The Daily Parker

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Unprecedented heat in Northern Europe

London has very few air conditioners compared with North American cities, because the 30°C temperatures they've got right now happen so rarely it hasn't made a lot of sense to install them. But this heat wave is different:

The average July high in Stockholm, for example, is usually 23°C; this week, temperatures will crest 32°C, and there are 21 wildfires currently blazing across Sweden during its worst drought in 74 years. Some municipalities have resorted to sending leaflets to older residents to give them tips on how to manage the heat. Hospitals are shipping in otherwise rarely needed air conditioning units. Swimmers might be tempting to cool off in the city’s many waterways, but hot weather has caused giant algae blooms to appear within the Stockholm Archipelago, making the water unhealthy to swim in.

In the UK, severe dry conditions have also fed wildfires. Earlier this month, a large section of the grassy meadows at Wanstead Flats, on London’s eastern edge, burnt to ash—only to reignite again during another fire yesterday. This summer parts of the London region have received only six percent of their normal rainfall, leaving parks brown and reservoirs dry.

Parts of the UK may hit 36°C later this week, with torrential downpours predicted for Friday—a recipe for flash floods and massive property damage:

Several places have now had 54 consecutive dry days – meaning less than 1mm of rain – stretching back to 30 May, the longest spell since 1969 when 70 days passed with no significant rainfall, according to the Met Office.

The longest run of days with no rain at all this summer is 48 at Brooms Barn, near Bury St Edmunds.

A Met Office spokesman said: “For the UK as a whole we’ve only seen about 20% of the rainfall we’d normally expect throughout the whole summer. Parts of southern England have seen only 6%.”

Several longtime Daily Parker readers live in or are this week visiting the UK. Guys: how bad is it where you are? I'll be in the Big Stink on August 31st to find out for myself. I hope it's not as grim by then.

Comments (3) -

  • David Harper

    7/26/2018 5:44:03 AM +00:00 |

    I live near Cambridge, in eastern England.  We have had no significant rainfall since May.  Our lawns are brown and crispy.  The temperatures have exceeded 25 C on most days since early June.  This is almost without precedent.  I say *almost* because I'm old enough to remember the summer of 1976, which was the last extended period of hot, dry weather in Britain.  Nobody who lived through that summer can forget it.  Water supplies were running dangerously low by August, partly due to a very dry preceding winter and spring.  In some parts of the country, water rationing was brought in.  The government suggested that people could take baths with a friend to save water, and a Minister for Drought was appointed.  We haven't reached that dire situation yet, although in some regions, the water companies have introduced a ban on the use of hosepipes.

    As you say, British homes tend not to have air conditioning, because it's not usually necessary.  We keep our house cool by the simple expedient of closing all the curtains on the Sun-facing side of the house during the day.  We open the doors and windows in the early morning to let the cool air into the house, then we close them mid-morning to stop the hot air getting in.  And we're eating a lot of salads, because we don't want to run the stove.

    Happily, my office does have A/C, so at least work is bearable.

  • David Harper

    7/26/2018 11:38:18 AM +00:00 |

    Apropos the news item about the grassland fire on Wanstead Flats in London:  there was a much larger wildfire on the moors north of Manchester in late June.  It was serious enough that the army was called in to help the firefighting efforts:

    A nearby wildfire threatened a transmitter mast on Winter Hill which provides TV signals to much of northern England.  That wildfire is still burning:

  • Nicola

    7/27/2018 11:00:59 PM +00:00 |

    Things are less bad heat-wise here in Edinburgh (mostly high temps in the mid 20s Celsius) but we're also even less prepared for it than down south. In particular the unusual amount of sunshine we've had since spring is causing big problems in our non-A/C office buildings, esp the newer ones that feature lots of glass to mitigate our usually leaden skies...
    Seems churlish to complain about the sunny weather but our buildings just weren't designed for it. And those of us who are acclimatised to the Scottish climate aren't either!
    At least we still have some green grass here though - couldn't believe the uniform dead brown lawns on a visit to Portsmouth (south coast of England) last weekend.

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