Regaining Our Cool


Well, it was pretty hot in Wenlock on Tuesday – 33-34C (bottom 90sF), this being the temperature given for Telford, our nearest big town. But then on Wednesday we were dropped back to 22C (72F) max and deeply gloomy skies. The breeze was back too. In fact yesterday afternoon when I took this photo, it was positively draughty walking along the Linden Walk; also very dry. You can see the wind blowing up a dust storm from the grass mower on the left.

At midday, as I write, my PC says it’s 14C (57F), and the forecast from our local weather station at RAF Shawbury indicates top temperatures of 17-24C (62-75F) for next nine days:  The main thing though, we should have some rain tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

But, one asks, where did all that 2-day heat wave go? And how did it come in the first place? The explanations I’ve read state it was a burst of hot air out of North Africa pushed across Europe by a high pressure zone, a congruence of  events caused by a change in the jet stream, that mysterious air current whose meanderings appear to be responsible for all sorts of weather anomalies.

Of course in the Northern Hemisphere, this kind of heat wave has happened quite a few times over the past century. Such weather events not only came with extreme temperatures, but were often brutally long. The 1930s were particularly bad for overheated summers. This was the Dust Bowl era on the North American Great Plains, a time when (according to this Nature paper) there were 22 heat wave days per summer in Central US, and the maximum record temperatures reached then still stood at the time of 2019 US heat wave.

In Britain in August 1930 temperatures reached 34C, building over four days but, as seems to have happened this year, the high suddenly retreated allowing cool weather to move in.

Earlier, in 1911, people in Europe and America were not let off so lightly. The New England Historical Society HERE documents graphic accounts and photographs of the 11 days of sweltering heat that hit 44C/112F in the shade, said to have driven some people mad. Meanwhile in Britain the Wikipedia entry says the heat wave built from July through to September with a top temperature of 36.7C/98F. And in France, the 70-day broiling resulted in a horrendous death toll (scroll down for the English text.)

So all in all, uncomfortable as it was for many, it seems we got off lightly with a two-day baking. But many thanks to all fellow bloggers who expressed good wishes and concern. Much appreciated.

22 thoughts on “Regaining Our Cool

  1. Lucky break for you. We are still in the heat and of and on showers that don’t amount to much. But …we take what we get. Mowers throwing out dust can be nasty.

  2. Further north than you, we reached 39. We had to go to Manchester Airport on the Tuesday too, and the motorway reached 40 from time to time. And this, apparently, is the future ..

    1. Also true of many times in our prehistoric, Roman and early medieval past. I’ve also just read an extraordinary thing about an 1540 heat wave on wikipedia – in Europe – known only from historical accounts of course. There was an 11 month drought, then terrific heat, when grapes roasted on the vine and the Rhine, Seine and Elbe simply dried to trickles:

  3. We reached 40 in London, far too hot. I was glad it was short-lived, but it seems we can’t rule out future longer heatwaves like that, possibly even more this summer.

    1. We’re definitely lucky being in a rural area. At the best of times London is such a heat trap – even more so in recent years with the monumental increase in glass and concrete.

  4. Not everywhere cooked! Thankfully in my little corner it didn’t reach more than 28 degrees which is still too much for me. I did wonder why there was so much fuss though for such a short heat wave. Next thing you know we’ll be moaning about heavy snowfalls 😁 Glad you managed to keep your cool Tish – a reminder of those African days 😆

      1. Cape Town was always around the high 20s and of course the sea breeze helped. It used to get extremely hot in the Eastern Cape though (inland) especially at Christmas time! A dry heat, but still unpleasant to be out in.

  5. Rain? What’s rain?
    Bit cooler today in Norfolk but back up to the 30’s c at the weekend. So many fires here and homes lost also a big part of the ‘Springwatch’ nature reserve.

  6. If only. We’re on the cooker for at least a few more weeks, after which — hopefully — it will break. But first and foremost, we need RAIN. Today’s forecasted rain didn’t happen and now, maybe next week. Maybe. It’s dry as dust in the woods. I burned my feet on our wooden deck. It is HOT out there!

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