Ben Lowry: Hot weather ought to be welcome in Northern Ireland but this is extreme

I remember when I was young my eldest brother pointing out that feeling after arriving for a summer vacation when you leave the air conditioned airport and step out to a wave of heat on the pavement, even at night.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 9:51 am
Updated Sunday, 25th July 2021, 11:58 am
An aeiroal drone picture of a farmer making straw near Hillsborough on Friday, which was yet another sweltering day. Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

It was that first firm sense that you had arrived somewhere with proper holiday weather.

It is never like this at night in Northern Ireland, he said. Not even on the hottest day of the year.

He was right —, even this past week has not quite been that warm at night. But on Thursday evening I stepped out of our Belfast office to near Mediterranean night time heat. It still was not the powerful wave you get in Spain, but almost.

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Recent day temperatures in NI, of highs in the upper 20s Celsius or just past 30, would be respectable maximums for the Spanish costal resorts in July and August.

It is not exceptional for NI to reach such levels — most summers at some point there is some place that reaches 28C or beyond.

But what is exceptional is that this has been a sustained period of more than a week in which all of the Province has been seeing daily highs of the mid 20s C or beyond.

Even more stunning, is the way in which the record for the hottest temperature ever has been broken not once, but three times, within a small number of days. It is akin to something I wrote about earlier this month, how Canada had never before been above 45C, then within a week broke that record several times hit 49.6C.

Heat records used to be like athletic records — beaten rarely, and only by fractional margins. For example, our previous hottest record of 30.8C lasted for decades and was shared by two different years. Now we have beaten that three times in a week, and easily too (31.3C).

It is very rare that I am too warm to sleep in NI but I simply could not get my bedroom cool on Thursday night, with window open, and almost wanted to sleep outside. I never remember that before.

Much as I would love to see NI weather improve generally, this is all so extreme as to be unsettling.

Ben Lowry (@Benlowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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