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August 2003 Heatwave


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Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    Most of us will remember the exceptional heatwave of early August 2003, which brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of Britain. Some may also recall that France, in particular, was even more heavily affected, with an estimated 15,000 deaths resulting from the heat there.

    http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/2003/...00220030731.png

    http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/2003/...00220030801.png

    On the 31st July and 1st August 2003, a mass of hot air developed over southern Spain, seeping up from the north African continental interior, giving temperatures in excess of 40C, about 5-10C above the local average. Contributory factors to this Spanish heatwaves probably included an unusually northward location of the monsoon/ITCZ, anomalously high global temperatures, and surface synoptics. For France and Britain, as yet, no sign of anything unusual.

    http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/2003/...00220030802.png

    On the 2nd August, western Spain and France picked up a southerly flow, sending this exceptional heat over southern Spain northwards towards France. Again, temperatures over Britain were unremarkable, and although France heated up somewhat, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

    http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/2003/...00220030804.png

    On the 3rd, 4th and 5th a very sluggish southerly flow brought an airmass originating in the northern African interior into the heart of France, establishing maxima of 35-40C across the country.

    http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/2003/...00220030808.png

    The main high extended into most of Europe, causing this exceptionally hot air to establish over France, and some of it to extend into neighbouring parts of Europe.

    http://www.wetterzentrale.de/archive/2003/...00220030810.png

    On the 10th August 2003, a sluggish southerly flow caused the stagnant hot airmass over France to penetrate into south-east England, causing 100 Fahrenheit to be authentically reached for the first time on record.

    For the record, this heatwave coincided with the second week of my holiday in France that year. I remember enjoying two warm sunny days on 31 July and 1 August, blissfully unaware of what was coming next. Then on the 2nd I found it a bit too hot during the afternoon, but thinking it was just a normal French heatwave- then I saw the forecast for the 3rd, and to my shock, saw maxima of 37C all over the chart.

    I remember spending most of the time indoors, and keeping the windows shut (because if you opened a window, warm air came flooding in). It was impossible to go outside for more than 10 minutes without feeling ill. The holiday, scheduled to end on the 10th, was cut a couple of days short- though this did mean that I didn't miss the Tyneside thunderstorm that occurred on the 10th itself.

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)

    Thankfully the SE of England was let off lightly during Summer 2003 compared to parts of mainland Europe. Parts of Central and Southern Europe seeing the heat set in during June and lasting until mid-August - with maxima reaching 35-40C somewhere each day during July and early August. Switzerland saw 41.5C reached on the 11 th August, a day after the record was broken in the UK with 38.1C. This heat had a detrimental effect it seems on the alpine areas - with glaciers decreasing by 10% in 2003. Also, crop yields in Central and Southern Europe were greatly affected. Not to mention the many the death toll in places such as France.

    A good article by UNEP on the Impact of Summer 2003 Heatwave in Europe can be seen here:

    http://www.grid.unep.ch/product/publicatio...eat_wave.en.pdf

    Can't say want to see heat like that again for a long time. Though, I remember some high temperatures in the mid 30s in early August 1990 and also on holiday in South Central France a few times nudging the high 30s. Luckily in 2003 there were only a few days of extreme heat on the 9th and 10th of August in Essex, before it cooled down from the West on the 11th courtesy of a cold front and some thunderstorms.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cleeve, North Somerset
  • Weather Preferences: Continental winters & summers.
  • Location: Cleeve, North Somerset
    Posted · Hidden by MP-R, February 14, 2012 - Wrong heatwave.
    Hidden by MP-R, February 14, 2012 - Wrong heatwave.

    I was still on holiday in Spain until the 4th, where the temperature was pushing 48C. I remember the weather turning rather naff at the end of July so it was just as well I took a holidy.

    I arrived back in Bristol on the afternoon of the 4th and the temperature was 31C (very much to my surprise). I remember sleeping that night and waking up at 04.30 on the 5th listening to thunder rumbling around my house. Having fallen back to sleep, I woke up the next morning to clear skies and at 09.00 the temperature was already 22C.

    Thursday 5th - Sunny, hot and humid after overnight thunder 33.4C (high)

    Friday 6th - Sunny, hot and incredibly humid 34.2C (high)

    Saturday 7th - Sunny, very hot and very humid, not one cloud all day 36.1C (high)

    Sunday 8th - THE HOT ONE!!! 24.5C AT 09.00. Hot and sunny but lots of alt-cu-cas later on. 37.0C (high)

    It then began to cool down to 28C on the 11th, which would usually feel quite hot but actually felt cool compared to the 37C the day before.

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    Posted
  • Location: Shrewsbury
  • Location: Shrewsbury

    It was a heatwave here- yes a lot hotter than average but didn't beat August 1990 for temperature or August 1995 for sunshine.

    I'd just returned from 6 weeks in New Zealand where of course it was midwinter, and some places had had their first snow for 20-30 years in July.

    Here's how I remember that week going:

    Mon 4th: A hot sunny day, maxed at about 28C before at about 7pm a dirty grey but high mass of cloud spread in from the west, totally unforecast. It covered the whole sky in 2 hours and prevented the temperature dropping much below 20C overcast.

    Tue 5th: Despite forecasters merrily saying it would be 32-35C and clear, the high clag was still there and even produced a few spots of rain. I looked at the satellite pic and it covered all of the western Midlands and Wales and most of the southwest. No fronts were to be seen on the chart and the wind was southeast when this muck had come from the southwest- it was far higher than normal stratiform muck and I still suspect it had something to do with the forest fires in Portugal at the time. Of course it held back the temperature which only reached 25C. Airports under this muck were all reporting CAVOK as it was above 5000' so don't believe any "clear" reports you see.

    Wed 6th: Muck cleared during the day but only gradually- still didn't get much above 25C.

    Thurs 7th and Fri 8th. Although it was by now sunny, it became very breezy (Cheshire Gap sea breeze I believe) and this yet again held back the temperature to the mid-20s when the forecasts were still going for low 30s.

    Sat 9th: The hot one- breeze subsided and it got into the 30s, but fell some way short of August 1990 and only just about equalled several days in 1995.

    Sun 10th- Massive disappointment, cloud spread in from the west in the morning yet produced no rain or thunder, while the north had storms and the far SE got into the high 30s.

    The rest of the month was pleasantly warm but often cloudy with it- not a patch on August 1990, summer 1995 or even the often-forgottten July 1999.

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    Posted
  • Location: Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire
  • Location: Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire

    August 2003 wasnt a patch on the 1990 or 1995 hot spells here either. Temperatures were rather unimpressive:

    1st - 24°C

    2nd - 22°C

    3rd - 26°C

    4th - 28°C

    5th - 28°C

    6th - 32°C

    7th - 24°C

    8th - 25°C

    9th - 30°C

    10th - 29°C

    11th - 22°C

    I think August 2003 will be remembered only for breaking 100°F, although it was hot everywhere, it wasnt really exceptional anywhere but in the south. However, it was still rather uncomfortable for me, I managed to get heatstroke on the 9th due to being out in the sunshine for 9 hours solid, then spent the 10th in bed all day with a room temperature approaching 40°C! Fortunately I have an air conditioner now. :(

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    I recall that in Scotland, some records tumbled, with 32.9C recorded somewhere, although Ireland apparently didn't establish any records.

    In neither Cleadon (highest temp recorded 26C, as opposed to 29C in the Augusts of 1995 and '96, and 33C at nearby Sunderland in August 1990) or Lancaster (highest temp 30C, record 32.1C in August 1990) were any records threatened. As Summer of 95 said, after the 10th it was generally warm and dry but often cloudy; I think the sunshine excesses resulted almost entirely from the period 1-9 August.

    I think I remember the heatwave and flagged it up because I was in France at the time, where the heat was quite something else. That was the story of most of summer 2003- it was the continental interior that was heaviest hit, with Britain often affected by warm changeable south-westerlies.

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    Posted
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
  • Location: Caterham-on-the-hill, Surrey, 190m asl (home), Heathrow (work)
    I recall that in Scotland, some records tumbled, with 32.9C recorded somewhere, although Ireland apparently didn't establish any records.

    Yes, Greycrook (Scottish borders) recorded 32.9 °C on 9 August 2003 - Scotland's highest temperature.

    The Welsh temperature record of 35.2 °C at Hawarden Bridge (Clwyd) on 2 August 1990 didn't tumble however in 2003. The max was 33.0 °C on 5 August 2003 at Valley.

    The highest Northern Ireland temperature recorded was 30.8 °C at Knockarevan (near Belleek, Co. Fermanagh) on 30 June 1976, and at Shaw's Bridge, Belfast (Co. Antrim) on 12 July 1983. 29.3 °C was reached on 8 August 2003 at Castlederg.

    A good MO account of the August 2003 spell can be seen on the link below, it shows the distribution of heat from 5th-10th of August, also it shows a number of stations in the SE on the 10th beating the 37.1°C record set at Cheltenham in 1990:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/int...03maxtemps.html

    Looking at the temperature records for the Epping weather station, closest to here with temp records - shows temps above 29 °C from 3rd-13th with maxes of >35 °C on the 6th, 9th culminating with 37.9 °C on the 10th. Some warm night minima - though not as warm as I would expect with such heat around during the day with 17.4°C the morning after the 10th. I'm sure there was night time minima of 20 °C+ in the past.

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gesc_b/Epping.../August2003.htm

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    Posted
  • Location: Exeter, Devon, England
  • Location: Exeter, Devon, England

    Here are the maxima I recorded from the 6th- 11th August 2003; my station at the time tended to underestimate the max by around 0.5C - 1C due to a very slow lag-time but in general the maxima were close to that of nearby Wattisham in Suffolk.

    6th: 33.0C

    7th: 29.7C

    8th: 29.3C

    9th: 33.2C

    10th: 34.6C

    11th: 31.8C

    The 6th, 9th and 10th are the 3 hottest days I've ever recorded (with records only going back to July 2000)- and on the 10th it passed 30C at around 10.30am! :(

    Edited by Dave J
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    Posted
  • Location: Shrewsbury
  • Location: Shrewsbury
    Yes, Greycrook (Scottish borders) recorded 32.9 °C on 9 August 2003 - Scotland's highest temperature.

    The Welsh temperature record of 35.2 °C at Hawarden Bridge (Clwyd) on 2 August 1990 didn't tumble however in 2003. The max was 33.0 °C on 5 August 2003 at Valley.

    Oh yes I forgot that hot day on Anglesey, when it was 6-7C warmer than inland sites in the Midlands. The 5th was the Tuesday so it obviously escaped the grey murk- or maybe not, I've just looked at Wunderground and Valley reported rain at 2.50pm with FEW 035 BKN 140 (ie 1-3 oktas at 3500' and 5-7 at 14000' (the grey murk presumably) with a temp 29 and dewpoint 19- the 33 was at 12.50 with CAVOK but I suspect the muck was still there- the BKN 140 did not need to be reported until the rain and FEW 035 came along. Birmingham (where the max was only 28) had a similar FEW 045 BKN 150 report at 1250 while 1220 and 1320 were both CAVOK.

    33C at about as coastal a site as you can get under virtually overcast skies? Well bizarre.

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    Posted
  • Location: Liphook
  • Location: Liphook

    I remember being in Spain upto the 3rd, got to a high of 45C where I was on the 3rd.

    Intrestingly it wasn't just the 10th that was a very hot day indeed in the south and had it not been for the 10th, the 6th would currently stand as the hottest day ever, with even Glasgow reaching 28C, London reached 35C.

    I personally could not believe the forecast when I got back from Spain on the 4th, though that day was 31C on its own in my area, which I couldn't believe. The forecast then showed a 40? in a questionmark for the 6th. I couldn't believe that, i really couldn't!

    The 5th also saw 31C here and the papaers were filled with stuff about the heatwave. The the 6th arrived and though we didn't get the 40C then but I recorded 34C, which would only be beaten by the amazing heat on the 10th, when I got 36C, simply quite stunning temps, and the closest I've come since was 32C.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Sunshine, convective precipitation, snow, thunderstorms, "episodic" months.
  • Location: Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    As for the temperatures I experienced during my French holiday, the figures, extrapolating from nearby stations, would appear to have been as follows:

    July

    31st: 24C

    August

    1st: 28C

    2nd: 31C

    3rd: 35C

    4th: 37C

    5th: 39C

    6th: 40C

    7th: 36C

    8th: 37C

    Fairly consistent with my experience of the heat starting to get uncomfortable on the 2nd, but not getting really unbearable until the 3rd.

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    • 5 years later...
    Posted
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (Central)
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (Central)

    Are there any BBC weather forecasts from August 2003? Have never been able to find any.

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    Posted
  • Location: Medway - 125m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Hot summers, snowy winters and thunderstorms!
  • Location: Medway - 125m ASL

    I was actually in Greece at the time. I believe the whole of Europe was suffering from the heatwave. We remember seeing a paper from England about how it had reached record temperatures in Faversham. Even the Greeks were finding it too hot and several foreigners were fainting. We spent most of that day hidden in the shade with cool drinks. I remember me and my dad's flip flops melting and sticking to the pavement it was that hot.

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    Posted
  • Location: Portland, Dorset
  • Weather Preferences: Mixed winters and springs, thundery summers and meditteranean autumns
  • Location: Portland, Dorset

    On 10th August 2003, we were on holiday in Weymouth, which reached 32 c with virtually no wind, which is pretty impressive for a coastal location. It was so hot and stuffy, and all evening and night, that an irresistable and impromptu dip in the sea at dusk was necessary just to cool down temporarily. I missed the Birmingham storms that afternoon, which were apparently quite spectacular (especially to the north of the city).

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    Posted
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (Central)
  • Location: Home: Chingford, London (NE). Work: London (Central)

    What a scorching spell this was, which peaked on the 10th with London reaching 38c, and Kent marginally higher.

    Throughout that spell I had to sleep with 3 fans on me. It was insane. British homes are not built for that kind of heat, so it feels hotter indoors here then similar temperatures would in hot countries.

    Edited by danm
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    Posted
  • Location: Hobart, Tasmania
  • Location: Hobart, Tasmania

    I was camping at Bognor Regis on the south coast, I spent most of the day listening to BBC Radio 5 Live to see if the temperature record was going to be beat, and so it was.

    It was a lazy summer day sitting under a willow tree reading with a beer or two for me - I think a million or so people were beaching themself at the seaside.

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    Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts
  • Weather Preferences: Rain/snow, fog, gales and cold in every season
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District 290 mts. Wind speed 340 mts

    The hottest day of that spell here was the 9th with a max' of 28.5c. I thought we were in for something exceptional the next morning as the temperature was already 25.0c at 0800 g.m.t, comparable with August 3rd 1990 which had 20.6c at 0400 g.m.t and an eventual max' of 31.7c.

    It was not to be however as, by 0845 g.m.t, it became cloudy and a fresh NW breeze picked up, accompanied by a few short sharp showers, and the temp' fell by 5c and remained between 20 and 21c for the rest of the day. The maximum on the 10th was 26.3c and this was achieved by 0830 g.m.t.

    Had that cold front been delayed by about 9 hours the August 1990 record would definitely have been threatened.

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    Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne
    Posted (edited) · Hidden by knocker, February 16, 2012 - I assume no particular interest
    Hidden by knocker, February 16, 2012 - I assume no particular interest

    If it's of any interest the three articles from the special issue of the RMetS August 2004.

    The August 2003 heatwave in the United Kingdom:

    Part 1 – Maximum temperatures

    and historical precedents

    http://onlinelibrary.../wea.10.04A/pdf

    The 2003 European summer

    heatwaves and drought – synoptic

    diagnosis and impacts

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1256/wea.73.04/pdf

    Factors contributing to the summer

    2003 European heatwave

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1256/wea.74.04/pdf

    Edited by weather ship
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    Posted
  • Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Weather Preferences: Thunderstorms and heat, North Sea snow
  • Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    I was in France between the 29th July and 12 August, and the temperatures were approaching 40C. The only other time I've experienced heat like it in Europe was in Belgium in August 2009 when the temperature peaked at 38C. I've been to Florida where the heat index sometimes exceeds 50C, but to me that is more comfortable as you are never outside for very long there, unless you're in a water park of course! Oh, and at least there you have a daily thunderstorm to cool you down.

    It seems like August 2003 wasn't that special away from the SE, although the whole Summer was decent compared with the last 5!

    Edited by Alza 2
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    Posted
  • Location: Hanwell, west London
  • Location: Hanwell, west London

    I played football in 33 degrees, in the middle of the afternoon, during this spell. I was fine. Yet I've also played in temps in the low 20s, and almost died (not literally) of dehydration. I'm guessing the airmass in 03 was particularly dry?

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    Posted
  • Location: Whitkirk, Leeds 86m asl
  • Weather Preferences: Anything but mild south-westeries in winter
  • Location: Whitkirk, Leeds 86m asl

    August 2003 definitely was not that special away from the SE. It reached 31.8C here which is nothing compared to August 1990 and July 2006

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