Record-breaking NI temperature to be investigated by Met Office

The townland of Ballywatticock raised eyebrows at the weekend as Northern Ireland found itself at the top of the weather charts.

By Graeme Cousins
Monday, 19th July 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 11:08 am

Situated on the shores of Strangford Lough, close to Newtownards, the oddly-named townland got people talking after the weather station there provided the Met Office with a reading of 31.2 degrees at 3.40pm.

“How have I lived here almost 49 years and never heard of Ballywatticock until today?” asked one Twitter user on Saturday.

Ballywatticock’s new claim to fame was marked with the changing of a speed limit sign to reference the 31.2C temperature recorded in the tiny area on Saturday.

Press Eye - Belfast - 17th July 2021 Helens Bay Beach with temperatures over 25 degrees. Photograph by Declan Roughan

The Met Office are treating the highest temperature ever recorded in Northern Ireland with an air of caution given that Ballywatticock was nearly three degrees higher than the weather stations surrounding it.

They are sending an expert over to the Province this week to investigate the Co Down weather station which gave the highest temperature reading in all of the UK on Saturday.

Meteorologist Sarah Kent said: “When that sort of thing happens we look at the places around it, no one else had anything quite that high so we’re going to be sending one of our experts out to do a site inspection, just to make sure there’s nothing amiss with equipment. That’s why it’s still a provisional hottest day on record for Northern Ireland.”

Previously, 30.8 was the highest temperature recorded in Northern Ireland, which was reached on July 12, 1983 and June 30, 1976.

16/07/21 MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA..PORTSTEWART NORTHERN IRELAND..Hundreds of cars full of holidaymakers flocked to Portstewart to enjoy the sun on Friday.Picture Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

On the same day 31.2 degrees was recorded at Ballywatticock the next two nearest weather stations at Helen’s bay and Stormont gave readings of 28.3 and 28.7 respectively.

Sarah said: “The second highest temp was at Killowen, 30.8, which feels more realistic.

“Even if it had been 31.2 (at Ballywatticock) we’d still have been saying provisional, because we’d still need to go and check.

“It does look a little bit higher than you’d expect when you compare it to those surrounding stations. We’ll be able to go out and give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down in the next week or so.”

Press Eye - Belfast - 17th July 2021 Gary Brannigan from Strabane with his daughter Ellora. Helens Bay Beach with temperatures over 25 degrees. Photograph by Declan Roughan

While the highest maximum temperature was recorded at Ballywatticock, the lowest max was at Giants Causeway – a reading of 21.7 degrees.

The lowest minimum temperature was 9.1 degrees at Katesbridge while the most sunshine – 14.8 hours – was recorded at Aldergrove.

Met Office meteorologist Sarah said the good weather looks set to continue: “As we go through the week it’s going to be primarily warm and sunny across Northern Ireland.

“The heat could trigger one or two extremely isolated heavy showers.

Pacemaker Press 18-07-2021: Northern Ireland has been basking in the heat. As temperatures increase across Northern Ireland people enjoy the early morning sun and sea at Kilclief beach in Strangford Lough Co Down, Northern Ireland. Picture By: Arthur Allison/ Pacemaker.

“By Friday for Northern Ireland it’s a similar picture but elsewhere in the UK we’ve got an area of low pressure on it’s way into the south west bringing some heavy thundery rain.

“That low pressure will start to push the high pressure away. It will be a fight to see how long the high pressure can cling on. It does look like next weekend we’ll see a return of unsettled weather to the UK. It may well be that NI escapes the worst of it.”

Press Eye - Belfast - 16th July 2021 As temperatures increase across Northern Ireland people enjoy the sun at Donaghadee in Co. Down. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye