Monday, 29 June 2009

What's the Definition of a Heatwave?

No, it's not one of those jokes.

Apparently the Met Office has issued a heatwave warning for England and Wales and the Department of Health has asked people to check on elderly friends and family. NHS staff have also been warned to prepare for a surge of elderly and ill patients suffering from the heat.

And what sort of temperatures are we expecting?

Well wait for it........In London, the temperature will rise steadily from about 29C on Sunday to about 32C by the end of the week. Yippeee!!!

What about the rest of us? Well supposedly i
n the rest of UK, temperatures will climb from about 22C to about 29C. Note my scepticism, I say supposedly because this doesn't marry up with the weather here in the North East today and the BBC weather forecast for the rest of the week.

Anyway, come on, is that really what you call a heatwave? I would say it has to get above 30C and I'm pretty positive I've never experienced that here in the North East. Maybe 28 or 29F for a day!

So what is a heatwave?

I was surprised to find that there is no accepted definition of a heatwave.

There is no universal definition of a heat wave and the term is relative to the usual weather in the area or local threshold. The definition recommended by the World Meteorological Organization is when the daily maximum temperature of more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5 °C, the normal average period being 1961 to 1990 (which corresponds to the UK baseline of thirty years). Source: UK Climate Projections
So by this definition it really only constitutes a "heatwave" in the London area. Have to ask, does that really constitute a UK heatwave?

Bill Bryson was right when he says he's bewildered by the British attitude to the weather. If you've read Notes From a Small Island you may remember how he describes our tendency to suffer from hyperbole in relation to the weather. Yes, we certainly do exaggerate the slight deviations from the weather norms. "Somebody" also assumes that if it happens in London, that's the whole of the UK.

What's the temperature today here in the North East of England? Well according to the BBC it's a high of 16C, 61F, it's grey and cloudy. Oooh I'm sweltering. Don't think so!!!!!

What's on the cards for tomorrow? Sunny intervals and a huge 18C, 66F. Whey hey!

The highest temperature this week? Wednesday more sunny intervals with a massive 19C, 68F. Oh my goodness, don't think I can cope with that heat!

Well I just can't wait for this heatwave. Better get my bathing costume out and the sun cream and dash out to buy a fan of some description to cool me down or I'll get heatstroke. I'll not go mad and get a quote for the swimming pool just yet. I'll wait for the global warming to take effect. Well they're forecasting that the water level will rise and London will be submerged. So it's lifebelts and rubber dinghies all round then?

I assume it's the best weather we're going to get this summer so I'd better make the most of it.

Post 103


  1. Hello Winifred
    I knew it was something to do with several days in a row of abnormal temps. Ours is ususally 5 days over 30c. We certainly had a heatwave this past summer with twmps over 40c lol
    Hope you get more than 15c - thats not warm at all. We are expecting that all week - winter weather lol
    Take care

  2. Last week was miserable here with some temps of 36C for about 2 days in a row. Right now, it's cool and sunny. Kind of perfect.

    I'm always amazed at the lectures given out in respect to the heat. It seems like common sense, but then I always see people who stay out in horrific heat and then wonder why they got so ill. I guess those who lack common sense need plenty of warnings that seem silly to the rest of us.

  3. I am not sure if you meant for this post to be funny but you made me laugh anyway Winifred. When you said you would have to go get your swim suit and fan and sun cream because of the heat wave. It just made me chuckle. I have always though that a heat wave was when we had temps close to 100 degrees for several days without a break and several people have died from heat exhaustion. That is my definition. I hardly think if your temps are in the 60 degrees that would be a heatwave. I know a friend of mine who lives in Arizona freezes and wears sweaters when her temps are 60 degrees. Hope you are enjoying your summer. Have a great day!

  4. How quickly our blood 'thins' & 'thickens' ... got a kick out of your writing. TTFN ~Marydon

  5. All I can say is I hop eyou don't get the kind of temperatures we are experiences at the moment...close to 100f. Not sure exactly what that is in celsius but it's HOT.
    One time I was home in July,and thought I would die.I am used to air conditioning, and temps were rising awfully hot that summer. It was miserable, although I did manage to buy a fan.
    Just get a nice Walls ice-cream with a flake of course, and don't forget the newspaper paper cone hat ;)

  6. Definition of a heatwave! Too hot to garden, to hot to go walking, too hot to sleep, to hot to sit in the sun, too hot to eat outside, even under the umbrella or Gazebo, unable to cool the house down and that is just what we are experiencing right now and it is set to get hotter.

    It may be that you are not doing the right things with your Lavender. Lots of people think you can just put them in and leave them. They do like hot weather too of course. E-mail me if yu would like more information on caring for them.

  7. I would think anything over 85 or 90 degrees here would be wickedly hot. Right now my allergies are the problem. I thought all the pollen was ended but have had a busy afternoon blowing my nose after spending a precious hour outdoors weeding. Just when I thought I was 'home free' too.

  8. I think we are having a heat wave in Arkansas right now.

  9. Winifred, I hope this is to be funny, because you made this old girl laugh. We had HOT AND HUMID weather last week, but today and the rest of the week it is to be in the 80's F. I don't know what that would be in Celsius.

    I hope you have a warm lovely summer.

  10. I wish we would have heatwaves like that, ours can go up to 42-45. Loved reading this blog entry!

  11. Dear Winifred~~ You sure are not having a heat wave over there, when our temps are much the same. Our heat waves go to 40 and one or two days wer 46C which is 114 F. That was when the bad fires were going.
    Glad you liked Geoff's advice on how to avoid the flu and the Indian Hug.
    I hope to do better next post. Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

  12. Hi Winifred,

    I love your sense of humor. We have had 70's-90's here in the last week, none of which I call a heat wave. Much rain too.

    I did, however, notice it was bright and sunny at Wimbledon today. Is that considered a heat wave??

    ~hippo hugs~

  13. Well Wimbledon is exeriencing that heatwave. They are forecast to reach 90F this week. We are not! I watched the presenters sweltering on telly in London and giving advice on how to stay cool and keep your pets out of danger.

    I'm not going to complain though, it's warm at about 68F and that's good enough for me.

  14. Well here, thank goodness, the heat is gone for a while, we had a lovely day, high was 75, nice breeze, right now at 9pm it's 69, AC is off and windows are open. Love it, just love it.

  15. LOL! Great post Winifred! It is funny how different parts of the world look at what is "out of the norm" for weather in their area...
    In different parts of Canada it is so too.
    Toronto does not get at all as much snow as we do in Winnipeg, but when they have about a 3rd of what we have in our city, it seems to shut everything down for a few days. Here, only a large snow-storm and a dumping of about a meter of snow, could shut down our city for a couple of days...We are hardy over winter here...
    As for summer heatwave, it isn't the heat that is the major problem, but the humidity that can accompany it... I don't do well in that kind of weather myself...
    Let us know if you've withered away from your heatwave! 8-)

  16. Ciao Winifred, it's my first visit here and your blog is so welcoming! :) I moved from Italy to Scotland (near Glasgow) last summer. I am still waiting for the herwave everyone is talking about. We are having temps around 18-22°C and that sure is not HOT! It's just pleasant. Plus, the sky here has been gray in the past 3 weeks. I miss the sun so much and I cannot understand my neighbors crying for rain! Oh, my! I’ve seen so much rain in 12 months here! LOL! Have a happy summer. I had a very nice visit here. :)

  17. I know it's weird but I always love reading about weather in other parts of the world. Where we live in New Mexico, it's unusual for it to get over 80F during the summer and I always feel like I'm about to have a heat stroke. Then I remind myself of all the years I spent living in Texas where ten or more days in a row it would be over 100F with 98% humidity. That's when I tell myself to 'buck up' and get on with life! Carmon


I'd love to hear from you:

A Sewing Machine Update

A little while ago I posted  Here  that I had bought a little vintage sewing machine on eBay from a hospice.  It was sewing a straight...