This week’s heatwave may go down in history as the wettest one we’ve had.
Scorching temperatures were matched by isolated flooding in some areas of the UK and dramatic lightening strikes. But what really defined the two-day scorcher was the raised tempers.
In London, a water fight organised on social media broke out into disorder and violence with a crowd of more than 1,000 people involved. Elsewhere, trains were cancelled because the rails were too hot, schools closed and chaos hit the roads with heat damage in places, including a small section of the A50 in Derbyshire. Serious stuff - but how does it compare with the summers of old?
Here’s our list of the hottest heatwaves in history:
2006: The Hottest for a Century
19 July 2006 turned out to be the hottest July day for almost a century, beating the record set in 1911. With a peak of 36.5C (97.7F). British temperatures that week exceeded such holiday destinations as Malta, Athens, Bermuda and Rome. That July remains the hottest month on record.
1976: The Summer of Drought
In 1976 the summer had a long heat-wave, with temperatures not dropping below 32.2 degrees for two straight weeks. And on July 3, they peaked at 35.9 degrees. The south of England saw serious droughts and the government even appointed a minister for drought because the situation was so grave. Parts of the south west went 45 days without any rain in July and August, and as the hot and dry weather continued, devastating heath and forest fires broke out in parts of Southern England. Some 50,000 trees were destroyed at Hurn Forest in Dorset and farming was badly hit with £500-million-worth of crops failing.
2015: The One-day Scorcher
But last year since had the hottest July day on record. July 1 was a one-day heatwave provoking an extreme weather warning. Temperatures hitting 36.7 degrees C recorded in Heathrow broke the previous record, but only narrowly. The hot weather was called a contributing factor in Thetford Forest fires and on the M1 in Derbyshire a large fire caused delays after a lorry carrying batteries burst into flames. Hot weather may have been a “contributing factor” to a large fire which consumed about 30 acres of Thetford Forest. Motorists on the M1 in Derbyshire delays made national headlines after a lorry carrying batteries burst into flames, causing the motorway to be temporarily closed in both directions. Meanwhile, at the Royal Norfolk show, five people were taken to hospital as temperatures there hit 31 degrees.
2003: The Killer
The summer of 2003 is regarded to be the hottest season ever (or at least since the 16th century). August 10 marked the day that Britain was its hottest ever. A high of 38.5 degrees was recorded in Faversham. But the heat wave not only covered the whole country, it had a huge impact across the channel too. The June-August ‘European Heatwave’ was devastating with a total of 70,000 killed, and 15,000 in France due to the weather. In the UK, the NHS recorded a 59 per cent spike in ‘excessive mortality’, with 2,000 more deaths than expected over the period. 2003 is a terrible reminder that excessive sun is extremely dangerous. Be careful out there, stay hydrated, and stay covered.