East Anglia set to swelter as temperatures soar above 30°C in latest summer heatwave

Sightseers enjoying the summer weather at Walberswick near Southwold in Suffolk on Friday 5 August Credit: Joanne Joyce

Temperatures are set to soar over many parts of southern Britain including East Anglia in the coming week with the thermometer forecast to climb above 30°C (86°F).

The Met Office and the UK Health Security Agency have put in place a yellow heat health alert from midday on Tuesday 9 August saying hot weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease.

The latest warning is set at Level 2 but could be raised to Level 3 next week. It is currently lower than the Level 3 alert that was issued ahead of the July heatwave when temperatures reached UK record levels above 40°C (104°F).  The highest temperature reached in the ITV Anglia region on 19 July was a record-breaking 40.2°C (104.4°F) at Pitsford near Northampton

Temperatures are again set to rise day by day during the week as an area of high pressure builds over the UK.  In East Anglia the week will start with temperatures climbing to 27°C (81°F) on Monday and rising a few degrees each day with a forecast of 34°C (93°F) by Thursday and Friday.  The usual average maximum in August in East Anglia is 22°C (72°F).

While seasonal heat varies from year to year there have been a number of hot summers in East Anglia in recent years.  Of the ten hottest summers in the region since records started in 1884, five  have occurred since 2003.  Three of them were in 2018, 2019 and 2020.  It is possible that 2022 will join that number.

It is part of the pattern that scientists concerned about climate change caused by human activities have been warning about for many years.  It has led to calls for massive reductions in the amount of  carbon dioxide gas that is released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burnt. 

The dried up village pond in Mulbarton near Norwich after the driest July on record in East Anglia Credit: ITV News Anglia / Sean Cockrell

No significant rain is forecast in southern parts of the UK for up to a fortnight putting further pressure on water supplies.  Southern Water has put in place a hosepipe ban from last Friday for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, while the measure will follow in exactly a week for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex.

In the East of England water companies have asked customers not to waste water but say there is currently no risk of restrictions being brought in in this area.  However there was a warning that if the dry weather continues into the autumn and winter there would be problems next year.

Months of little rainfall, combined with record-breaking temperatures in July, have left rivers at exceptionally low levels, depleted reservoirs and dried out soils.

All of this has put pressure on the environment, farming and water supplies, and is fuelling wildfires.

  • ITV Weather meteorologist Aisling Creevey explains the difference between the July and August heatwaves

East Anglia has its driest July since rainfall records began in 1836 when only just over 5 mm of rain fell in the area during the month.  That was a tenth of the normal amount.

January to July was the fourth driest such period in East Anglia on record after 1976, 1921 and 1996.

The latest weekly water situation report from the Environment Agency reported that all rivers in the East of England were low flowing and that only three-quarters of the usual average rain has fallen in the area in the past 12 months.  

The Rivers Cam and the Great Ouse at Ely were both noted as “exceptionally low” which happens only 5% of the time.  Other rivers like the Nene, Gipping, Yare and Chelmer were all running “notably low”.

Although reservoirs in the East of England were at lower than normal levels there were still more than 80% full at the end of June. Much of the water supply for the area comes from groundwater stocks held in natural aquifers underground and these are said to be at normal levels. 

July saw only a tenth of the normal rainfall in East Anglia and so far it has been the driest year for more than a quarter of a century Credit: ITV News Anglia / Sean Cockrell

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