Extreme heat: Northern Ireland ‘far more likely’ to see 30C every year due to climate change, says Met Office meteorologist

Northern Ireland should expect to see temperatures in excess of 30C every summer due to climate change, a Met Office expert has said.

By Niall Deeney
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 6:01 am

This comes after the Province came within a fraction of a degree of its all-time record yesterday, with the record high temperature of 31.3C having been set just a year ago in Castlederg.

Yesterday’s extreme heat peaked at 31.1C in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh – just 0.2C off the high recorded in Co Tyrone last year.

And a Met Office expert has said we can expect that kind of heat in Northern Ireland – with 30 degree heat once a rarity not seen for years at a time – to become an annual occurence.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 18th July 2022 Photo by Jonathan Porter // Press Eye General view of members of the public enjoying the weather in Portstewart this afternoon. Met Office amber warnings for extreme heat are in place for England, Wales and parts of southern Scotland

While the heatwave is likely to be shortlived in Northern Ireland, with temperatures expected to drop today, in England it is set to get even hotter with a forecast that the mercury could rise as high as 41C.

Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan, speaking to the News Letter, explained: “We have seen an increasing number of heatwaves over the last few decades and that’s consistent with what we expect in terms of climate change going forwards.

“For Northern Ireland, and for the world as a whole, we will see temperatures rise year-by-year.

“The really high temperatures of above 30 degrees in Northern Ireland will probably become more of an annual event, whereas before we would go several years where we wouldn’t see 30 degrees in Northern Ireland.”

He continued: “It’s far more likely that we will see temperatures above 30 every summer, and records are more likely than not going to be broken. I’m not going to say it’s going to be a new record every year, but we’ve had two successive years now where we’ve seen temperatures of 31 and that’s consistent with what global warming and climate change is expected to bring.”

Elsewhere, the current UK temperature record looks almost certain to fall later today, when temperatures could reach a “crazy” 41C in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and hit 40C in London.

Rail services were reduced and trains were forced to travel more slowly yesterday amid the risk of buckling rails, and people appeared to heed warnings to work from home as traffic, train and Tube passengers were down on the previous Monday.

There were warnings of pressures on hospitals from the extreme temperatures, and concerns ambulance services would face rising numbers of calls as the heat peaks this afternoon.

There is no weather warning in place for Northern Ireland today, however, where it is expected to cool down again.

Mr Morgan added: “The heat in Northern Ireland is a bit shorter lived. We will see lower temperatures in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, and that’s partly why we haven’t deemed it necessary to issue a warning.

“But it’s also to do with night-time temperatures. In some parts of Northern Ireland, temperatures fell to around 10 degrees which is quite cool and it means that houses and buildings can cool off in the evenings. That’s another factor.

“There will no doubt have been impacts, particularly with more vulnerable people, throughout Monday and perhaps into Tuesday in parts of Antrim and Down where it is going to be hot again.

“But we are probably not going to see the sort of impact we had last year when we saw that record breaking 31.3C.”

He continued: “Generally it will be a much cooler day in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry. Temperatures on Tuesday will be down by around five degrees compared to Monday but, elsewhere, particularly for Antrim, Down and Armagh Tuesday will actually be a similar kind of day – a little bit less hot but we could still see 29 locally, particularly towards Co Down.

“There will be a lot more in the way of cloud around, so there won’t be the strong, blazing sunshine and there might even be the odd shower in the afternoon. Monday is definitely the peak of the heat in Northern Ireland.”

Looking ahead, he added: “Wednesday to Friday should see highs of around 18 to 20 degrees celsius, with some sunshine – a mixture of cloud and sunny spells, light wind and the odd shower now and again. Back to more typical summer weather for the end of the week.”

As for the reasons that Northern Ireland escaped the extremes expected in England and Wales, the meteorologist said: “The main reason is because the plume of exceptionally hot air is just fringing Northern Ireland. It’s moved up from Spain and Portugal, across France, and it’s moved northwards into England and Wales, and even Scotland.

“It’s really a battleground in terms of timing because we’ve got fresh Atlantic air pushing in from the west and there’s not enough time for that hot air to come all the way across Northern Ireland. It’s really just to do with the wind direction, and the timing.”

With temperatures soaring, dog owners have to keep a careful eye on their pets who can overheat very quickly.

The News Letter spoke to several owners at Crawfordsburn beach yesterday and asked what they’d been doing to keep their animals chilled.

Melissa Nicol, who came up from Kilcooley in Bangor, was on the beach with her whipper Louis and her parents’ dogs Joey and Poppy.

She said: “We only take them out quickly then get them back to the house.

“As long as they’ve got their water and shade they’re alright.

“You just need to watch in case it gets a bit too hot. Poppy really feels the heat.

“We don’t take them out for long when it’s as hot as this. Just a quick play, a dip in the sea, then home.”

Chris Osborne and Lydia O’Kane, who had travelled from east Belfast, were with their four-year-old French Mastiff Leo who was relaxing under a soaked towel.

Chris said: “This would be the hottest he’s experienced. We had the heatwave last year but this feels hotter.

“We wanted to take him somewhere where there’s water, but not too deep. Somewhere not too busy, so we came to the quiet part of the beach here. Going in and out of the ocean has helped.”