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How Do The Summers Of 1976 & 2018 Compare

September 6, 2018
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By Paul Homewood



A lot of people have said they remember the summer of 1976 being hotter than this year. And they would be right.

According to CET data, at their peak temperatures went much higher and for longer than they did this summer. The only factor that kept the two summer remotely close was that in 1976 temperatures fell away during the middle of July to below average for a while.




Looking at the distribution of the hottest days, we see that 1976 won hands down, with seventeen days of 28C and over, compared to just five this year.




Temperatures peaked at 33.2C in 1976, still a record for CET. This year they only made it to 30.7C.


By contrast, there were also five days below 17C in 1976, as against just one this year.

It is fair to say that the hot weather has been much more constant this summer, at least until the last week of August, In 1976, however, the heatwave was concentrated into three episodes.

  1. Chris, Leeds permalink
    September 6, 2018 3:34 pm

    Another factor in the difference between 1976 and 2018 may be night-time temperatures. If I recall correctly some of the nights in 1976 were relatively cool because of the very dry air and clear skies – I think ground frost was recorded in August in some locations of England that year. Contrast to 2018 is that this year – it seems to me – night-time temperatures were higher. This may be humidity and/or greater urban heating now than in 1976.

    • paul weldon permalink
      September 7, 2018 7:55 am

      Chris, you may have hit the nail on the head by referring to night time temperatures. Perhaps your subsequent quick analysis of the data should have focused on night time lows instead of daily maximums? If I remember correctly, 1976 was particularly dry, and the ‘drought’ had set in at least a year earlier. The land would have been much dryer as a result and humidity would have been correspondingly lower, apart from the dry air due to the high pressure. Taking an average to determine which year was hotter may therefore favour 2018 as the ”hottest”.

      • Chris, Leeds permalink
        September 7, 2018 8:12 am

        Paul, I think you are correct. The ground had been dry for many months before the summer of 1976 and then the real heat set in. On some days there were exceptionally low humidities. I have just checked the Monthly Weather Report for 1976 and if you take August 1976 (and the Midlands as an example area) the mean day max was 3.4C above the average (this was probably the 1941-70 average in those days), but the mean min was actually -0.2 below average! Overall for England & Wales mean max was +2.9 above and mean min only +0.2 above average. The situation wasn’t quite so extreme in June and July with such big differences between mean max and mean min, but mean maxes were generally higher than mean mins. On 1st August 1976 there was very nearly an air frost even as far south as Berkshire!

      • September 7, 2018 1:47 pm

        CET show both min and max higher in summer 1976 (though the max gap is greater):

        Mins – 1976 12.1C
        2018 11.8C

        Maxs – 1976 23.5C
        2018 22.7C

      • paul weldon permalink
        September 8, 2018 8:57 am

        Thanks for the reply, Chris. Interesting to see from Paul that the CET shows different results. Could be that either CET is not representative of the midlands, or that either figure has been ”adjusted”. I am interested in whether both individual stations, and the CET data are readily available online, so if you could post the website address I would be grateful. As far as frosts are concerned from 1976, I have a memory of snow on the ground on 1st June! I am not sure, however, whether it was 1976 or a year before or after. I was travelling east to Bury St. Edmunds very early in the morning and was surprised to see trucks coming the other way with snow on their fronts. Further milage revealed that there was indeed snow, some 10cms or so lying. By 9 am it had disappeared, and by the time my further travels reached Colchester docks, it was warm, sunny and I was sweating.

      • September 8, 2018 12:02 pm

        That snow was definitely in 1975 Paul

        We were in Austria at the time and remember seeing “Snow stopped play” headlines (I think in Derby)

      • Chris, Leeds permalink
        September 8, 2018 3:30 pm

        Hi Paul, the CET data are bound to be a bit different from the Elmdon/Birmingham Airport data because the CET is supposed to cover a larger area from the south Midlands up almost to North West England. If you would like to look at the data yourself, Individual station monthly totals/ averages are presented for a small range of stations on the met office website at These data are usually updated about 6 weeks after the end of the month, although remain provisional for the previous 8 months. Historic copies of the Met Office Monthly Weather Report and Daily Weather Report or Daily Summary etc are also on the Met Office web -site… follow the links for “learning’ and then “national meteorological library’ and then you can then click on the digital library and archive and find yourself from there. Access to the CET data can also be found on the Met Office web-site by following the links for climate, then uk climate, then data…

        As to snow in June – it was the previous year, ie 1975. I have a note in my weather diary for the day of Monday 2nd June 1975 at Leicester. My note records a 9am temperature of 3.3C, with rain and sleet from 0730 to 0810, with sufficient snow in the sleet to cause the ground to be slightly covered by 0800. By about 9am it was already mostly melted. Four days later I recorded a maximum temperature of 27C!

      • paul weldon permalink
        September 9, 2018 8:38 am

        Many thanks for the info, Chris. Appreciated. Just a few comments on this summer – here in Latvia we have had a lovely summer, but still a degree or so less than in 2010. It is surprising how local the 1976 summer was. Here it was colder than average, although as a generality there is a reasonable correlation between annual average temperatures here and in the UK. Believe it or not, the summer temperatures here at 58 degrees north are around 2 degrees warmer than the UK. Rather puts the ”extreme heat” and health warmings into perspective!
        And to bore you all, another memory from 1976: it was also the year that saw the demise of most of the elm trees in the UK – Dutch elm disease. I was often in the west country at this time, and with the hot summer and the dead trees in the countryside it looked as though the heat had killed the trees – thankfully there was no talk of climate change at this time, otherwise it would certainly have been the cause….

  2. Chris, Leeds permalink
    September 6, 2018 3:42 pm

    I have taken the liberty of re-posting this comment that I added to the previous item comparing the summers of 1976 and 2018. I noted that I had just done a cheap and cheerful comparison of 1976 and 2018 summers for Birmingham Airport (Elmdon), looking at maximum temperatures only. I did a quick check of the data in the Daily Weather Report for 1976 and the information on weather for the daily maxima in 2018. My very quick calculation is the mean maximum temperature for summer 1976 at Birmingham Airport was approx 22.7C, but for 1976 it was approx 23.6C.
    Looking at days that reached certain thresholds:
    Days with max >or= to 20C – 68 days in 2018, 75 in 1976
    Days with max >or= to 25C – 32 days in 2018, 38 in 1976
    Days with max >or= to 30C – 1 day in 2018, 11 in 1976!
    [Some of these data seem to compare well to Paul’s main article about CET showing that the peak of the 1976 was hotter and longer and there were more really warm or hot days – also the absolute maximum at Birmingham Airport was 33C in 1976, but 31C in 2018].
    My calculations are quick and they are only for daytime maxima and only for one station (albeit in the heart of England), but a Brummie might be justified in saying that his or her experience of summer 2018 was simply not in the same league as 1976. Makes it more puzzling why the Met Office is indicating otherwise. Is my maths wrong? or there’s?

  3. Ian Magness permalink
    September 6, 2018 3:55 pm

    Thanks for nailing this argument Paul. You don’t have to be a statistician to see the clear differences in the charts.
    We look forward to seeing the Met Office try to justify what can only have been Adjustocene gymnastics to claim this was England’s “hottest summer EVAH”.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      September 6, 2018 9:40 pm

      Sadly, even if they are forced to admit their errors the damage is done with claims trumpeted in all the meja. Their retractions are small print addenda to reports that are not reported.

      However, fortunately, it appears that the British people (who are not “true believers”) are actually more savvy than the purveyors of fake-news believe and have learned to view official statements with due suspicion, Brexit is a real example of this effect.

  4. Geoffb permalink
    September 6, 2018 5:07 pm

    No significant rise in UK Summer temperature in 42 years confirmed by Met Office. No Global Warming. Somehow I don’t see the BBC using this interpretation of the data.

  5. Athelstan permalink
    September 6, 2018 6:24 pm

    What needs to be done now; is a comparison of the two years, what happened in 76 as compared to 2018 and I’ll start the ball rolling, could it be anything to do with SSTs and the NAO?

    From WUWT – NOAA:

    • Chris, Leeds permalink
      September 6, 2018 7:37 pm

      The answer to that question of the impact of SST is likely ‘yes’. A study by the NERC National Oceanography Centre has suggested that there is a link between extreme European summers and cooler than average spring sea surface temperatures in the sub polar Atlantic. Atlantic sea temperatures this spring (2018) were up to 2C below normal – a very cold pool in the NE Atlantic – with slightly warmer water closer to Iberia and Morocco. The study suggested similar patterns were a good predictor of heatwave summers in Europe back to 1980. I’m not sure whether there is enough information about sea temperatures back in 1976 – probably before satellites could measure it.

      • paul weldon permalink
        September 7, 2018 8:00 am

        Or the reverse – the location of the high pressure area helps determine how SST behaves. One effect may dominate the other, but the effect must be a 2-way process, inextricably linked. Food for thought?

  6. September 7, 2018 3:05 am

    Cet shows big differences in warming trends among the calendar months.

  7. September 7, 2018 4:49 am

    If you assume that there are multiple mechanisms that have developed to stabilize the temperature then you can look for examples of the feedback control needed for stability. A lower temperature provides a signal the brings higher temperatures at some future date and vice versa. An example would be the low SST PREDICTING A HOT SUMMER. See Chris Leeds comment below. Some if not all of these mechanisms must be biological in order to have evolved. If we apply control theory we do not need to know the detailed mechanisms to predict the response to a stimulu.

  8. Jack Broughton permalink
    September 7, 2018 11:25 am

    Was looking back at an old posting about UHI and how it affected two stations (Valentia and Buenos Aries), this was posted on October 26th 2014. I was wondering if the data had been updated for the comparison of the temperatures before and after “homogenisation”???
    Ron Clutz also did an analysis of the worldwide station locations and changes over the years, but I can’t find it at the present time.
    Given that the global warming theory is fundamentally flawed in its dependence on CO2 leading, it seems that we need to deconstruct the measurements and adjustments also to finally prove the case..

  9. tom0mason permalink
    September 8, 2018 7:57 am

    Gavin’s latest video spells out the rationality of the summer heat records — starting at about 9:30 in his video

    • tom0mason permalink
      September 8, 2018 8:07 am

      Oops that should read…
      Gavin’s latest video spells out the regionality of the summer heat records — starting at about 9:30 in his video

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