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Weather Watch: An intense heatwave and a spectacular storm

PUBLISHED: 15:22 24 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:22 24 August 2019

The Harding family on holiday from Rochester playing in 30c heat on Great Yarmouth beach. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The Harding family on holiday from Rochester playing in 30c heat on Great Yarmouth beach. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Weather Watch: By Norman Brooks

Laugh in the Park in Chapelfield Gardens were shut down in July due to an electrical storm. Photo: James RandleLaugh in the Park in Chapelfield Gardens were shut down in July due to an electrical storm. Photo: James Randle

July in our region had been meteorologically benign and uneventful until the sudden intense heatwave from the 22nd - 25th inclusive, when each day attained a maximum in excess of 30C.

The hottest day, the 25th recorded 34.5C. (This high reading was exceeded last year when the mercury reached 35.5C on the 27th July.)

The Met Office has verified that the 38.7C registered at the Cambridge Botanical Gardens on the 25th is the record UK maximum.

Apart from the brief heatwave, the other significant factor during the month was the lack of rainfall. This might seem somewhat surprising as thunder was heard on five days, but only a storm on the 25th produced a significant rainfall, amounting to 6.7mms. This storm provided us with a spectacular display of sheet and forked lightning - the best for several years. Temperatures, both by day and night, were significantly above normal, but the monthly mean of 18.9C was below the 20.1C mean temperature of July 2018.

With temperatures reaching 30c on Great Yarmouth beach, locals and holidaymakers made the most of the hot weather. Picture: Neil DidsburyWith temperatures reaching 30c on Great Yarmouth beach, locals and holidaymakers made the most of the hot weather. Picture: Neil Didsbury

At the time of writing, hopes are still high that measures taken at Toddbrook reservoir will avert a disaster.

Associated reports implying that similar events, and flooding in general, are largely caused by global warming are erroneous.

In 1925 sixteen deaths were caused by a dam collapse in north Wales, and a dam failure in 1864 near Sheffield claimed the lives of two hundred and forty, and the destruction of over five thousand homes. In both cases heavy rain the culprit.

As on the continent, occasional intense summer downpours are part of the natural climate. Local examples include the August 1912 floods, and the September 1968 inundations and the extraordinary two hour downpour that deposited five and half inches of rain on Costessey in August 1972.

The Met Office has just announced that, "The 10 hottest years in Britain since records began, have all occurred since 2002."

Disturbingly, this can only be interpreted as a deliberate distortion of the truth. Although their figures have been taken from the Central England Temperature Series - which covers the average monthly temperature for every year since 1659, their published assertion that 2014 , with an annual mean temperature of 9.9C was the warmest year since 1659 is untrue.

Reference to the Temperature Series indicates the following;

1733, 1834, and 1868 shared an annual mean temperature of 10.4C.

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1736, 1828: mean: 10.3C

1686, 1781, 1846: mean: 10.2C

1730, 1775, 1822, 1826, 1831, 1857: mean: 10.1C

1759, 1761: mean: 10.0C

The Met Office by ignoring these seventeen exceptionally warm years is attempting to convey that recent warmth is an entirely new phenomenon.

Statistics for July 2019

Total rainfall: 27.0mms (48% of average)

Wettest day: 6.7mms 25th

Days with rain: 11

Coolest day: 17.9C 6th

Hottest day: 34.5C 25th

Lowest minimum: 7.4C 4th

Average temperature: 18.9C (2.4C above average)

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