United Kingdom: a year of extremes in 2022, with the first 40°C temperatures recorded in July
• 4 min read
The UK had never reached 40°C before. While 2022 was the hottest year ever recorded in Europe, the UK also had a remarkable year of hot weather and historic drought. Discover our weather report.
A mild first half of the year plagued by storms
As a bad sign, temperatures soared over a large part of the UK on 1 January 2022. There were some record highs, with temperatures of up to 16°C in the London area. Much of the Sencrop weather station network sees the thermometer take off for the first few hours of the new year. Temperatures are often between 13 and 15°C, with occasional highs of 16°C in the south. Temperatures are already well above the seasonal norm. These observations are also remarkable in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with some thermometers showing up to 15°C.
During the winter of 2021/2022, temperatures will remain on average above seasonal normals. This trend will continue in the following months during the spring, despite some temporary cold spells in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the months of March, April and May follow this trend with higher than normal temperatures. An example is the last month of spring, when the average temperature is often between 13 and 14°C in large areas. These values are important because they take into account the minimum (morning/night) and maximum (afternoon) temperatures.
Several storms also swept through the British Isles during the winter, notably in February. Storm Eunice was the most virulent with wind gusts approaching 200 km/h. The strongest gusts were recorded during the day on 18 February. Up to 196 km/h was recorded on the well-known Isle of Wight, which the British weather service said was unheard of. A few hours earlier, storm Dudley had hit the area with strong gusts of wind. The Sencrop weather station network recorded a violent wind gust of 135 km/h during the passage of these storms.
Example of impact on agriculture: the repetition of extreme weather events such as these storms causing violent winds and heavy rainfall represents a major risk for agricultural producers. Indeed, this leads to material damage (tarpaulins, greenhouses, farm buildings, etc.), but also to soil erosion, which directly impacts the quality of the soil and hinders agricultural work such as sowing at this time of year
A record summer
With increasingly mild temperatures and little rain in the early months of the year, the summer of 2022 is taking a worrying turn. It is the fourth hottest summer on record for the UK. High-pressure conditions and upwelling of very warm air from the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula and France have exacerbated the thermometer. For the first time in history, 40°C was exceeded in the UK. The new national record was exactly 40.3°C on 19 July, while much of Europe is suffering from unbearable heat. On that day, the Sencrop network of weather stations recorded exceptional temperatures. From Carlisle to Cardiff and down to the Channel, the maximum values on 19 July were between 38 and 39°C in the afternoon. Several weather stations reached 40°C, mainly between Nottingham and London.
If this July is notable for an intense heat wave and a new record maximum temperature in the UK, July 2022 will also become the driest July on record in many eastern and southern territories. Precipitation deficits are sometimes in excess of 50% over large areas. Once again, the Sencrop weather station records speak for themselves: almost no rainfall observed for 30 days in part of the UK!
Faced with this drought and these high temperatures, some trees lost their leaves in August. Rivers and streams reached very low levels. At the beginning of the month, a new heat wave hit the British Isles with temperatures sometimes reaching 35/36°C.
Example of impact on agriculture : the lack of water and the high temperatures have made this summer of 2022 a drought, which has had a direct impact on agricultural production, resulting in low yields for many farmers.
All year above seasonal norms?
The answer is yes. Only the month of December 2022 managed to average below seasonal normals. The return of cold weather in the first half of December almost took the British by surprise with heavy snowfall and frost. Not seen for a long time, temperatures have dropped significantly. Some of the temperatures plunged to -10°C. Nothing exceptional, however, as no record cold temperatures have been broken. However, these images are in stark contrast to the summer of a few months ago...
Global warming is becoming increasingly evident in Europe, including the UK. Heat waves will become even more frequent and may last longer. As a reminder, the UK has recorded its 10 hottest years since 2003. The year 2022 leads the way, but until when?
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