Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

UK could enjoy hottest day of year

Families enjoy the sun on Tynemouth Beach, North Tyneside

The UK may bask in the hottest day of the year so far on Wednesday.

Temperatures could reach highs of 26C or 27C, according to MeteoGroup, particularly in the south and east.

However the longer term picture is less rosy, with meteorologists suggesting the recent run of wet summers could continue for a few more years yet.

Experts who gathered at the Met Office in Exeter heard that the damp summer weather may have been caused by a 10 to 20 year pattern of warming in the Atlantic which may only have been happening since 2007.

The conditions may be responsible for shifting the jet stream to the south, leading to disappointing weather in six of the last seven summers.

Professor Rowan Sutton, of the University of Reading, said after the meeting: "There will always be a lot of variability in British weather, but recent persistent patterns - such as the series of wet summers since 2007 - are unusual. This spring was the coldest for over 50 years, 2012 was the wettest in a century and December 2010 was the coldest on record, with national records dating back to 1910.

"Research at the University of Reading suggests that recent wet summers could be caused by a major warming of the North Atlantic Ocean that occurred back in the 1990s. The North Atlantic ocean has alternated slowly between warmer and cooler conditions over the last 100 years.

"We saw a rapid switch to a warmer North Atlantic in the 1990s and we think this is increasing the chances of wet summers over the UK and hot, dry summers around the Mediterranean - a situation that is likely to persist for as long as the North Atlantic remains in a warm phase.

"A transition back to a cooler North Atlantic, favouring drier summers in the UK and northern Europe, is likely and could occur rapidly. Exactly when this will happen is difficult to predict, but we're working on it."

The sunshine struggled to break through the cloud on Tuesday, and the highest temperature recorded was 24C in Manchester - slightly below the high of the year which was 25C (77F) on June 6 in Lee-On-Solent, Hampshire. But MeteoGroup said it was possible that the mercury would go higher today.