Long spell of hot weather set to break today, but could yet be back at the end of next week
The heatwave in Northern Ireland technically broke on Wednesday July 11, when three weeks of exceptionally sunny and hot weather ended.
But the good conditions have spanned a much longer period than that — from May all the way through until now.
Today, however, the fine climate really is set to disappear for at least a few days, when it will be a more typical Northern Ireland summer — unreliable and at times wet.
In late June and early July, the Province had weather almost on a par with southeast England, which typically has a daily maximum four degrees Celsius warmer than here.
But from mid July England has pulled well ahead of Northern Ireland, often six or even 10+C hotter than here.
This was so yesterday, when Norfolk reached 34.7C (94F) (see below) but NI was well behind, hitting 24.4C (76F) at Giant’s Causeway.
Even so, this week has been warm across the Province, from Castlederg in the west (24.5C on Thursday) to the Giant’s Causeway in the north (24.8C on Wednesday) to Killowen in the southeast (26.8C on Sunday) to Helen’s Bay on Belfast Lough (26.6C,Monday).
These temperatures, while lower than the levels reached a few weeks ago, are well above the normal July average daily maximum of 18.5C in NI.
The News Letter has been collating figures since May, and for 55 of the 66 days since the 23rd of that month it was over 20C (68 Fahrenheit).
For readers who prefer Fahrenheit as a measure, it was over 75F (23.9C) for 27 of the 66 days. In other words, almost four of the last nine weeks have seen warmth that would be respectable even in summer in southern Europe.
In the last two weeks, however, it has been much less sunny than it was at the peak.
The Met Office says that June 21 to 30 Aldergrove had 139.0 hours of sunshine, an average 13.9 hours a day (Belfast gets 17 hours of daylight in June, and the 1981-2010 average for all of June is only 168 hours).
But while last Sunday was hot (26.8C, Killowen) it was not sunny: Aldergrove was sunniest with only 3.9 hours.
The day before, Saturday, there was a mere 0.3 hours of sun in NI’s sunniest place, Katesbridge, Co Down. It was sunniest again on Monday, with only 2.1 hrs.
John Wylie of the Met Office said: “The weather breaks now for two or three days, with more Atlantic influence into next week. It will be breezy and wet. There could be 35mm of rain in some spots on Saturday: as much rain, particularly the west, as we have seen in the last couple of months.
“But this is not the end of summer: high pressure with warm settled weather could return later in the week. It is unusual to see the same pattern all summer but this year has been broadly settled and warm.”
Meanwhile, England did not have its hottest July day ever yesterday as forecasters said it might.
It did not even have its hottest day of the year, with the temperature rising to 34.7 Celsius (94F) in Norfolk, a bit below the 35.3C in (95F) in Faversham in Kent on Thursday.
Now parts of England are facing heavy thunderstorms. The Met Office issued yellow warnings for most of England into early today, and in north-east Scotland until 2pm.
Torrential downpours were forecast, with as much as 30mm of rainfall in one hour and 60mm in three hours, while large hail, lightning and strong winds will be hazards. Forecasters said that those in the areas covered by the warnings can expect flooding of homes and businesses, which could happen quickly.
In hot weather elsewhere, unexploded Second World War ammunition buried in a forest south-west of Berlin is complicating efforts to keep a forest fire under control.
Firefighters have said that while the blaze is under control, it is difficult to get inside the pine forest near Fichtenwalde, 22 miles from the capital, because there are indications that some of the munitions may already have detonated due to the fire.
Like much of Europe, the Berlin region has been experiencing unusually hot weather in recent months.
And in northern California, thousands of people have fled a wildfire that killed a bulldozer operator who fought to contain the blaze. Flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River and reaching the city of Redding.
In Greece. the head of the Athens forensics department has said post-mortems on the dozens of people who died in Greece’s wildfires have been completed, although the identification process continues.