2018 And 1976 ? A Tale Of Two Heatwaves Extra Quality
According to the Met Office national climate series from 1884 to present, the summer of 2022 was the fourth hottest summer for daily average temperature for the UK overall. It was marginally warmer than 1976 and behind only the summers of 2018, 2006 and 2003.
2018 and 1976 – a tale of two heatwaves
In terms of rainfall, 1995 is the driest summer on record for the UK, closely followed by 1976. These two summers were appreciably drier than the cluster of hot-dry summers of 2022, 2018, 2006 and 2003.
The Met Office has reports from more than 330 land surface stations during the heatwave of 2022 across the UK. Of these,109 have at least 50 years of observations, which therefore capture past heatwaves, including 1976.
In total, 85% of station records occurred during heatwaves in the summers of 2022, 2019, 2006, 2003, 1990 and 1976. It is also worthy of note that each of the last four summers still hold at least one station record.
The five warmest years in the UK series are separated by just 0.06C, which is close to the estimated uncertainty around the calculation of UK-wide figures (0.04C). For the UK-wide series, 2018 is the warmest summer, while for HadCET it is 1976.
It can still be a source of confusion for some, but differences in the ranking of seasons between datasets are not contradictory. While 1976 remains the warmest summer overall for the HadCET and some counties and locations in southern England, 2018 is marginally the hottest summer for the UK overall. But this does not mean 2018 was the hottest everywhere, with 2022 taking the title for much of the east of the country.
The chart shows that 1995 is the driest summer on record for the UK, closely followed by 1976 (in a series from 1836) and these two summers were appreciably drier than the cluster of hot-dry summers of 2022, 2018, 2006 and 2003.