Record hot to record cold in a July of extremes

3 08 2015

While this year’s July may not have broken any monthly records – it was book-ended with some localised daily records at both extremes of the temperature spectrum.

The month started with the highest recorded July temperature in our UK climate records with 36.7C recorded at Heathrow on 1 July.

Then on the last day of the month, we saw the opposite extreme – with a number of stations across the UK breaking their lowest recorded July temperature.

Some of these stations have fairly long records – below we’ve highlighted those stations which broke their July low record which have observations going back for 30 years or more.

ALICE HOLT LODGE Surrey 3.9 03/07/1984 64 3.5
KEELE Staffordshire 5.2 16/07/2001 63 5
EXETER AIRPORT Devon 3.3 01/07/2011 50 2
CHIVENOR Devon 5.7 07/07/1996 38 5.6
PERSHORE Worcestershire 3 04/07/1965 36 2.7

These temperatures came about after several days of a northerly airflow which brought colder than average air over the UK. Clear skies allowed temperatures to drop rapidly overnight across many spots, leading to some of the localised records.

None of these new station records came close to breaking the all-time UK record for July of -2.5C which was set at both St Harmon (Powys) on 9 July 1986 and Lagganlia (Inverness-shire) on 15 July 1977. It’s worth noting here that lowest daily temperature records exclude stations above 500 metres above mean sea-level.

Other extremes for July 2015 are:

  • The wettest day was recorded at Cambridge Botanic Garden on the 16th, with 87.1mm of rain recorded in 24 hours. This is significantly more than the whole-month average for July at that station, which is 50.7mm.
  • The strongest gust was recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight on the 26th, with 60mph.
  • The Sunniest day was on Fair Isle, Shetland, on the 26th, with 16 hours of sunshine recorded.
  • The coldest temperature recorded during the month was a chilly -0.6C at Katesbridge in Down, Northern Ireland on 15 July – although this wasn’t a record for that station.
  • The warmest temperature was 36.7C recorded at Heathrow on 1 July – you can read more about that on our blog.

Are we set for record July rainfall?

27 07 2015

While July has seen a good deal of dry and bright weather, we’ve also seen a few periods of heavy rainfall.

Whether through intense thundery downpours or prolonged periods of rain such as seen in southern parts of the UK on Friday last week, these events have dramatically pushed up the rainfall totals for the month.

This has led to speculation about whether this July could be on course to be the wettest on record. However, a quick look at the statistics shows that while it has certainly been wet, we’re unlikely to break any national records this month.

Provisional rainfall statistics for July 2015 so far suggest that with 5 days of the month remaining much of the country has already received close to or above average rainfall for the month – but we’re some way off breaking the records for each country.

Table showing rainfall figures so far this month compared to average and the records:

Rainfall 1-26 Jul 2015 Current record July 1981 – 2010 average
UK 93 mm 146 mm (2009) 78 mm
England 70 mm 129 mm (2009) 63 mm
Scotland 128 mm 186 mm (1940) 100 mm
Wales 102 mm 241 mm (1939) 93 mm
Northern Ireland 95 mm 186 mm (1936) 81 mm

The wettest regions compared to average have so far this month been eastern Scotland, East Anglia and the south west of England. If records are going to be broken they will most likely be localised rather than national records.

Even those regional records are far from a sure thing. The weather is generally improving for most parts of the country and high pressure, bringing more settled conditions, is expected to build towards the back end of the week.

This means the last few days of this month are unlikely to add big rainfall numbers to the totals we have so far.

Map showing 1-26 July 2015 rainfall compared to the 1981-2010 average. Most places have received their full-month average (shown in white), while the darker blue areas have seen significantly more than average already.

Map showing 1-26 July 2015 rainfall compared to the 1981-2010 average. Most places have received their full-month average (shown in white), while the darker blue areas have seen significantly more than average already.

Early July sees big rainfall contrasts

20 07 2015

After a hot and humid start to the month, when record daily maximum temperatures were recorded at several stations across the country on 1 July, it has been a fairly average month so far for the UK as a whole. However, on a regional scale there are some contrasts.

Using figures up to 15 July, mean temperatures have been close to or above average, with counties in eastern and southeastern England highest relative to average.

Meanwhile, for rainfall there are more notable variations, with eastern parts of England having received around or less than half the amount of rainfall that would be expected by mid-month. For example, Surrey and Sussex have both recorded less than 20% of the month’s average rainfall with 7.8mm and 9.9mm respectively. By the 15th of the month you would normally expect around 48% of the whole-month average.

This is in comparison with parts of Eastern Scotland where some places have already recorded more rainfall than the whole-July average. Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire have already seen rainfall in excess of July’s average at 79mm and 106.6mm.

After the hot, sunny start to the month there have been periods of unsettled weather, with weather systems arriving from the Atlantic bringing rain or showers at times. This has been interspersed with drier, sunny spells.

With west or southwesterly winds dominating, there have been some rather cloudy days in the south, leading to mild nights.

The table below shows figures for the 1-15 July. You would normally expect about 48% of the full-month average for sunshine and rainfall at this point in the month.

Mean temperature Sunshine duration Rainfall
1-15 July
Act (°C) Diff from avg (°C) Act (hrs) % of avg Act (mm) % of avg
UK 15.5 0.4 88.0 51 46.9 60
England 17.0 0.7 103.7 54 30.5 49
Wales 15.4 0.2 89.2 50 56.4 61
Scotland 13.3 0.0 66.8 47 71.9 72
N Ireland 14.2 -0.4 57.7 41 45.9 57


July makes eight warm months in a row

1 08 2014

This July was the eighth month in a row which has seen warmer than average temperatures for the UK. It was both sunnier and warmer than average, but not as much as July last year, according to provisional full-month statistics from the Met Office.

Figures for the whole month show that the UK mean temperature was 16.3C, which is 1.2C above the long term (1981-2010) average.

This ranks it as the 8th warmest July in our national records, joint with 1933. It’s worth noting that last July was warmer (17.0C, ranked 3rd), and this year is well short of the record warmest July of 2006 (17.8C).

Sunshine hours for the UK totalled 228.7 hours, which makes this the 6th sunniest July in records from 1929 – but, again, it’s not as sunny as last year’s July (248.7 hours, ranked 3rd), and is well off the record set in 1955 of 256.0 hours.

Rainfall was also below average, with this month’s UK total of 64.1 mm making 82% of the ‘normal’ amount we’d expect for the month. It was the driest July since 2006, marginally drier than last July, but there are many drier Julys in the records.

The rainfall patterns have been variable, with some parts of the country, such as the South West of England and west Wales, being much drier than average while others, such as parts of the South East, being much wetter.

Much of the rain has been from intense thundery downpours. On 20th July, Norwich Airport recorded 45.8mm in one hour, three-quarters of the ‘normal’ amount for the whole month.

Here are some other top weather facts from this July:

  • Highest temperature: 32.3C at Gravesend, Kent on the 18th
  • Lowest temperature: 1.2C at Braemar, Aberdeenshire on the 6th
  • Wettest day (midnight to midnight): 46mm at Northolt, Greater London on the 28th
  • Sunniest day: 16.1 hours at Glasgow, on the 9th
  • Strongest gust: 58mph at Warcop, Cumbria on the 18th

You can explore figures and statistics about the UK climate, including our national records dating back to 1910, on our climate pages.

The table below shows the provisional full month figures for July:

  Temperature (C) Sunshine (hours) Rainfall (mm)
July Provisional Actual Diff from avg Actual % of avg Actual % of avg
UK 16.3 1.2 228.7 133 64.1 82
England 17.6 1.3 251.1 130 53.1 85
Wales 16.2 1.0 238.6 133 53.7 58
Scotland 14.4 1.2 200.0 142 85.4 86
N Ireland 15.7 1.1 166.0 118 61.1 75

July 2014 in top ten warmest and sunniest

30 07 2014

This July is set to finish amongst the top ten warmest and sunniest in records dating back to 1910, according to early Met Office statistics.

Figures from the 1st to the 28th of the month show temperatures are slightly higher than normal, with a UK mean of 16.3C which is 1.2C above the 1981-2010 average.

If the month were to finish like that, it would be the joint 8th warmest in the record dating back to 1910 – but is well short of the record-breaking 17.8C set in 2006.

UK map showing hours of sunshine from 1-28 July 2014 compared to the full-month 1981-2010 average.

UK map showing hours of sunshine from 1-28 July 2014 compared to the full-month 1981-2010 average.

Sunshine hours for the UK are well above average, with 210 hours so far – which is 122% of the average we’d expect for the whole month. This means it is currently ranked as the joint 10th sunniest July in the record, and it’s likely to climb higher once the final few days of the month are included.

However, this July is unlikely to break the record of 256 hours of sunshine set in 1955.

Rainfall has been below average for the UK – but not by a record-breaking amount. The UK has seen about 59mm so far, which is 76% of the full month average – you’d normally expect about 90% at this stage.

That means this month currently ranks as the 29th driest July on record – and it’s likely to move closer to the mid-table due to any rain in the final few days of the month.

South west England and southern parts of Wales have seen the least rain compared to usual, with 42.6mm for the region making up just 53% of the full-month average.

  Mean temperature Sunshine
1-28 July Actual (celsius) Diff from avg Actual (hrs) % of avg Actual (mm) % of avg
UK 16.3 1.2 210 122 59 76
England 17.6 1.3 228.1 118 51.7 83
Wales 16.2 1 219.4 123 47.9 52
Scotland 14.4 1.2 187.3 133 75.1 75
N Ireland 15.7 1.1 152.5 109 53.4 66

Thunderstorms bring intense rainfall to parts of England

28 07 2014

This morning has seen some intense downpours across parts of south east England.

They developed across parts of East Anglia in the early hours of the morning, with further areas of heavy showers across Sussex, Surrey, Kent and the south of London following later.

The showers were very heavy in places with thunderstorms, hail, and torrential rain reported, giving high rainfall totals and localised flooding in some areas.

The high rainfall totals were caused by an area of low pressure and a plume of warm air that moved in from the near continent accompanied by light winds, meaning that the showers were slow moving.

Several spots have seen more than half of their average monthly rainfall for the whole of July in just one hour.

Below you can see some of the highest recorded hourly rainfall totals from Environment Agency rain gauges through the morning of Monday 28th July 2014:

Great Dunmow Essex 43 mm (4am to 5am)
Isfield Sussex 37 mm (8.30am to 9:30am)
Ardingly Sussex 35 mm (8.30am to 9:30am)
Santon Downham Suffolk 33mm (4am to 5am)
Weirwood Sussex 28 mm (9am to 10am)
Northolt London 20mm (7am to 8am)


The band of showery rain is now easing, but a yellow warning for rainfall remains in place for the south east of the UK as the risk of seeing some further isolated downpours remains.

In addition, the far south east of England could see further persistent and perhaps locally heavy rain later today and overnight, with parts of Kent and Sussex most at risk. Conditions across all areas should then improve through tomorrow.

July finishes in top three sunniest and warmest

2 08 2013

Met Office figures show that, with a mean temperature of 17 °C, July 2013 was the third warmest in the national record going back to 1910, behind 2006 (17.8 °C) and 1983 (17.3 °C).

This July’s heatwave was more notable for its duration than its intensity, although it is not particularly unusual in a historical context. The last year in which 30 °C was not recorded at any station was in 1993. However, this July stands out in contrast to the run of unsettled summers from 2007 to 2012, and was the most significant UK heatwave since July 2006.

Through the month we saw high pressure sitting over the UK bringing a prolonged period of high temperatures between Saturday 6 July and Thursday 24 July, when a maximum of 28 °C was recorded at one or more locations on each of those 19 days.

The last time the UK saw such a long period of hot weather was August 1997 which also had a 19- day run of high temperatures. The highest temperature for July 2013 was recorded jointly at Heathrow and Northolt on 22 July (33.5 °C). (Although this high temperature has already been surpassed in August, with 34.1 °C recorded at Heathrow on 1 August.

July 2006 still stands as the hottest month on record in the UK with a mean temperature of 17.8 °C and also saw the record July temperature of 36.5 °C at Wisley (19 July 2006).

The heatwave broke on 22 July with thunder and some very heavy downpours. The wettest day in July was in Cumbria, when 79.8mm of rain fell at Carlisle on 28 July (97.4 mm on a 48 hour rainfall total between 0900 GMT 27 July to GMT 29 July 2013).

Looking at the individual countries, the hottest day in Scotland was on 20 July (30.5 °C) at Glenlee, with Castlederg in Northern Ireland and Porthmadog in Wales recording their highest temperatures on 19 July (30.1 °C and 31.4 °C respectively). England’s hottest day was also the aforementioned UK’s hottest day (33.5 °C on 22 July Heathrow and Northolt).

July’s UK rainfall total was 64mm, with Scotland receiving near normal levels at 83.1 mm and the whole of England drier than average at 52.3 mm (but with Northern England registering above average rainfall with 75.8 mm and Southern England below average at 39.8 mm). Wales (58.0 mm) and Northern Ireland (78.2 mm) were slightly drier than average.


Mean Temperature Sunshine hours Rainfall  
July Actual Diff from Avg Actual % of Avg Actual % of Avg
  degC degC hours % mm %
UK 17.0 1.9 250.7 145 64.1 82
England 18.1 1.8 274.1 142 52.3 83
Wales 17.2 2.0 288.9 161 58.0 63
Scotland 15.2 1.9 205.8 146 83.1 84
N Ireland 17.0 2.4 227.3 162 78.2 96

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.

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.

The jet stream and why it’s too early to write-off summer

13 05 2013

There have been one or two stories in the press today saying we’re in for another washout summer, which would rightly inspire collective misery across the country.

However, it’s a far too early to be writing off any chance of a decent summer season – after all, it doesn’t officially start (for us meteorologists) for more than two weeks (on 1 June).

It appears the news stories are borne out of the current position of the jet stream, a band of fast moving westerly winds high up in the atmosphere. But why is this important?

A quick Jet stream explainer

The jet stream tends to guide the generally wet and windy weather systems which come in off the Atlantic. So, if it’s over us or just to the south, we tend to get a lot of wet and windy weather – which is what we expect through winter.

If the jet is to the north of us, it guides that changeable weather to the north to give us more settled conditions – which is what we expect in the summer.

(You can read a bit more about the jet stream, how it impacted our weather last year, and any potential connections to climate change in a blog story we wrote last year).

What’s going on now?

Right now the jet stream is sitting to the south of the country and it is influencing the unsettled weather we are seeing at the moment.

Forecast chart showing position of the jet stream at midday on 13 May 2013

Forecast chart showing position of the jet stream at midday on 13 May 2013

It’s fair to say that this is roughly the position it was in for extended periods during the exceptionally wet weather that we saw last year, particularly in June.

Crucially, however, the jet stream does move around quite a bit and it can change its track significantly in just a few days. So the current position of the jet stream does not mean that it’s stuck in that position.

Looking ahead

Much like our weather, it’s a huge challenge to predict the exact track of the jet stream more than five or six days ahead, so there’s still a great deal to play for in the outlook for our summer.

In short, it’s far too early to write-off summer 2013 based on the current position of the jet stream.

To get the best information on what to expect you can see the latest detailed forecasts out to 5-days on our website, as well as a general view of what we expect out to 30 days.

You can find out more about the jet stream in our YouTube video.


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