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Summer 2020

September 7, 2020
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood


A quick recap on the weather this summer:


Mean temperatures across the UK were slightly above average, but well below the record years of 1976, 2003, 2006 and 2018.


Rainfall too was above average, but again well below the record years of  1879 and 1912. Moreover there is no evident long term trend.


With both temperatures and rainfall, it is year-to-year variability which dwarfs any slight trend.





There have been three days over 30C in the Central England Temperature series this summer (marked blue). The hottest day, 31st July, reached 33.2C, tying with top temperatures in 1976 and 1990.

But overall this summer’s heatwave did not match the sustained intensity of the summers of 1975, 1976 and 1995.


Given recent discussion about the impact of Storms Ellen and Francis in England particularly, it is worth looking at the rainfall figures for August:



Despite continued projections of “drier summers” by the Met Office, these never seem to materialise, particularly in August. However, the only really wet August recently was in 2004.

This is in stark contrast to the earlier part of the record when wet Augusts were commonplace.

Neither is it the case that heavy downpours are becoming more common in summer.

Storm Ellen and Francis brought 18.0 and 18.7mm peak daily rainfall across England and Wales. Neither were in any way exceptional, although the fact they were just days apart made their combined effect worse.

Across the summer as a whole, they appear even less significant. Since daily records began in 1931, there have been forty seven summer days with 18mm rain and more – effectively a biennial event on average.

Given the extremely wet summers seen regularly prior to 1931, it must be inevitable that much wetter days occurred then.






Finally, given talk about this year’s cereal harvest, perhaps we should take another look at what the Guardian had to say back in 2014:




Mild winters, early springs, hot sunny summers? All the things the Met Office have been promising!

Not much to worry about there then!

  1. Peter Yarnall permalink
    September 7, 2020 2:31 pm

    I don’t know where these readings were taken, but it’s been Autumn here in East Lancashire since mid-July!!

  2. El Toro permalink
    September 7, 2020 5:22 pm

    Are the Met Office temperatures ‘adjusted’ to remove the 1930s/40s warm period?
    If so, are there pre-adjustment records which can be publicly accessed to give a more realistic picture?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      September 7, 2020 6:16 pm

      No, the CET figure is the average of 3 high quality weather stations. There is a small UHI adjustment (reduction) since 1974, arguably too small nowadays.

  3. MrGrimNasty permalink
    September 7, 2020 6:45 pm

    The CET does not tell the whole story of course, especially as the most intense heatwaves are often to the E side of the UK, mainly the SE this time.

    And an average assessment of the whole summer can also miss significant events.

    The MO UK summary is below. The mean UK temperature figure is on the last page.
    The cool July is very evident, and the 17 day period of above average warmth and exceptional heat in August rounded off with a string of very cool days.


    The saturated areas on the rainfall map not surprisingly look almost like a map of west facing upland areas! I wonder how they calculate what is ‘normal’? Normal for upland or just generally?

  4. Phillip Bratby permalink
    September 7, 2020 8:21 pm

    It’s been a typical summer down here, with a complete mixed bag of weather.

  5. I_am_not_a_robot permalink
    September 7, 2020 10:07 pm

    Looking at the entire CET record, for what it is worth, recent summers don’t stand out much while there has been a steady net increase in average winter temperatures over the entire period.

    • Alan permalink
      September 7, 2020 10:46 pm

      Isn’t sn increase in winter temperatures what global warming originally predicted, particularly night time temps. Not an increase in summer highs. This seems to hsve been forgotten in the screaming panic merchants doom chants.

    • September 8, 2020 7:53 am

      That’s my impression. Ice climbing in UK Winters was always a marginal activity, especially in the Lake District. It’s much more marginal now. There are definitely less opportunities to do it now, compared to the early 80s when I started doing it.

  6. John189 permalink
    September 8, 2020 11:26 am

    The great value of the CET is its longevity, but day to day weather varies greatly from place to place. Near the borders of West and North Yorkshire the meteorological summer has indeed been warm, but also dull. The fabled 31 July was hot, humid with a film of high cloud, and ended with a short but intense downpour. Overall, a summer with very few cloudless days. Just another variation in our weather.

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