Temperatures have hit over 30C for the first time in 2023 – and now forecasters have predicted that the chance of Britain experiencing a hot summer has risen by 45% – which is 2.3 times higher than the average.
The heatwave warning leaves the nation braced for a possible repeat of last year’s record-breaking summer which saw temperatures break the 40C record in the UK for the first time.
Mark Bevan, a senior adviser for the Met Office said there are ‘no strong indications’ for temperatures to hit 40C this year, but added: “On the other hand, we saw it last year, so it’s obviously inherently possible. So never say never.”
Bevan said that this summer’s weather prospects had been predicted using factors including the El Niño effect, wind patterns and sea surface temperatures: “If the wind comes predominantly from the north, that would cool the weather. If the sea surface temperature is high, that acts a bit like an electric blanket for the country.
“Last year was the UK’s warmest on record and that has really focused everybody’s attention on the impact of heat.
“The 2022 heatwave disrupted transport, the emergency services, power supplies and people’s health and we now realise these are impacts that will have to be dealt with regularly in coming years. If you get very hot days but cool evenings, people can recover a bit. But if the temperature never dips below 20C at night, that becomes a real problem.”
Increasingly hot summers could put the health of the nation at risk, with a recent study led by Bath University researchers. predicting peak summer temperatures of 41C and weekly averages of 28C will be normal in large parts of southern England towards the end of the century. These figures compare with maximum peaks of 31C and averages of 20C that occurred in the 1970s.
A joint report by the Office for National Statistics and the UK Health Security Agency revealed that last year there had been 3,000 more deaths in England and Wales than would usually be expected in the summer, with the over-65s worst affected.