Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 13:38 UK

Heatwave history in graphics

Graph of warmest and coldest July months since 1914

By Ollie Williams
BBC News

While parts of the UK are cooking in temperatures well above average for July, there is still some distance to go before major British weather records are in any danger.

Map of hottest UK days

Temperatures above 30C (86F) are unusual, but the hottest temperature on record for the month of July is a scorching 36.5C (97.7F), recorded in Wisley, Surrey, on 19 July 2006.

That month was exceptionally warm, more so than any other month this century, and became the warmest month on record over much of the UK.

The mean maximum temperature - an average of the hottest measured temperatures for each day of the month - reached 23.2C (73.8F), a full degree warmer than the next hottest July on the list, 1983.

But Wisley's July high is still two degrees cooler than the hottest daily temperature ever recorded in the UK.

Faversham, in Kent, was the hotspot on the hottest day in British history. Temperatures there reached 38.5C (101.3F) in August 2003.

The village of Greycrook set a Scottish record of 32.9C (91.2F) in the same month, while Hawarden Bridge in Flintshire holds the record for Wales, reaching 35.2C (95.4F) in August 1990.

Northern Ireland's temperature record of 30.8C (87.4F) has been reached on two different days - once in June 1976 in Knockarevan, Co. Fermanagh, and in Belfast in July 1983.

HOTTEST YEARS
UK's five hottest years since 1914, sorted by mean temperature for the entire year:
1. 2006
2. 2007
3. 2003
4. 2004
5. 2002
1949, the ninth-warmest year, is the only pre-1990 representative in the top 10.
Source: Met Office

Prior to 2003, the previous record for the hottest day had been held by Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, with a temperature of 37.1C (98.8F) recorded in 1990.

The August 2003 heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures and balmy weather followed by thunder storms and torrential rain, after weeks of unprecedented heat throughout much of Europe.

At the time, the 2003 heat proved enough to equal 1976 as Britain's hottest summer on record.

But, judged on average daily temperature, 2006 pipped both years to the title - by one-hundredth of a degree Celsius.

Map of UK mean maximum temperatures for July, 1971-2000 average

In the July 2006 heat, a number of English locations set new temperature records.

Thermometers at London's Heathrow Airport and in Birmingham both crept up to 35C (95F), while Crosby, in Merseyside, registered 33C (91.4F).

The mean maximum temperature in Durham reached 24.2C (75.6), more than five degrees warmer than the same figure in 2007.

July 2007 was noticeably cooler than the previous year, with average temperatures down 3.5C across the UK.

The month also brought flooding to London, Berkshire, southern England and the west Midlands after intense rain on 20 July, followed by more floods along the Severn Valley and the Thames as water reached major rivers.

The summer of 2007 went on to become the second-wettest on record, but not for some time has the list of coldest July months been threatened.

In 1922, the British had to make do with a "summer" where the average temperature barely crept above 12C (53F) throughout June, July and August - despite a mini-heatwave in May.

July temperatures in the UK, 2001-2009



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