Science

How does this year's heatwave compare with summer 1976?

Scotland and Northern Ireland have already equalled or exceeded the number of days without rain.

The heatwave that hit the UK in the summer of 1976 was one of the longest in living memory and triggered the most significant drought for at least the last 150 years.

How does this year’s hot spell compare so far?

– In 1976, there were 15 consecutive days when temperatures reached 32C (89.6F) or higher somewhere in the UK, according to the Met Office. So far this year, there have been only two consecutive days when temperatures have hit 32C or higher: June 28 and June 29.

Hottest temperatures: 1976 v 2018
(PA Graphics)

– By this point in 1976 (July 17), Northern Ireland had seen 12 days since the start of June with no recorded rainfall. This year, Northern Ireland clocked up 15 days of zero average rainfall just in June.

ENVIRONMENT Hosepipe

– Scotland had seven days of no recorded rainfall between June 1 and July 17 1976. In 2018, Scotland saw seven days of no rainfall in June alone.

– In England and Wales, an average rainfall of zero was recorded on 16 days between June 1 and July 17 1976. By contrast, eight days of no rain were recorded between June 1 and June 30 2018 (the latest available data).

The River Thames during the drought of 1976
The River Thames during the drought of 1976 (PA)

– Temperatures during the heatwave of 1976 peaked at 35.6C (96.1F) in Southampton on June 28 and then 35.9C (96.6F) in Cheltenham on July 3. So far this summer the highest temperature recorded anywhere in the UK is 33.0C (91.4F) at Porthmadog in Gwynedd on June 28.

– June 2018 was sunnier than June 1976. An average of 239.9 hours of sunshine were recorded across the UK in June 2018, compared with 205.5 hours in June 1976.

– June 2018 was also drier than June 1976. Average rainfall across the UK totalled 37.5mm in June 1976. The provisional figure for this year is 35.4mm, which would make June 2018 the ninth driest on record.

Residents in Devon fill a bucket from a standpipe during the drought of 1976. (PA)

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