2003 – hottest since 1949
heatwave was a true record-breaker. Too
often we hear the weather people on the television telling us that
such-and-such a record has been broken, only to discover by examining the small
print on the screen that "records began in 1989" at that particular
location. Sometimes even that qualification is not there, although it ought to
be; "too much information" is the usual excuse.
Not so on
Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th. Although no new UK record was established, a large part
of the country enjoyed a degree of warmth not experienced in April since
systematic temperature recording began a century and a half ago.
warm weather began on Monday when the mercury soared into the 20sC locally in
western Scotland. The high temperatures became much
more extensive on Tuesday when 24ºC was recorded at places as far apart as London, Cardiff, and the northwest Highlands of
For much of England and Wales the hottest day of the spell was
Wednesday. The maximum reading of 27.4ºC obtained at Stratfield
Mortimer, located between Reading and Basingstoke, was the highest in April anywhere in
the UK since 1949. Indeed, a higher
temperature has only been recorded on 16 April 1949 when 29.4ºC was registered at Camden Square in London, and in April 1893 when Stratfield Turgis, also near Basingstoke, logged 29.0ºC on the 18th.
the hottest weather had transferred to western and northern Britain, thanks to a freshening easterly
breeze. Lochcarron in Wester
Ross recorded 26.9ºC, a new Scottish record; Prestatyn
reached 27ºC, the highest in Wales since 1893; Portrush
logged 22.8ºC, the highest in Northern Ireland since 1984; and Belmullet
touched 24.4ºC, the highest in the Irish Republic also since 1984.
There were some
truly exceptional readings on some of Scotland's outer islands, for instance, 22.3ºC
on South Uist in the Western Isles, 22.1ºC at Rackwick in Orkney, and 19.3ºC at Sella
Ness in Shetland; many years pass without reaching these levels even in high
summer. North Sea coasts missed out on the heatwave;
throughout the week onshore winds held temperatures at 11-12ºC here.