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Weather-history

Summer Of 1976. 30th Anniversary

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The summer of 1976 was the hottest ever recorded in the UK with a CET of 17.8C. Here's a summary of that summer.

JUNE

June started with cloud and some rain over the UK as fronts passed through but on the 2nd the Azores High ridged towards the UK settling the weather. Fronts moved across the NW parts of the UK but the ridge held sway across southern parts. As the ridge moved into Europe, southerly winds flooded the UK and temperatures rose to the high 20s in the sunshine. A cold front moved into western parts on the 9th but ahead of this system, temperatures rose into the low 30s in the SE. The cold front moved through bringing cooler weather to all parts. The middle of June was mixed with unsettled weather in the north but the high pressure to the south of the UK ensured that the southern parts of the UK saw little rain until the 19th where a frontal system straggled southern parts. The weather changed on the 20th, when a high developed over the SE of the UK and this drew up very hot air from the Meditterenean. This was the start of a remarkable heatwave where temperatures were 30+C every day until the end of the month. The London Weather Centre recorded a maximum of 34.8C on the 26th, southampton recorded a maximum of 35.6C on the 28th. The weather was uncomfortably hot for those who work in offices as most did not have air conditioning. Nights were particularly uncomfortable with minima as high as 20C. The heat caused heath fires in the south as a result of the lack of the rain but in the NW of Scotland there was no lack of rain here as fronts off the Atlantic continually brush the far NW. It was a particular dull month here but elsewhere it was a fairly sunny, dry hot month.

JULY

The heatwave of late June continued into July with the high moving to the north of the UK and this allowed a hot gentle easterly flow across the UK. 32+C was recorded everyday somewhere in the UK up to the 7th. After the 7th, the heat lost its intensity as Atlantic systems moved into the west with some rain but the south and east remained mostly dry. The weather had becomed unsettled generally around mid month with westerly winds and lower temperatures. There were thunderstorms in the SE ahead of a cold front and more on the 20th and 21st but there was little rain with pressure high to the west of Ireland. A cold front swept through at the end of the month and this brought cool northerly winds and even a touch of ground frost to the north. It was a very warm and largely dry July over most parts although the NW of Scotland missed out again.

AUGUST

Although the month started with fronts across the UK, it wasn't long before high pressure was back to retain the dry weather. The high cell moved into Scandinavia and although fronts tried to move into the UK, they were killed off by the high. The weather became hot again and temperatures were in the low 30s around the 24th and 25th just as the high began to recede into the Atlantic. This allowed low pressure over Spain to move northwards and a front to the north to move southwards. This resulted in heavy rain and storms, the first significant rain for a number of weeks in many places. August was another very warm dry month. The effect of the summer was huge. Drinks, ice cream, barbecue, and bikini sales rocketed during the summer but the greatest impact was the lack of water. Reservoirs were drying up and the Government launched meaures to conserve water. People were advised to share baths, to use the bath water to water the garden, to place bricks in toilet cisterns to conserve water. Standpipes were launched and many parts of the UK had no running water for much of the day. The drought caused forest and heath fires in the south and fireman were unable to control these because of a lack of water. Gardens and parks were brown and parched. The Government created a minister for drought, Denis Howell, such was the serious nature of the drought. The ministry was created just as the heavy rains came to replenish the reservoirs.

Summer 1976

Scotland Rainfall: 156mm Mean Temp:13.8C Sunshine: 559.4hrs

N.Ireland Rainfall: 142mm Mean Temp:15.0C Sunshine: 560.3hrs

Eng&Wales Rainfall: 111mm Mean Temp:16.9C Sunshine: 748.4hrs

June and July 1976 was the warmest such combination in the CET list

Record Maxima for these dates

23rd June 1976: 32.2C

24th June 1976: 32.4C

25th June 1976: 33.5C

26th June 1976: 35.4C

27th June 1976: 35.5C

28th June 1976: 35.6C

2nd July 1976: 35.7C

3rd July 1976: 35.9C

4th July 1976: 34.1C

25th August 1976: 32.5C

An old BBC web report on this summer

http://newswww.bbc.net.uk/1/hi/special_rep..._week/66193.stm

Private Eye's send up on it

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It was also the first time the Met Office went public with its 'long range forecasting'. In early September just after one was issued explaining that the drought would continue, I went armed with this to a talk to some local dignitaries group in the Manchester area. Fortunately before I got to the section of my talk about possible long range forecasting, the heavens opened up outside and the drought was well and truly ended. So I was able to screw the bit of paper in my pocket and create my own long range on the spur of the moment!

Highly embarrassing, and it was not long before the Met office stopped using them. Times have changed and it is now a huge market and lots of expensive computing power now go into it.

John

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It was also the first time the Met Office went public with its 'long range forecasting'. In early September just after one was issued explaining that the drought would continue, I went armed with this to a talk to some local dignitaries group in the Manchester area. Fortunately before I got to the section of my talk about possible long range forecasting, the heavens opened up outside and the drought was well and truly ended.

John

I remember the drought breaking in Surrey: for the first and last time in the UK I saw people in the street look up into the sky as it rained smiling...and a pretty wet Autumn followed...

Regards

ACB

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It'll be intresting to see how long 1976 can last as our warmest ever summer, afterall with these days of global warming present, it probably won't be long before we have another pattern lik 76/95 again.

I can just about remember the 1995 summer, though I weren't even born in 1976!

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In Scotland, and I think parts of northern England, Summer 2003 was warmer than those of 1976 and 1995. In my Cleadon records, indeed, 2003 was warmer than 1995. However, the warmth was felt as much by night as by day, whereas in 1976 and 1995 the heat was mainly due to exceptional high average maximums.

While it's probably only a matter of time before the likes of 1976 and 1995 are beaten temperature wise, sunshine wise it will be somewhat harder to beat them. The summer of 1976 was the sunniest in England and Wales in nearly 100 years of sunshine records, and for Scotland and Northern Ireland the same was true of the summer of 1995. In some areas, Summer 1989 was sunniest of all, despite not being especially hot. I think those years will take some beating.

I'm not even sure that synoptics are shifting towards more 1976/1995 type summers, because after a clear trend in this direction in the 1990s, that trend appears to have reversed in the early 2000s.

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The key reason for 1976 being the hottest summer was the June, which had a CET of 17C and was the second hottest on record, that is 2.9C above average, July and August were only around 1C above average unlike 1995, in which July and August were around 2C above average, had June 1995 had a CET of 15.6C as opposed to 14.3C, summer 1995 would have been the hottest on record.

http://www.metoffice.com/research/hadleyce.../HadCET_act.txt

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The key reason for 1976 being the hottest summer was the June, which had a CET of 17C and was the second hottest on record, that is 2.9C above average, July and August were only around 1C above average unlike 1995, in which July and August were around 2C above average, had June 1995 had a CET of 15.6C as opposed to 14.3C, summer 1995 would have been the hottest on record.

http://www.metoffice.com/research/hadleyce.../HadCET_act.txt

But July 1976 had a CET of 18.7C which is 2.6C above the 1961-1990 average (16.1C) for the month. August 1976 had a CET of 17.6C which is 1.8C above the 1961-1990 average (15.8C) for the month.

Records suggest that July and August were pretty hot that year aswell:

July. Wonderfully hot (18.2), particularly notable as part of the whole summer, as high pressure dominated the British Isles. It was even hot in Scotland; Wauchope (Borders) reached 32.4C on the 2nd. Even Braemar reached 30C on the 8th. 27C (80F) was exceeded somewhere in the country every day from 22 June to 16 July. Heathrow had 14 consecutive days above 31C between 23 June and 8 July. Somewhere in the country reached the 90s (32C) for 15 consecutive days from 23 June and 7 July. The summer was quite poor in the Western Isles, however, as fronts coming around the high affected the far NW. Cheltenham reached 35.9C on the 3rd, the highest corroborated maximum. Also very sunny: there was 318 hours of sunshine at Cromer. Fronts moved east on the 9th, bringing some rain to some places, and slighly cooler weather. While there were some high minima in urban districts, clear skies led to ground frosts in the country.

August. The month continued the great summer, ending with memorable thunderstorms from the 27th on. Maxima of around 30C in the south on the 24-25th, with some places hitting 32C. Many parts of the south recorded 330 hours sunshine; 333 hours at Ilfracombe. It was very dry, with England and Wales having only 29% of the average. An air minimum of -0.6C was reported at Great Gaddesden (Herts.) on the 1st, a consequence of intense night-time radiative cooling under clear skies. It was 32C in the south on the 25th, and Teignmouth enjoyed its 45th consecutive day without rain. Then the hot, sunny weather started to break down on the 26th - just in time for the Bank Holiday - as the high pressure system that had been responsible for the wonderful weather retreated towards Iceland, bringing a cooler and cloudier NE airflow across the country. For many places, the great drought ended on the 29th or 30th: in some areas there had been 45 consecutive days without rain. The wet autumn made up for it. There were some severe storms on Saturday 29th and Monday 30th in the south, with flooding in East Anglia. For example, there were 76 mm of rain at Spalding on the 30th, which was a good start to ending the drought. With a CET of 17.6C, it was a hot month.

http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~taharley/1976_weather.htm

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Sorry, was looking at the wrong year, you are right, July and August were on average 1.8C above the 1971-2000 average although my point was that July and August 1995 blitzed 1976 because July and August were on average 2.6C above average.

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The key reason for 1976 being the hottest summer was the June, which had a CET of 17C and was the second hottest on record, that is 2.9C above average

June 1976 was the 5th warmest June on record, the Junes of 1846, 1676, 1826 and 1822 were warmer.

June and July 1976 was the warmest such combination on record.

There's an error on Trevor's site. He has July 1976 as 18.2 but infact it was 18.7 and was joint 3rd warmest on record.

So infact, 1976 had a warmer June and July than the June and July of 1995

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So infact, 1976 had a warmer June and July than the June and July of 1995

Memory can play funny tricks, but I vividly remember both summers, and 1976 felt far far more sunny and hot. It was the most astonishing summer in my 42 years, and my father at over 70 says the same for his life. We may never see its like again. So many amazing memories - Bjorn Borg playing on scorched brown Wimbledon turf being just one. It was an incredible summer.

Mr Data - you and I don't always see eye to eye, coming as we do perhaps from slightly different points of the compass, but I just want to say a big thank you for posting up this thread and others like it. A trip down memory lane like this is just grand. It was such an amazing, amazing, summer ...

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It is going to depend on where you live- over much of England and Wales, 1976 was by far the hottest summer on record, and in many areas the sunniest. Over Scotland and Northern Ireland, though, 1995 was every bit as hot as, and sunnier than, 1976.

Thunderstorms were also different- 1976 was generally thunder-free, whereas Summer 1995 contained quite a thundery July in many areas.

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Feel sorry for my mum ,cant say id like to be in labour in temps in the 30s..yuk...i was born on the 26th aug :D

how great to have a thread to remind me im approching 30.

Thanks :D

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I'd really love to see a summer like '76- even if just for the amount of sunshine. I'm sure after weeks of very high temperatures I'd get pretty sick of it. I think my house will be a summer hot house (we moved in in Sept so our first summer here) as that 1-2 warm/hot spell last week left this place roasting!

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I was only nearly a one year old in the summer 1976, so my first recollection of a hot summer was 1983. July 1983 had a whopping CET of 19.5C the hottest of the century, certainly remembered many visits to the beach at weekends and in the school holidays that summer. The next five summers were pretty abissmal though.

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June 1976 was the 5th warmest June on record, the Junes of 1846, 1676, 1826 and 1822 were warmer.

June and July 1976 was the warmest such combination on record.

There's an error on Trevor's site. He has July 1976 as 18.2 but infact it was 18.7 and was joint 3rd warmest on record.

So infact, 1976 had a warmer June and July than the June and July of 1995

Using the Hadley Centre page which has July 1976 as 18.7, I make the average for July/Aug 18.15 compared with 18.90 for 1995. So the latter clearly had the hottest Jul/Aug combination. I remember reading a post the last time (or maybe the time before that) that this topic came up, which said that 1995 had the warmest Jul-Oct and Aug-Oct periods as well, despite the nondescript September.

As has been said, it was that bad start to June 1995 which put 1976 in front- when I look at the figures, and remember how hot the last week was, I realise it was if anything even worse than I remember it. Even with that late heatwave the month only comes out 0.2C warmer than the vile June 1997, and substantially cooler than the even viler July 1988.

Using the "extended summer", I get:

1976 April-Oct 13.93; May-Oct 14.90

1995 April-Oct 14.20; May-Oct 15.05

but 1976 May-Sep 15.82; 1995 15.48.

You need to include 1995's fabulous October to wipe out the effect of the bad start to June altogether.

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I was only nearly a one year old in the summer 1976, so my first recollection of a hot summer was 1983. July 1983 had a whopping CET of 19.5C the hottest of the century, certainly remembered many visits to the beach at weekends and in the school holidays that summer. The next five summers were pretty abissmal though.

Summer 1984 wasn't that bad here, here are the averages for Birmingham for summer 1984 (from weather online)

June: 14.6

July: 16.8

August: 17.6

There were 24 days with a max of 25ÂșC or above during that summer, the 4 summers were followed were really abysmal, especially August 1986 & July 1988.

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Using the "extended summer", I get:

1976 April-Oct 13.93; May-Oct 14.90

1995 April-Oct 14.20; May-Oct 15.05

but 1976 May-Sep 15.82; 1995 15.48.

You need to include 1995's fabulous October to wipe out the effect of the bad start to June altogether.

There's no such thing as an extended summer in metereology. Summer is June, July, August metereologically. The CET's are thus as follows:

Summer 1976: 17.67

Summer 1995: 17.37

So '76 wins it comfortably.

For what it's worth, it was the fact that it began so early, at a time when the days are longest that exacerbated it's potency in the minds of us all who remember it. It seemed like day after day of relentless heat. In terms of records it outstrips 1995, worthy though the latter was, and without sounding too much like an old fogey I'm really not sure we'll see the like of it again in our lifetimes. It was, simply, extraordinary.

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Mr Data - you and I don't always see eye to eye, coming as we do perhaps from slightly different points of the compass, but I just want to say a big thank you for posting up this thread and others like it. A trip down memory lane like this is just grand. It was such an amazing, amazing, summer ...

Mr Data: just to say that your posts are an invaluable part of this site: many thanks!

Regards

ACB

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This year is going to be a dry one too, so the Met Office have said. Especially after a dry winter, the summer looks to be even drier.

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This year is going to be a dry one too, so the Met Office have said. Especially after a dry winter, the summer looks to be even drier.

I think this summer could potentially be a hot one looking at the models at the moment. It would take an awful lot though for not just this summer, but any summer, to equal the record of 1976. The way I see it, sooner or later a summer like '76 is likely to happen again at some point and some of our recent summer's, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005, have come quite close, 2003 being the most exceptional of all the above mentioned summer's for it's recording breaking heat in August that year!

This summer does have a certain 1995 feel about it at the moment and it will be interesting to see what June has to offer. But I also feel this summer could still go either way and nothing is set in stone pattern wise just yet. We need to see that azores high having more of an influence in June to convince me of a scorching summer this year.

So far this year, certainly throughout spring so far, the azores high has been perhaps more reluctant than usual to make an appearance.

To summerise, at the moment I would say this summer is more likely to go down the route of the summer of '95, meaning we will get one hot and dry month, most likely to be in July or August. I just don't see a re-run of '76 this summer for some reason just yet. I hope I'm wrong though.

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I think I'm just about the only resident of the UK who would probably get bored after three months of near-constant dry sunny weather. (although there are some others who would have problems with associated heat in the SE).

1976 was a memorable summer for those who were around to experience it- but where was the variety? I would have a 1995/1996/2003 over a 1976 any day, because at least those summers had more variety.

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I think this summer could potentially be a hot one looking at the models at the moment. It would take an awful lot though for not just this summer, but any summer, to equal the record of 1976. The way I see it, sooner or later a summer like '76 is likely to happen again at some point and some of our recent summer's, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005, have come quite close, 2003 being the most exceptional of all the above mentioned summer's for it's recording breaking heat in August that year!

.

Hi Steve

Summer 1995 was the closest to being another summer 1976 for England and Wales. Infact it was overall drier than summer 1976.

I'm baffled why you say summer 1996 and 2005 came quite close to summer 1976. They are a little way down the list, Steve. I would have put summers 1983 and 1984 as being summers closer to 1976 than summers 1996 and 2005.

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Hi Steve

Summer 1995 was the closest to being another summer 1976 for England and Wales. Infact it was overall drier than summer 1976.

I'm baffled why you say summer 1996 and 2005 came quite close to summer 1976. They are a little way down the list, Steve. I would have put summers 1983 and 1984 as being summers closer to 1976 than summers 1996 and 2005.

Yes I forgot about the summer of 1983. Was this the summer which had the scorching July?

The summer's of 1996 (as I vaguelly remember it, lol) and 2005 were hot but very wet at times, particularly in 1996. In terms of being very dry and hot, the summer's of 1983, 1995 and 2003 I suspect would come out on top in comparison to 1976.

Wasn't the summer of 1995 quite mixed to start with? June 1995 I recall started off quite chilly and unsettled with low pressure. When did the heatwave in 1995 actually start?

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Yes I forgot about the summer of 1983. Was this the summer which had the scorching July?

The summer's of 1996 (as I vaguelly remember it, lol) and 2005 were hot but very wet at times, particularly in 1996. In terms of being very dry and hot, the summer's of 1983, 1995 and 2003 I suspect would come out on top in comparison to 1976.

Wasn't the summer of 1995 quite mixed to start with? June 1995 I recall started off quite chilly and unsettled with low pressure. When did the heatwave in 1995 actually start?

Summers 1996 and 2005 had their moments but not one of the summer months recorded a CET of 17C or greater. Summer 1983 had the warmest month ever recorded namely July with a CET of 19.5C

The heat of summer 1995 kicked off during the last third of June 1995. Maxima got into the 30s.

Another good summer was 1989, that would have come ahead of 1996 and 2005.

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1976 certainly sounds like quite a summer, and 1995 must come second behind that. As to what West about there never being another 1976, well that may be the case in terms of overall summer, but I'd be willing to bet in terms of CEt there will be a summer in the next 100 years that will beat the overall summer CET simply because of GW making it easier to reach those sorts of high CET's.

Also, I think quite soon we will see a month that has a CET of 20c, if we could have a slightly extended heatwave like that from 2003 then it'd be possible for sure.

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