Are we on track for record-breaking heat and will we reach 40ºC temperatures?

A record-breaking heatwave?

Well over a week ago, one set of weather data (one of three, and they don't always agree) we use to forecast upcoming weather patterns indicated the potential for temperatures of 40ºC - the first time any forecast charts had predicted a temperature as high for the UK. 

At this stage, it was an outside chance, not highly likely, but interesting in that - if all the right weather elements aligned at the right time - there was a possibility this could become reality. 

We have never seen temperatures of 40ºC, or in excess of 40ºC on any forecast data for the UK. The possibility is there, which hasn’t been before. It’s concerning and worrying as we’re simply not used to or have the infrastructure for such extreme heat. 

One week on, the chance of this never seen before, record-breaking heat remains.  

At the point of writing, Monday 11 July, there is now a 30% chance that the temperature in the UK could exceed its hottest day ever (38.7ºC at Cambridge Botanical Gardens on July 25, 2019). 

With this in mind, the Met Office has released an Amber extreme heat warning. This rare extreme heat warning covers much of England and Wales for exceptional heat on Sunday and into Monday next week.

Latest can be found here.

The extreme heat warning for Sunday covers most of England and parts of Wales. Credit: Met Office

Current weather situation

Over the weekend we have had what we call 'homegrown heat' developing - a day-on-day rise in temperatures as high pressure sits over the UK.  

Many areas of England and Wales will see temperatures close to and in excess of 30ºC. Some areas of the UK will have exceeded the heatwave threshold for their counties over the next few days.

After a respite on Wednesday and Thursday, expect an episode of severe heat to build up from the Continent through next weekend.

Temperatures are likely to peak on Sunday and Monday next week and it’ll feel increasingly humid and thundery. 

A map showing the temperature extremes and how they will effect the UK. Credit: Met Office

Record breaking warm nights

With long days of blazing sunshine and temperatures in excess of 30ºC by day many areas - more so in urban areas - will retain the heat and stay exceptionally warm and stuffy overnight.

A tropical night is when the temperature stays at 20ºC or more after dark and into the small hours - highly likely in the coming couple of nights and even  more so next weekend when it’s likely to feel even more restless and uncomfortable with increasingly muggy, humid air making it feel even warmer. Expect some regional locations to have some overnight temperature records. 

Is this due to Climate Change?

We already know that Climate change is having an impact of temperatures globally and has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes here in the UK. A recent Met Office study has shown that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century, especially in the south east of England.

Only last month record June temperatures were broken in Europe across France, Italy, Norway and in North Africa. These extreme temperatures are becoming more frequent and are likely due to man made greenhouse gases.