A LOOK BACK: The Extremes Of Summer 2015

For most of the UK and Ireland, summer 2015 will be remembered as cold and wet and for those across much of Europe, hot and dry. Much of the driving force behind the major summer heat and wild swings is largely down to the strengthening El Nino. Many previous hot European summers have occurred around the peak of a solar maximum as during an El Nino year.

To commence this wild and rollercoaster-like extremes of summer we must start with May as Spain and even Europe experienced a new heat record.

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Scorching Spain heat breaks all-time May records for Europe

An impressively intense heat wave in Spain this week has managed to topple all-time May records for the county as well as all of Europe.

Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, writes that record high May temperatures for the entire continent of Europe have fallen in Spain today:

At least four stations in the Valencian Community of eastern Spain hit temperatures today in excess of the previous European May heat record set just eight days ago–a 41.9°C (107.4°F) reading at Catenanuova, Sicily (Italy) on May 6. Today’s European record-breaking May temperatures in Spain included:

Carcaixent: 42.9°C (109.2°F)
Xativa: 42.7°C (108.9°F)
Algemesi: 42.6°C (108.7°F)
Valencia: 42.3°C (108.1°F)

Many stations in Spain’s Valencian community went above their June records, and were near their all-time records for any month. The record set at Valencia today was 6.3°C (11.3°F) above the previous highest May temperature, and was 4.1°C (7.4°F) higher than the record for June!

Though the World Meteorological Organization does not officially track weather records for entire continents, some reputable weather historians and climatologists have maintained thorough databases of global weather records. One of these historians is Maximiliano Herrera, a colleague of Masters, who provided the data for the records above.

The heat records are the culmination of a series of scorching days. Some cities in Spain reached temperatures that were close to their all-time record highs for any month.

On Wednesday, Lanzarote Airport on the Canary Islands hit an incredible 108.7 degrees, which set a new May record for all of Spain by more than four degrees, says the U.K. Met Office. “The previous May record in Spain was 40.1C [104.2 degrees Fahrenheit] at Cordoba on the mainland, and Cordoba itself recorded a new May station record on Wednesday with 41.2C [106.2 degrees Fahrenheit].”

The Lanzarote Airport temperature also blew away the station’s old record high for the month of May by 10.8 degrees, and was shy of the all-time record high for any month by just half a degree.

Madrid, Seville, Granada and Cordoba all set record highs for the month of May on Wednesday.

A plume of warm, subtropical air has been pushing northeast this week, pumping up the mercury on the Mediterranean side of the Iberian Peninsula with the aid of a process called “adiabatic compression.” Basically, when air is compressed — like when it is forced into a smaller space, or when it moves into an area of higher pressure (like as it flows down a mountainside) — it heats up. So, the already-toasty air is getting some adiabatic enhancement that led to off the charts May temperatures.

“Further records could be broken today in parts of Andalucía, Mercia and Valenciana as air continues to feed in from North Africa,” says the U.K. Met Office in a blog post about the heat. “However, a cold front is pushing gradually southeastwards across Spain, bringing cooler air across much of the country by the end of the week.”

Record May temperatures for Spain

Update: On Thursday, records were broken once again across southeast Spain. Valencia equalled Lanzarote Airport’s 42.6C from the previous day. Other stations in the Valenciana region exceeded this value, with Xativa and Carcaixent reaching 42.7C and 42.9C respectively; however these are as yet unconfirmed so are not official. Either way, not only is this 42.6C a new Spanish record for May, but a European-wide May record.  

Meanwhile, the heat is spreading to other parts of Europe, with extreme warmth expected today along the north coast of Sicily and parts of mainland southern Italy.

A new record maximum temperature for Spain was set yesterday, with many local records also broken, and the heat continues today in the southeast.

Iberia Temps

The new record of 42.6C was recorded at Lanzarote Airport in the Canary Islands, beating the previous May record for Spain by a relatively large 2.5 degrees. It also beats the Lanzarote station’s own previous highest May temperature by a whopping 6 degrees.

The previous May record in Spain was 40.1C at Cordoba on the mainland, and Cordoba itself recorded a new May station record on Wednesday with 41.2C.

Met Office Global Model mean sea level pressure and temperature

Further records could be broken today in parts of Andalucía, Mercia and Valenciana as air continues to feed in from North Africa. However, a cold front is pushing gradually southeastwards across Spain, bringing cooler air across much of the country by the end of the week.

June-August 2015 was quite an interesting summer with some wild flips between record warm and cold.

Wintry open to June

Remember the snow which fell in the Highlands in early June?

Credit: Met Office

Credit: Met Office

A fresh snow covered Aonach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis.

Credit: Mark Vogan

Credit: Mark Vogan

Credit: Mark Vogan

Credit: Mark Vogan

Credit: Mark Vogan

Credit: Mark Vogan

Glen Coe.

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Drumochter Pass on A9.

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I recall a lifelong resident saying that this was the most snow he’s seen in those hills this late.

Spain and Europe experienced ‘hottest June days on record’ with Madrid experiencing it’s earliest 40C and first in June.

The Ups & Downs Of July

An oven-like open

UK experiences a new July record with Heathrow topping a new benchmark of 36.7C.

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Paris experiences it’s 2nd hottest day in recorded history and hottest since 1949.

Credit: weather.com

Credit: weather.com

Credit: Credit: Via #BBCLocalite @UnlockParis

Credit: Credit: Via #BBCLocalite @UnlockParis

A warm one up in Scotland with 29C at Aviemore.

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Vast area of large-scale strong sinking covers Africa and Europe.

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From hottest to coldest July days?

Article from July 29, 2015

Monday and Tuesday of this week we’re particularly cool throughout the British Isles and downright cold over Scotland. In fact parts of Scotland saw the coldest July day in recorded history while others including Glasgow came within 0.3C from the 2001 record cold high of 11.9C.

While hazy, summer sunshine was the scene last year, this has been the frequent scene this year. Glasgow, Perth and Aberdeen have all seen over double the normal rainfall for July.

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Some places Monday shivered in their coldest July day while others came awfully close.

Credit: Met Office / via BBC

Credit: Met Office / via BBC

Interestingly, Edinburgh’s Gogarbank (Airport) site earlier in the month recorded their coldest July night on record (along with other places) with a minimum of 3.7C and now they’ve sealed the deal by recording their coldest July maximum too. Amazing!

Credit: Highland Weather

Credit: Highland Weather

These maximums are widely 4-8, locally 10C below normal. Opposite of this time last year.

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Yesterday (Tuesday) was no better.

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Unusually large negative departures.

Credit: Mike Ventrice

Credit: Mike Ventrice

Quite impressive to see back-to-back July maximums of only 12C in Glasgow and given the all-time coldest maximum is 11.9C. Monday and Tuesday may have been Glasgow’s coldest back to back July days on record.

Strongest summer winds in 19 years for the UK?

Credit: STV

Credit: STV

A very wet and windy British Open at St Andrews

For many across the Northern UK overnight probably thought it was a January night and not a July night. Heavy and at times torrential rainfall was accompanied by gale-force gusts of wind from an unusually deep and tightly wound 990mb low skirting Scotland’s North Coast. Persistent gusts to 49 mph have caused havoc at the Open Championship in St Andrews, Fife along with a flooded course.

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: The Scotsman

Credit: The Scotsman

Credit: The Press & Journal

Credit: The Press & Journal

Wind gusts topped an autumn or winter-like 50 mph at Edinburgh’s Blackford Hill while over the Highlands gusts touched a hurricane-force 75 mph over the summit of Aonach Mor near Fort William.

However, the prize goes to infamously windy and exposed Cairngorm Summit near Aviemore where gusts early this morning clocked an impressive 91 mph. With a brief glance at the records, it appears that 91 mph gust is the strongest over the UK during July in at least 19 years according to Matt Taylor of the BBC.

Back in 1996 a gust of around 90 mph was recorded over Cairngorm and in 2013 a gust of 83 mph was recorded. This follows a very warm open to July where temps topped 29C at Aviemore and along the Moray coast followed by the coldest July night for 2 Scottish sites the week after.

Powerful winds are just the latest in the wild swings and extremes this July and summer is throwing at us. It’s making for a rather interesting year from a meteorological point of view even if it’s not the kind of summer many would have hoped for. If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know this was the kind of summer coming!

The wind, rain, heat and humidity of August

Series of unusually deep lows sweep UK.

Article from August 25.

It’s been an interesting past several days of weather across the UK with storms, heat, humidity as well as flooding rains. Canterbury received 61mm (2.4 inches) of rain within a 12 hour period yesterday. That’s over a months worth! According to Nick Miller of the BBC, most of that fell within 1 hour.

Check out the skies hanging over London yesterday. View from BBC Broadcasting House!

Credit: BBC Weather

Credit: BBC Weather

Back on Saturday night, we saw flooding rain and dramatic thunderstorms followed by one of Scotland’s warmest as well as windiest days of summer. How often do you get 25C with a gale blowing? Wind speeds over Cairngorm Summit were clocked at an unusual 105 mph.

So why are we seeing the heavier pulses of rain into the UK these days? Firstly, we continue to see a strengthening El Nino event in the Pacific which is the primary reason why I had this as a wet summer. Secondly, the track of these lows are coming in from a warmer source region where waters as you well know have been running 1-3C above normal off Portugal.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Thirdly, the further south than normal jet now and throughout this summer has everything to do with the large SSTA contrast between north-central Atlantic extending into Ireland and the very warm water off Iberia, this has helped enhance the summer jet.

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Lows coming up from the warmer-than-normal subtropics continue more moisture and within a warm, humid environment, you get bigger rains. That along with the El Nino which is enhancing our rainfall not just now but throughout this summer.

This is NOT a normal jet stream position or strength for late August.

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Yesterday saw quite the upside down UK temperature profile with the warmest high in Northern Scotland (23C) and the coolest high (13C) over Southern England beneath the cloud, rain and cool wind.

Credit: BBC

Credit: BBC

This is a very active pattern to end August with further ‘El Nino/warm Atlantic’ fuelled rains to come through this evening into tomorrow. Atlantic lows continue to circle a large trough out over the Atlantic, their eastward progressed halted by a strong blocking high over Europe.

The low pressure parade will continue through the remainder of this week and with a more southerly track, we see more rain thanks to sub-tropical and warm water influence and a cooler air mass over the UK with the jet being displaced further south than normal.

See today’s video.

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