As we are all aware this summer has been hot and dry so far and there has been much speculation comparing the season so far to record-breaking summers of the past.
But has it been as hot and dry as we think?
As we reach the midpoint of the meteorological summer (June, July and August) we take a look back at the weather statistics and see how 2018 compares so far.
As a whole, the UK has received just 47 mm of rain so far this summer (1 June – 16 July), making it the driest start to summer in modern records which date back to 1961, closely followed by 2013 with 59 mm of rain. However in 2013 although the first half of summer was very dry an outbreak of thunderstorms and a few very wet days in late July changed things for many leaving the summer of 2013 as a whole the 14th driest on records (dating back to 1910).
So what would happen if the rest of this summer were average? Well if rainfall was average for the next month and a half by the end of August, we would be up to 174 mm, which would just sneak into the top 10 driest summers of all time.
Figures from 1 June 2018 to 16 July 2018 compared against the full summer averages (June-July-August)
|Regions||max act||max anom||sun act||sun anom||precip act||precip anom|
|N Eng||21.1C||2.3C||397 hrs||78%||40.6mm||17.9%|
|S Eng||23.2C||2.4C||429 hrs||73%||10.8mm||6.1%|
|N Scot||17.3C||1.9C||294 hrs||76%||90.5mm||28.8%|
|E Scot||18.9C||2.1C||335 hrs||75%||71.8mm||28.7%|
|W Scot||19.4C||2.6C||367 hrs||81%||114.6mm||32.6%|
Taking the summer as a whole (June, July and August) across the UK, 1995 is the driest on record (dating back to 1910) with a total rainfall over the full three months of 103 mm.
Rainfall in June was below average across England with only 15 mm, just a quarter of the average rainfall for the month, with the lowest rainfall in the south east, making it the third driest June on record for England (since 1910) and the driest June since 1925.
Paul Hickey, head of water resources, Environment Agency, said: “Over two very dry months, we have seen a rapid decline in reservoir levels in the North West and we support the announcement by United Utilities to manage water supplies by introducing household restrictions.
“Across the rest of England, most groundwater supplies are at healthy levels and water companies have enough water to maintain supplies if resources are managed properly.
“Many rivers around the country have dropped to lower levels than normal for this time of year, which can be damaging to wildlife. We have robust plans in place to respond to these pressures and have stepped up our incident response as well as regulation of those abstracting water to ensure the environment is protected.
“We are meeting with affected groups including farmers to provide practical advice about conserving water and planning for prolonged dry weather. We encourage everyone to use water wisely to conserve supplies and protect the environment.”
Many people’s visions of 1976 are of the drought and stand pipes in the street but it’s important to remember 1976 came after a previous sunny summer of ’75 and also a very dry 12-month period.
The temperatures so far this summer have also been remarkable. So far (1 June to 16 July), the average daily maximum temperature across the country is 20.9 °C. The average daily maximum in the hottest summer on record, 1976, was 21.0 °C. If the rest of the summer is average, 2018 will certainly rank in the top 10 warmest summers on record and if we continue to see above average temperatures, it could well be record breaking.
1976 was also the sunniest summer on record with 669 hours. So far we’ve had 385 hours of sunshine on average across the UK this summer, however, statistically there are fewer sunshine hours in the second half of summer as the days are getting shorter. If the rest of the summer was average, we would still be in the top five sunniest summers on record.
It is important to remember we are only half way through the season and a lot can change.
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