No heat yet for the UK

  • June began with warm sunshine in many areas, although rain was never too far away from Scotland. Beach-goers enjoyed the weather at Tynemouth beach, Tyne and Wear, North Tyneside, on Thursday 02 June. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

    By the end of the first week of June it had turned cooler and unsettled. Here is golfer Graeme McDowell sheltering from the rain during Round Three of the Saab Wales Open 2011. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

    The heat in Europe is to the east. This image indicates temperature anomalies: blue is cooler than average while pink and red are warmer than average. Deep red shows greater than ten degrees above normal. Image © MeteoGroup.

  • No heat yet for the UK
    10.06.2011 09:18

    When the United Kingdom is enjoying one of its warm or hot interludes during the spring or summer, meteorologists are often asked "where are we warmer than?"

    Of course, the questioner does not generally mean climatologically chilly places such as Greenland or Iceland. Rather, he or she is seeking comparison with summer hot spots like the Algarve, the French Riviera or Tunisia. We can all then congratulate ourselves how lucky or foresighted we were not to bother flying abroad to catch the sun.

    In winter when we have frigid period like last December, plummeting temperatures are often compared with places like northern Finland. As it happens this is a region we might cast envious eyes towards at the moment as various festivals and Wimbledon approach.

    Temperatures in Lapland and north-western Russia have been remarkably high during the last day or two, rising into the thirties Celsius close to the Arctic Circle. The UK, meanwhile, is mostly stuck with highs between 13 and 18 degrees.

    Part of the cause of this disparity is our old friend the jet stream, which has often recently been hurtling extravagantly northwards and southwards rather than meandering more modestly around the globe.

    It has been helping to thrust warm air northwards in some parts of the world and consequently drag cool and unsettled conditions southwards in between.

    The UK is currently in one of those "in between" regions, and will be for a few days yet, while eastern Europe, Finland and west and north Europe find themselves under a northward loop of heat.

    However, this is not altogether unusual. Russia, for example, has a Continental climate which means that although its winter gets very cold it can swelter during the summer.

    We only have to look back to last year, in fact, to find another example of the British Isles locked into a cool pattern of weather while eastern Europe and Russia roasted in record-breaking temperatures. Finland's highest temperature was set in July last year, reaching 37.2 degrees Celsius at Liperi, close to Joensuu, in the southeast. In Russia in 2010, Moscow rose close to 38 degrees while Yashkul set a new national record with 44.0 degrees Celsius.

    Given that the UK is "in between" then there must be heat farther west as well as east, right? Indeed there is. Eastern Canada and the north-eastern USA have been baking as well, with near-record temperatures in the mid to high 30s in places such as Toronto and New York City, and date records were broken on Wednesday 08 June in parts of Ontario.

    Until the pattern shifts then don’t be in too much of a hurry to mothball your cardigan and hat.

    By: Stephen Davenport