park Leicestershire 28/07/2013 65.2
Dinorwic Gwynedd 14/04/2013 65.2
Achnagart Ross & Cromarty 03/05/2013 64.2

Despite the dry start to the month, this rainfall means this July is unlikely to set any records for being dry.

Weather on the 27 July

27 07 2013

Today marks a year since the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, so to celebrate a year since the Games, we’ve taken a look back at the weather on 27 July.

The Met Office holds the UK’s weather and climate records, and we’ve created this infographic with daily weather statistics from the last 5o years.

Weather on the 27 July

View larger version (PDF).

Find out what weather is in store this year at London Anniversary Games on our website.

Guest blog: Stay safe this summer with Norfolk’s firefighters

19 07 2013

With summer finally making an appearance Norfolk’s firefighters are offering some timely safety advice.

Every year fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside, forestry and other wildlife habitats across the country. Some fires are started deliberately, but most could easily be prevented by following some simple safety advice.

Roy Harold, Deputy Chief Fire Officer at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “After something of a slow start to the summer to say the least we will all no doubt want to make the most of the sunshine. Norfolk Fire and Rescue has a few simple tips for making sure you and your family stay safe this summer whatever you are planning, be it a barbecue or a boat trip.”

As well as issuing general safety advice about being careful with matches, barbecues and discarded cigarettes fire officers are asking people to please be aware of the following:

  • One of the biggest dangers is people using flammable liquids to light the barbecue. Please prepare well in advance and light the charcoal early.
  • Don’t have a bonfire of any size during a sustained dry period. This is particularly important in rural areas.
  • If you see a fire please ring 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service even for a small fire, it can very soon become a big fire and get out of control.
  • We may be very busy but we are never too busy to answer your call.
  • For anyone working on the land it is essential to have at least one fire extinguisher on your vehicle, preferably water. If possible have a water browser, slurry tanker or sprayer nearby when harvesting or baling.
  • Do not fill your fuel tank completely full during hot weather. Fuel must have room to expand.
  • Anyone planning to use fireworks/Chinese lanterns is asked to exercise caution as a stray firework/lantern is an obvious hazard.

Firefighters are also reminding people to follow the safety advice printed on all barbecues especially disposable ones, following a number of tragic fatal incidents in the UK in the last year.

Mr Harold said: “Our key message is to never take a lit or smouldering barbecue into a tent or caravan awning. Even a smouldering barbecue can give off deadly carbon monoxide for many hours after it’s been used.”

For further fire safety information including Out and About, Fire Safety on Boats, Fire Safety Outside, Camping and Outdoors, Barbecue Safety and Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer please visit us at www.norfolkfireservice.co.uk or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.


July starts dry, sunny and warm

17 07 2013

Early Met Office figures for the first half of July show that it has been warmer, drier and sunnier than usual so far this month.

We’ve now had 11 days with temperatures over 28 °C somewhere in the UK, making it the longest hot spell since 2006.

The UK mean temperature up to the 15th July is 16.1 °C, a degree above the long term average for the whole of the month. The days have been particularly warm so far, with the average maximum temperature for the UK being 21.3 °C, 2 degrees above normal.

Rainfall for the UK from 1-15 July was 9.2 mm. At this stage we would expect to have seen about 48 % of the full month average, however we have only seen 12 %. We have seen less than 5 mm widely across much of England and parts of eastern Scotland (many locations with only 1 or 2 mm).

Up to the 15th we have seen 132 hours of sunshine across the UK, which is 77 % of the full month average. Again, we would have expected to have seen about 48% at this point in an ‘average’ month.

Looking at the individual countries, Scotland’s mean temperature has been 14.4 °C (1.2 °C above average) and Northern Ireland’s has been 16.3 °C (1.7 °C above average). England’s has been 17.0 °C (0.7 °C above average), and Wales’ has been 16.3 °C (1.1 °C above average).

Wales had the most sunshine with 155 hours, which is 86 % of the full-month long-term average.

England has seen the least rainfall for the first half of the month with 4.0 mm, just 6 % of the long term July average. Scotland has seen the most rain with 16.8 mm, but even that is only 17 % of the full-month average.

To put this in context, the driest July on record across the UK was in 1955 when there was 30.6 mm of rain. With only 9 mm of rain so far in the UK this July, this is likely to be a very dry month but – with two weeks to go – it’s too early to say where it will end up in the national series dating back to 1910.

For the longer running England and Wales precipitation record which dates back to 1766, the record driest July was in 1825 with just 8 mm of rain. England and Wales have seen just 4 mm so far this month, but – again – it’s too early to judge where it will end up in the records.

With regards to sunshine hours, 1955 is the sunniest July on record with 256 hours of sunshine, with 2006 close behind with 253 hours.

The warmest July on record is 2006 with a UK mean temperature of 17.8 °C; this is also the warmest month in the national record which goes back to 1910.

Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
1-15 July Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 16.1 1 132.1 77 9.2 12
England 17 0.7 147.2 76 4 6
Wales 16.3 1.1 154.7 86 8.7 9
Scotland 14.4 1.2 104.1 74 16.8 17
N Ireland 16.3 1.7 114 81 15.7 19

The reason behind this very warm weather is an area of high pressure which has been sitting right above the UK since the start of the month.

This dry weather is in sharp contrast to last year’s wet weather and follows on from a dry June this year.

The Environment Agency measures water resources in England every week to assess how dry the soils are and how much rain they can soak up, the amount of water flowing in rivers, stored below ground in aquifers and above ground in reservoirs, and the outlook for the coming months.

Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency, said: “Last year’s exceptionally wet summer and autumn has left us in a fairly good water resources position, with most rivers, reservoirs and underground water stores around normal for the time of year. Some river levels are dropping as a result of the hot, dry spell that we are enjoying, and we would urge everyone to continue use water wisely, to protect water supplies and the environment.”

More information can be found in their latest water situation report.

St Swithin’s day – fact or meteorological myth?

15 07 2013

Recently we have all been enjoying a run of prolonged, fine dry weather across much of the country. Today may be St Swithin’s day but for most of us, despite a rather cloudy and misty start across some parts, this has cleared to give many a dry and bright day. The only risk of rain is in north western Scotland and Stornaway.

So does that mean these few Scottish raindrops could mean the famed rhyme attributed to St Swithin’s day could come true?

St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t’will rain no more

It may sound convincing but when you take a look at the statistical archives here at the Met Office, it just doesn’t “wash”.

St Swithin was a monk who died around 862 AD and, according to legend, he requested his burial in the churchyard of the Old Minster (cathedral) at Winchester, in a spot where “the sweet rain from heaven might wet his grave.”

The legend says that when his remains were moved inside the cathedral on the 15th of July, his spirit was supposedly so outraged that it rained for the next forty days.

Unfortunately the weather rhyme which stemmed from this legend just doesn’t stack up. Since the start of records in 1861, there has never been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days in a row following St Swithin’s Day.

So you can’t make a 40-day forecast out of a rhyme and today’s weather. However, if you’d like a forecast out to 30-days, you can check out the forecasts on our website.

We can even give you a host of tips and suggestions on what to do, rain or shine throughout the summer, on our dedicated Get Ready for Summer pages.

Weather for the royal baby

15 07 2013


Historical weather information provided by the National Meteorological Library. For more information on the weather on the day of William and Kate’s wedding, have a look at our royal wedding factsheet.

Very high levels of grass pollen forecast across much of UK

12 07 2013

As the hot period of weather continues across most of the UK, very high levels of grass pollen are forecast.

One in five people suffer from hay fever across the nation. The Met Office pollen forecast shows most parts of the country will see either high or very high pollen counts.

The east and south east of England, London, the Midlands plus Wales will see some of the highest grass pollen levels during this period, but elsewhere the risk should gradually decrease.

The only exception to this is in Orkney and Shetland where the counts will be moderate. Any local rainfall should help to reduce discomfort.

Benadryl® sponsors the Met Office’s pollen forecast, drawing on our latest weather forecast information. By combining this with UK pollen readings, detailed forecasts are prepared and linked to locations across the country. Visit the Met Office website for an easy-to-view pollen forecast in your region.

The pollen season is split into three main phases with the grass pollen season lasting from mid May through to Aug. Our pollen calendar has a detailed breakdown of the different types of pollen and their peak times within the season.


First ‘Heat-Health’ alert of the summer

12 07 2013

Parts of England have been put on Heat-Health alert as the hot temperatures continue into the weekend.


Temperatures are expected to climb close to heatwave thresholds across the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber regions during Friday and Saturday, with highs of 29°C expected. The highest temperatures transfer southwards to affect East of England, Southeast England, London and parts of Southwest England during Saturday and Sunday. Saturday will see the hottest day of the year with temperatures reaching the low 30s in the south east.

The Heat-Health Watch system operates in England from 1 June to 15 September each year in association with the Department of Health.

The Heat-Health Watch system comprises four levels of response based upon threshold maximum daytime and minimum night-time temperatures. These thresholds vary by region, but an average threshold temperature is 30 °C by day and 15 °C overnight.

A Level 2 alert is triggered as soon as the risk is 60% or above for threshold temperatures being reached in one or more regions on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night. This is an important stage for social and healthcare services who will be working to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave.

Local authorities, professionals and community groups can prepare for hot weather by reviewing the Heatwave Plan on the PHE website.

Dr Angie Bone, Heatwave Plan lead for PHE, said: “While many people enjoy hot weather, high temperatures can be dangerous, especially for people who may be particularly vulnerable such as older people, young children and those with serious illnesses.

“The Heatwave Plan is an important component of overall emergency planning and sets out a series of clear actions that can be taken by healthcare organisations, local authorities, professionals working with vulnerable people, and individuals to help keep people safe during extreme heat.
“Everyone can enjoy the sun safely by keeping out of the heat at the hottest time of the day, avoiding sunburn and staying hydrated with plenty of cool drinks. The elderly and those with long-term illnesses are particularly vulnerable to the effects of very hot weather, so it’s important to look out for them and keep indoor areas as cool as possible.”

Visit gov.uk for more information on the PHE Heatwave Plan.

For tips on staying safe in the sun, visit our Great British Summer web pages.

The Spectator: How accurate is the Met Office?

11 07 2013

In an article which appeared in the Spectator online today, Rupert Darwall makes a sustained attack on climate scientists and specifically on the Met Office.

His main point seems to be that the Met Office gets weather forecasts wrong. To answer that, you can see our accuracy figures online and these are regularly updated to reflect our recent performance.

At the time of writing this blog, the Met Office is beating all of its forecast accuracy targets. As an example, 87.7% of our next day maximum temperature forecasts are accurate to within 2C. The target is 80%.

The Met Office is consistently recognised by the World Meteorological Organization as one of the top two most accurate operational forecasters in the world.

No forecaster can be accurate 100% of the time and we don’t claim to be, but we are at the forefront of weather and climate science and are continuing our world class research to ensure the UK stays a leader in this field.

In the article, Rupert Darwell gives a few examples of forecast errors to back up his claims – these all refer to our long-range (three month) outlooks. This is a challenging area of forecasting and the Met Office has always been clear that these long-range forecasts are part of our ongoing research and development. We acknowledge that the public favour our short-range forecasts, which they download in their millions on iPhone, Android and now Kindle apps.

With time, continued research will hopefully yield similar improvements in our long-range outlooks as we have seen over time in our short-range forecasts. As an example of that progression, our four day forecast is as accurate today as our one day forecast was 30 years ago.

The article also talks about the Met Office ‘bracing’ the UK for a ‘decade of soggy summers’.

This is a misrepresentation of the science, as the statement refers to media reporting following a press conference hosted by the Met Office. The conference came at the end of a science workshop attended by experts from across UK academia to look at the potential causes behind the UK’s recent spell of unusual seasons.

During that press conference, scientists talked to the media about some of the latest research discussed at the meeting. This included research from the University of Reading which looked at long-term temperature patterns in the Atlantic which may impact weather patterns over Europe – potentially influencing a higher frequency of wet summers for a given period of time.

Scientists were clear to say this was early research and they were not issuing a forecast, but some parts of the media reported it that way. We issued a blog in reaction to this, to make clear that there was no expectation every summer would be wet for a decade – but The Spectator article makes the same claim again, despite all of this publicly available information to the contrary.

Apparently, “the Met Office has decided that global warming means colder summers in Britain”. This is news to the Met Office, which has been very careful to say that more research needs to be done to understand what impacts changes in our climate (such as reduced Arctic sea ice) could have on UK climate. Again, this seems to be a misinterpretation of our position.

The Met Office has already discussed the issue related to Doug Keenan, which you can also read about on our blog. You can also see a discussion paper we published on the issues he raises.

On global temperatures, you can look at our HadCRUT4 pages – which show 2010 and 2005 are respectively the first and second warmest years on record, with all the supporting data available online. You can also look at a report from the WMO released last week.

There are many other points to address in the lengthy Spectator article, too numerous to detail in this blog.

However, as a final point, Rupert Darwall says: “At the very least, the Met Office has a duty of care to the rest of us: to be balanced and objective, to admit when they’ve got it wrong, not to indulge in speculation and to tell us what they don’t know.”

The Met Office recognises this duty of care and takes it very seriously, which is why our impartial advice is based only on evidence from world class research. Our scientists have and will continue to report those findings as they are, without censorship, to enable people to make informed decisions.

The Met Office is very proud of its science and scientists. Indeed last year the Met Office published 267 peer reviewed scientific papers in academic journals and is widely recognised as one of the best geosciences institutes in the world.


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