July 2018 has been a month of sunshine and high temperatures across the UK. For most people this has provided a rich mixture of pleasure and discomfort, and has underpinned our British pre-occupation with discussing the weather. In the last week of the month temperatures approached national record highs both overall and for the month of July, and the same had happened in the last week of June in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The record maximum temperatures recorded for the countries of the UK since records began are
England 38.5C at Faversham, Kent on 10 August 2003
Wales 35.2C at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2 August 1990
Scotland 32.9C at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003
Northern Ireland 30.8C at Knockarevan (Co Fermanagh) on 30 June 1976, and at Belfast on 12 July 1983.
Two of these records came close to being broken in the summer heatwave this year. In Northern Ireland, Thomastown in Co Fermanagh reached 30.1C on 28 June, which is only 0.7C below the Province’s absolute record. And in Scotland a temperature of 33.2C was recorded at Motherwell in Lanarkshire, also on 28 June. This might look like a Scottish record, but the Met Office subsequently decided not to verify it as the measurement was deemed to be unreliable -a car had been parked with its engine running near to the thermometer at the time of the record high!
But what of our local records? Every county in the UK has its own set of weather records, with its hottest, coldest and wettest days and months on record. Some of these records are of very long standing –for example, the record temperature for Midlothian in Scotland is 32.2C recorded at Leith on 16 July 1876. Others, such as the UK national record at Faversham in Kent listed above, are much more recent. Local records may, of course, be national records, too.
East Sussex, in southern England, for example, is well known for having some of the warmest and sunniest weather conditions across the UK on average, and the county holds some of the UK’s extreme weather records. Brighton holds the record for the highest ever minimum temperature for any day, which was 23.9C on 3rd August 1990, during a significant long period of sunshine and high temperatures. The highest temperature ever recorded in East Sussex was also during the August 1990 heatwave – on 4 August a maximum of 34.6C was measured at both the Met Office weather station at Herstmonceux, just north of Eastbourne, and at Brede near to Hastings. Just along the coast, Eastbourne holds the UK record for the highest monthly sunshine total on record – 383.9 hours of sunshine in July 1911, or almost 12.4 hours every day on average. Such records explain in part why the Sussex coast is so popular with holidaymakers and day trippers in the summer.
At the opposite extreme of weather records, the ‘lowest’ high temperature records for counties in the UK are held in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. In the far north, the highest daily maximum temperature ever recorded in the Orkney Islands is 25.6C at Kirkwall on the 20 July 1901, which makes it the UK county with the lowest recorded maximum temperature. In the Western Isles the record maximum is 27.2C at Benbecula on 30 July 1948. The only other counties in the UK which have never recorded a temperature more than 30C are Shetland (27.8C), also in the Northern Isles of Scotland, and Londonderry (29.0C), Antrim (29.4C) and Down (29.5C) in Northern Ireland. No county in England or Wales has failed to record a maximum above 30C, although the Isles of Scilly, which are in the county of Cornwall but lie 45km off Lands End in the south west of England, have a highest recorded temperature of ‘only’ 27.8C at St.Mary’s, experienced once in 1932 and once in 1990. The moderating effect on the temperature of being surrounded by the cool seas of the North Atlantic is very clear, for the highest recorded temperature in Cornwall is 33.9C measured at Ellbridge (10km North west of Plymouth) on 28 June 1976.
How hot was July 2018 in your own home county, and how close was this to the county record? Local media stories on the internet will probably tell you.
The Must Get Out More Question !
Where, and in which county, has the earliest evidence of human occupation in the UK been found?
The Answer to the Last Question
Where is the tallest tree in the United Kingdom?
The tallest tree in the UK is a Douglas Fir tree in Reelig Glen near Inverness, which is 66.4m tall. This makes it the tallest coniferous tree in Europe. It only became the tallest tree in 2014 when it grew to exceed the height of the 64m Dughall Mor Douglas Fir which is only 50m away. The trees are in woodland on the northern slopes of The Aird, 8km W of Inverness (Grid Reference NH55924246)
The Record Locations
You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk