Ben Lowry: The extreme heat in Canada shows why we might come to like Northern Ireland’s mild weather

Twenty plus years ago, when we tended to think of temperatures in terms of Fahrenheit, I noticed some facts about weather extremes.

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 9:31 am
Updated Sunday, 4th July 2021, 3:49 pm
Record heat in British Columbia, Canada, causes a wildfire in Kamloops, on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Canada is not normally one of the hottest countries, because it is so far north (Courtesy of Marshall Potts Music via The Canadian Press via AP)
Record heat in British Columbia, Canada, causes a wildfire in Kamloops, on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Canada is not normally one of the hottest countries, because it is so far north (Courtesy of Marshall Potts Music via The Canadian Press via AP)

Every country in the British Isles had both been hotter than 90F and colder than zero F, except one — Northern Ireland.

Wales had been higher and lower than those two points, as had Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland.

But we had not been, until the brutal winter spell of 2010, when for the first time NI fell below zero in Fahrenheit (minus 17.8 Celsius).

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NI is still the only one of the five nations not to have hit 90F (32.2C). We have come close a few times, reaching 30.8 (87F) but still not touched a sweltering 90F.

I write all this because events in Canada have made me think we might come to think of NI’s mild weather as one of its good points.

An old school pal lives in British Columbia, which has experienced nightmarish heat. Canada is not normally a particularly hot nation, being so far north. Until last month, the country had never gone above 45C (113F). Within the last week it has broken that record several times and risen to 49.6C (121F).

To put that in perspective very few nations on earth ever hit 50C. Not even Europe’s hottest, Spain, has got quite so high.

My friend tells me some of the bedrooms at the top of his house were unbearably hot, like an oven.

Often people exaggerate about heat, using non shade temperatures. In most of the world it is rare to hit 40C (104F) let alone 50C (122F). Until 2019, France, a nation with fine weather, had never exceeded 44C. Even Spain only hits 40C a few times in an average year.

I have several times been in 40C+. I recall it was about 103F when I stayed in Las Vegas. It was 40+ in Melbourne when I was there in Jan 2003 (the hottest day ever in the women’s tennis Open finals).

When I went through the Sahara in 2006, it was routine for temperatures to be 30 something but not 40s. And Bermuda, Miami, Singapore are all hot places I have been to that were in the 30s day after day, but almost never went above that.

The hottest places I have visited are Iraq and Afghanistan. They are two of the only countries (others include UAE) that hit 40 almost every day in late spring and summer, and often reach mid 40sC.

British Columbia has now been above even that.

Ben Lowry (@Benlowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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