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East Anglia's summer of 2018 set to rival 1976

PUBLISHED: 18:24 22 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:29 22 July 2018

Enjoying the River Deben during the summer of 1976 Picture: ARCHANT

Enjoying the River Deben during the summer of 1976 Picture: ARCHANT

Weather forecasters are now prepared to say that the long heatwave of 2018 is set to rival the legendary summer of 1976 - they are expecting it to stay dry, hot and sunny for at least the next four weeks.

Felixstowe prom is a great place for a walk in the heatwave - but avoid the middle of the day. Picture: GREGG BROWNFelixstowe prom is a great place for a walk in the heatwave - but avoid the middle of the day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

East Anglia-based Weatherquest’s Dan Holley replied to my Tweet lamenting the fact that my garden was looking like the Savannah saying: In general there is little change to the pattern for the next 4 weeks – like yesterday (Friday), there may be brief periods with some showers or thunderstorms in places, but much of the time it will stay very warm or hot with a lot of dry weather continuing.

That would mean the heatwave continuing throughout most, if not all, the school summer holidays.

Many families would love that – but I’m sure there are many people, like me, who are wishing for two days of solid, steady rain and more manageable temperatures.

However if we are looking a repeat of 42 years ago, there is little chance of that!

In 1976 the long, hot summer started at the end of May and continued until the end of August – it broke with thunderstorms over the late August Bank Holiday weekend.

I remember. As a 17-year-old at the end of my Lower Sixth year, it was a summer I have looked back on through rose-tinted spectacles for the last 42 years.

But as this summer continues, I have started to remember that I didn’t really enjoy the long, hot summer that much. It was great fun learning to sail a dinghy with a friend in Germany – but I did end up with sunburn!

I like a few warm days as much as the next person – but the low 20s is quite warm enough for me (the idea of a summer holiday in Spain or Greece seems appalling to me).

In 1976 there were no Factor 50 (or even Factor 5) sunscreens and people with sandy hair like me simply couldn’t spend long in the sun without burning up. I spent the much of the summer in long-sleeved shirts and trousers and baked as I worked on a relation’s fruit farm picking raspberries!

This year’s temperatures have not been quite as high as they were in 1976 (although that could change this week) and the drought is not as severe as it was 42 years ago – but I must admit that when we do get some meaningful rain to green-up my grass, I’ll be dancing for joy in the garden!

How does the summer of 2018 compare to 1976?

Overall the summer of 2018 has not been as hot as 1976 – in places temperature hit 30C+ on 15 consecutive days in 1976.

Both heatwaves started in June. Both look set to continue until late August. There were occasional thunderstorms in 1976, as this year, but their rain did not help ease the drought.

A key difference is that the heatwave of 1976 followed 12 months of very low rainfall – last winter’s rainfall was about average and most water companies headed into the summer with stocks reasonably high.

How will the heatwave break? In 1976 the long, hot summer ended with thunderstorms over the August Bank Holiday weekend – which heralded a dramatic change in the weather.

September and October 1976 were two of the wettest months on record and reservoirs rapidly filled up. Drought restrictions introduced in August were eased a few months later.

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