North-south divide as Indian summer gives way to thunderstorms here

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It’s a question that those basking in the glorious mid-September sun in one of Yorkshire’s parks or beaches today will have had plenty of time to ponder.

With temperatures soaring to a blistering high of 34.4C in Gravesend, Kent, and reaching the high 20s in parts of our region, are we seeing a trend towards increasingly warm Septembers and ever-longer Indian summers?

People enjoy the sunshine at Park Square, Leeds

People enjoy the sunshine at Park Square, Leeds

According to the Met Office, today was the hottest day of the year so far and with the highest top temperature in September since 1911. It meant the country was hotter than Bangkok in Thailand, the party island of Ibiza and the city of Marrakesh in Morocco.

The balmy conditions brought out sun-seekers across the UK, including at the Hathersage outdoor swimming pool in the Peak District, which took in some 400 people, mostly seniors, students and parents with young children despite only opening until 2pm.

Assistant manager George Foy said: “Tomorrow we will have a longer day so it will be the same again. You would expect May and June to be quite nice but September, for the last few years, has been mild and dry.

“A prime example is that the pool always closes down at the end of September but recently we were able to open until the end of October because of the mild weather we are getting.”

Northern England and southeast Scotland are currently judged the most likely area to see scattered thundery downpours but even here many places will have no more than light rain.

A Met Office forecast

According to Professor Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, the UK is generally getting warmer as a result of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this is leading to more frequent heatwaves like those seen this week.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “The rainfall story is more complex - winters are getting warmer and wetter but the jury is still out on whether our summers will be wetter or drier.

“A lot of us are enjoying today - but we need to remember that heatwaves are killers. The 2003 summer heatwave killed over 20,000 people across Europe. From heat stress and air pollution. Today’s heat wave is a one-in-50 year event. But in 20 years time every September can be expected to have days like this and hotter.

“We need to be better equipped to cope with them - improving our houses and town and cities. Removing non electric cars and trucks from our city centres and planting tree lined avenues would be a great way to start.”

Met Office figures present a mixed picture about September temperatures over the years. The mean maximum temperature over the month since the turn of the century has risen to around 17C, a full degree Centigrade higher than that seen in the 1970s and 80s.

In the last four years, the mean maximum temperature has fluctuated between 15.9C and 18.2C for the month, with the number of hours of sunshine varying between 158 and 115 over the 30 days.

The Met Office declared a Level 2 heat-health alert on Monday morning - which means there is a high chance that temperatures will hit certain temperature thresholds for at least two days and the intervening night.

The recent warm weather has been a boon for North Yorkshire-based R&R Ice Cream, whose sales shot up by 27 per cent over four weeks compared to the same period in 2015.

But according to head of marketing Charlotte Hambling, the spike wasn’t as great as if the same heatwave had occurred earlier in the summer.

She said: “For consumers in the run-up to the holidays, it is about having freezers full of ice cream. The behaviour is a bit different in September.”

After a warm and humid evening tonight, with a minimum temperature of 15C, tomorrow is set to be very warm and mostly sunny for Yorkshire, according to the Met Office.

There will be prolonged sunshine for most parts, with mist fog and low could descending later and possibly lingering near the coast. The maximum temperature will be 26C. On Thursday, it will remain very warm in Yorkshire with sunshine, isolated heavy showers possible late.

Joe Mulligan of the British Red Cross said most heat disorders occur because someone is over-exposed to heat or has over-exercised for their age and physical condition.

He said: “Simple steps such as avoiding exposure to the hottest time of the day, drinking plenty of fluids and even simply wearing a hat on hot days can all make a real difference.

“As we’re in September, the sun may not be as strong but the temperature is still high. People will be losing fluids more quickly, especially if they’re exercising outside, so it’s important to keep hydrated.

“If someone does become dehydrated give them plenty of fluids to drink. Water is good, but coconut water, milk and even tea will do the trick.”

Forecast for this evening and tonight:

Any heavy showers and locally torrential, thundery downpours will gradually ease and clear north overnight. This will leave a mainly dry but warm and muggy night. Some mist, fog and low cloud will form in places, especially near the coast. Minimum Temperature 15 °C.

Forecast for Wednesday:

Another very warm and humid day with prolonged sunshine for most parts. Overnight, mist, fog and low cloud will clear many areas but may linger near the coast. Maximum Temperature 26 °C.

Outlook for Thursday to Saturday:

Thursday, still very warm with sunshine, isolated heavy showers possible later. Friday, fresher and breezier as overnight heavy, showery rain clears. Mainly dry thereafter with sunny spells, feeling cooler.