It has been as hot in NI as it was in Spain, but it never quite felt it
When in the 1990s I lived in the southeast of England, people from home said things such as: 'You get better weather down there.'
My response was usually: the weather is no better in southern England than Northern Ireland! Yet there is a widespread sense it is.
But I came to realise that both views are simultaneously correct.
Weather in southern England is no better than NI most of the year. It is cloudy and damp in both those UK poles for eight or so months — a bit more damp and windy in Ulster but often miserable in both regions.
But for the remaining four months the weather in southeast of England is markedly better than in this Province: June to September.
It is sunnier and hotter – the typical July maximum is 22.5 Celsius in southeast England and only 18.5C in Northern Ireland. That is an average margin of 4C but often the southeast pulls 6C or even 10C ahead of us. It gets the kind of Mediterranean heat we almost never do.
I also remember since childhood how rarely summer in Northern Ireland extends into September. Almost from the first day back at school, the rugby pitches had that hard, sterile look of winter.
In SE England however, September is often balmy and pleasant, and autumnal gloom is kept at bay.
This summer it has been notable that Northern Ireland was close behind England in the hottest period, late June and early July. When it was hitting 32C, we were hitting 30C, where it was 28C we were 26C, etc. On a few days we were hotter.
But at no point in this heatwave did Northern Ireland feel as hot as Spain, where I was this month. Yet the maximum temperature in my resort stayed was 28C-29C each day, the sort of temperature we reached. For example, I was in North Down on June 27 when Bangor hit 28C and at Stormont the next day when it touched 29C and while it was clearly hot there was never the wall of heat you encounter in Spain.
The Spain heat was dry, not the humid heat that can seem even hotter than it is.
Is it because urban areas in the Med have a build-up of heat in buildings that lasts all summer and causes those occasional waves of almost suffocating warmth?
• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor