If you like the blistering heat, it's still worth listening to expert advice!
PUBLISHED: 06:23 26 July 2018
During a week like this, I really couldn't resist a further comment on the extraordinary summer we have been "enjoying" as the Summer of 1976 has given us a full re-run.
As anyone who read my piece earlier this week will know, I’m not actually a fan of this seemingly non-stop heatwave. I’m a typical fair Englishman when it comes to this heat. I burn easily and three or four days of 25C is quite enough for me at a time!
Much has already been written about the heatwave – and some have linked it to global warming. I’m not sure that trying to see individual weather events through the prism of global warming.
When the global statistics for this year are considered in early 2019 and are added to other long-term trends, then there may be something to learn – but we should not jump to immediate conclusions.
What we do need to do now is to look at this weather in the context of the year as a whole and try to look at ways of dealing with it.
We are lucky, at least in this part of the world, that the summer of 2018 has differed from the summer of 1976 in one important aspect.
In 1976, the summer followed more than 12 months of below-average rainfall. Water stocks (and Alton Water was only just starting to be built) were low at the start of the summer and we had very serious restrictions.
This years’s summer follows a reasonably-wet winter. Anglia Water and other local companies have no real fears of water restrictions (and people seem to have got the message that they should try to use water responsibly).
But the heat and the powerful sun is dangerous to vulnerable people – and can cause health problems, both short and long-term, to people who don’t take advice about how to deal with it.
What really shocked me this week was that some rent-a-mouth MPs and tourist chiefs felt there was something wrong with health experts warning people about the dangers of going out in the blistering mid-day sun this year.
Well, Messrs Loughton and Rees-Mogg, I’ve got news for you. Residents and visitors to Worthing and North East Somerset are just as able to get melanoma (serious skin cancer) or sun-stroke as the next person.
I’ve been for two or three walks in Felixstowe during the heatwave. It’s wonderful – and I’ve found great new places to have lunch or a cold drink there. But I’ve tried to avoid the middle of the day and I’ve covered up.
How dare these MPs suggest that people’s health doesn’t matter if it leads to fewer people strolling along the prom in their constituencies?
And while we might not like the weather, we do have to learn to cope with it and take expert advice while it lasts. There’s no point in getting angry with the weather per se – we have to be prepared to sit in the garden in the early morning or late afternoon, not in the heat of the day.
Weather forecasters expect this to continue to remain during most, if not all, of August – although I really hope we don’t see too many more 30C+ days!
No one is yet predicting the kind of sustained deluge we had in September and October 1976 – but that is certainly possible and would be bad news for one industry that had really enjoyed the summer, English vineyards.
When we come back to look at the summer of 2018 in years ahead, I suspect it will be with rose-tinted glasses to some extent. Certainly that is what has happened for us survivors of 1976!
I’ve told my (now grown-up) children and younger colleagues about how wonderful it was – but it’s taken the arrival of the summer of 2018 to remind me of all the downsides, even for a teenager!
I’m not sure that in future years there will be a great deal that we will have learned from the Summer of 2018 – but I do have one final thought.
What a pity it took so long for all the bureaucracy to go through before the restoration of Broomhill was finally agreed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and all the other partners!
In a couple of years’ time this will be a great new facility for the town in the summer. But how do we know that won’t be a more typical year with a few sunny days and drizzle?
Can you imagine what a magnet a newly-reopened Broomhill would have been this year? Ah well, maybe we can hope for another long hot summer in the not-too-distant future after all!