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What Makes Extreme Weather In The UK?

September 23, 2015

By Paul Homewood 




I think we all know what we mean by extreme weather, and I am sure the public does too.

In their efforts to get us to worry about global warming / climate change, the Met Office has ignored all the evidence of fewer hurricanes and tornadoes, and the lack of any evidence that droughts or floods have got worse, and decided to scare us with the prospect of more extreme temperatures.

And the logic behind this?

Since 2000, there have been 10 times as many hot records as cold records.


This is hardly surprising, since we know that there has been a small uptick in temperatures since the 1980’s. But does this mean temperatures are now “more extreme”?

Are temperatures more extreme in, for instance, London than they are in Aberdeen? Of course not. Extremes in temperature can only be measured against what are regarded as being the “norm” at the time. As “normal” temperatures in London are higher than in Aberdeen, you would expect the summer highs to be similarly higher.


One of the simplest ways to measure extremes is to look at the difference between winter and summer average temperatures. Most would regard the climate in, say, Texas, where summers are boiling and winters freezing, as being an extreme one. By contrast, the UK is seen to have a rather benign climate, moderated as it is by the Atlantic.

Nevertheless, the UK’s weather can be volatile, with cold winters one year followed by mild ones a year later. And similarly with summers. However, if we look at the range of temperatures from winter to summer over a 10-year period, we should iron out some of the variability.

Using this approach with the Central England Temperature Series since 1660 throws up some interesting trends. Bear in mind these are mean temperatures.





It would appear that there has been very little variation between winter and summer temperatures for the last 50 years or so. Earlier in the 20thC there was much more of a difference, although around the turn of the 20thC there was considerably less.

Going back further in time, it is clear that for most of the time winter/summer differentials were greater than the last few decades.


One further comment. The index hits its lowest point in 1928. As we already know, the 1910’s and 20’s marked some of the wettest years on record, with mild winters and cool summers.

Was that weather any less extreme than some of the other periods?

  1. September 23, 2015 10:28 pm

    During the summer I scrutinised climate data from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and continued on the dataset with my own readings (my site is close to Greenwich and reflects similar conditions) to try to find out how the nature of heatwaves in the capital have changed since 1851.
    The results, looking at 30-year averages since 1851, were remarkable in that they showed max temps in heatwaves had trended downward while min temps have increased, probably mostly to do with the urban heat island effect.

    More remarkable was the decrease in sunshine hours during heatwaves over the same period.

    The full blog is here:

    • Kelvin Vaughan permalink
      September 24, 2015 9:05 am

      I think you will find it’s the same with the CET Max and Mins.

      • September 24, 2015 10:01 am

        Agreed, but because CET includes sites in Oxford and Lancashire, at least 60 miles from my site, daily extremes which I find interesting get missed. Last Halloween was the warmest on record. I had a look back in the record here and found that there had been another equally warm Halloween – the CET on that same day was only 10C – it was obviously an overcast day there but very sunny in east London.

  2. September 23, 2015 10:47 pm

    Thanks, Paul. It is as always with the climate alarmists, much ado about nothing.

    Let me recommend:
    Strange New Climate Change Spin: The Hottest Year Ever Inside a Global Warming ‘Pause’
    By William M. Briggs, at (The Stream, September 23, 2015).

  3. September 24, 2015 11:18 am

    During the Medieval Warming, England grew better grapes and thus had better wine than France. France’s nose was predictably out of joint over that.

  4. rah permalink
    September 25, 2015 3:05 pm

    Well you folks in Britain may have have enjoyed less extreme weather just as us Yanks have the last few years, but your not getting away scotch free if the forecast from the folks at is correct. Right now it’s looking like you all are in for a very tough winter. Seems that big cold spot in the North Atlantic is expected to attenuate the moderating effect of the Gulf Stream. So get your warmies and snow tires ready because this winter for you may very well be on the extreme side.

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