Searing temperatures may get hotter

EAST Anglia was basking in a Mediterranean-style heat wave yesterday , and temperatures are expected to get even hotter today.Temperatures topped 24C (75F) in Wattisham yesterday and across the border in Andrewsfield, near Stebbing, Essex, it was 26C (79F), more than two degrees centigrade hotter than Sunday.

EAST Anglia was basking in a Mediterranean-style heat wave yesterday , and temperatures are expected to get even hotter today.

Temperatures topped 24C (75F) in Wattisham yesterday and across the border in Andrewsfield, near Stebbing, Essex, it was 26C (79F), more than two degrees centigrade hotter than Sunday.

But Steve Western, duty forecaster for Weatherquest based at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, said today could be the hottest day of 2003 with temperatures across the county possibly soaring to a sizzling 30C (86F).

The country's hottest weather so far this year was in Shepshed, Leicestershire on June 22 where the temperature reached 30.5C (87F).


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By Wednesday or Thursday though it will be getting cooler and fresher.

Mr Western said: “The county is experiencing a heat wave called a Spanish Plume. This is where warm air comes off north Spain, over south-west France and to Britain. The hot air triggers thunderstorms, which could reach East Anglia in two days time.”

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The blistering sunshine has caused a surge in sun cream sales as sunbathers rush to the county's seaside and resorts.

Kieran Howell, manager of Superdrug in Westgate Street, Ipswich, said: “I think we have record sales on all sorts of sun cream this year. A lot of people are staying in this country because of all the hot weather but there is also the impulse buyers who come in to get some sun cream as the temperatures rise in the town.”

Endangered animals at Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm have found a more economical, though slightly less fashionable, way to stop sunburn.

Richard Storer, joint owner of the farm, said: “The pigs have got wet mud to keep them cool, which they wallow about in. As I keep telling the children who come here, mud is a natural sun cream for pigs and it is a much cheaper alternative too.”

The warm water has brought an influx of jellyfish floating into Ipswich dock but harbourmaster John Swift said they were “not a danger and could only give a sting like a nettle.”

People from the county have also flocked to the coast in the sweltering heat.

Mark Baird , general manager of Clacton Pier, said: “We have had a terrific weekend. June and July have probably been our busiest months in ten years. I imagine our ice cream sellers on the pier did extremely well as it got hotter.”

In Colchester Zoo it was the animals that were getting a taste of custom-made lollipops.

Alex Burr, spokeswoman for Colchester Zoo, said: “We have ways of bringing the temperature of the animals down. We spray the penguins with pressure hoses so they can cool off and we have also been making ice lollies, or more accurately ice blocks, with all different sorts of fruit in for the primates. We have even made blood lollies for the tigers. As humans need ice creams so the animals benefit from the ice blocks.

“All of the animals here were born in the UK or Europe though so they do not suffer from extremes of temperatures,” she added.

The last time the county had some significant rainfall was on July 3, nearly two weeks ago. Gardeners at Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds are working extra hard to ensure the plants survive the heat wave. Flowers planted in the Spring are not doing as well as they should do and a number in the central feature of the garden have died and needed replacing. The lawn is also suffering in the heat.

Park manager, Jean English, said: “The heat wave is heavenly for visitors but means gardeners are having to work round the clock to keep the Abbey Gardens in tip top condition.”

However Brian Finnerty , regional spokesman of the National Farmers Union, said the sunshine was not only enjoyable for farmers but was also leaving them with less work to do.

He said: “As the sun is making the crops nice and dry it means they can be harvested earlier and need less drying out. In many ways the warm weather is making life easier. Some farmers, for example those with vegetable crops, have had to irrigate the fields more though.”

Sarah Rowland from Anglian Water said there was a “good and secure water supply” for the county and careful planning ensured there was no need for a hosepipe ban.

She said: “We plan approximately 20 years in advance and cater for the hottest temperatures. Our systems can cope with very low rainfall, especially as this area has less then half of the average rainfall nationally, but our customers are also very water wise.

“We have had a very wet winter so the water levels in the reservoirs and other ground reserves have fully recovered. Alton Water, which is just south of Ipswich and supplies water to this area, is 90% full. The underground bore holes, which supply the rest of the area, are also in great condition.”

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