Will 2019 be a scorching summer?
- Credit: Archant
We may be just a few weeks into 2019 but so far there is no sign of the bitter temperatures which the Beast from the East brought last year. But what temperatures can we expect to see this summer?
Here we take a look back at the winters and summers of 1976, 2003 and 2018 – and how it is becoming increasingly common to experience cold winters leading into mini-heat waves in the summer months.
The long hot summer of 1976 is one many will never forget - whether it be for fun in the sun, the droughts and hosepipe bans, the unbearable temperatures or Elton John’s soundtrack of the summer, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.
But fewer people will remember 1976 for the snow that fell in May ahead of what would turn out to be the hottest summer in terms of average temperatures since records began.
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Temperatures reached at least 26.7C every day between June 22 and July 16 back in 1976, and for 15 consecutive days from June 23 to July 7 temperatures reached 32.2C somewhere in England.
The 1976 drought - which saw the driest summer since 1772 - actually started in September 1975, after an incredibly dry period. At the time, it was the driest 16-month period in more than 250 years.
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A few months prior, heavy snow fell in parts of the country through December into mid January with up to six inches lying at times around the UK.
Since the summer of 1976 there have been a number of hot summers - notably in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2006 - but nothing to really rival 1976, that was until 2018.
January began with strong winds brought by storm Eleanor and 60mph winds which closed the Orwell Bridge.
The Beast from the East which arrived in late February then brought sub zero temperatures and snow to the county, closing hundreds of schools and causing massive travel disruption.
Following on from the winter weather, April was a scorcher with record-breaking temperatures which stayed relatively high throughout May, June and July – in what was known as the summer heatwave. Suffolk saw 43% more sunshine than an average July and only half the average rainfall. In the east the temperatures peaked at 34.7C on July 27.
The main difference to 1976 was the length of the heatwave, as in 1976 the drought lasted 16 months.
So what’s in store for 2019?
Dan Holley, a weather forecaster for Weatherquest, said: “It’s too early to say what the summer will be like but it will take a lot to beat last year’s temperatures, after the joint hottest summer on record.
“February is looking to be dry and sunny at times and definitely milder than the average February. The normal daytime average for February is seven or eight degrees, but Thursday and Friday this week could reach early teens of 12 or 13 degrees.
“It looks like there is a lot of dry weather to come and realistically there is going to be little rain over the next two weeks. This could be a problem looking ahead towards the summer if we don’t have any rainfall in the lead up to the hotter months.
“There is no strong indication at this time as to what the summer will bring following on from the 2018 year of extremes with the Beast from the East in late February to early March and then mid-April seeing scorching hot weather.
“This year is already looking a lot more benign in comparison to 2018, there has not been much dramatic weather it’s just been your typical drizzly winter weather so far.”