Britain basks in autumn sunshine

A look at the unseasonably warm weather across the UK

    New October temperature records were set across many parts of the UK [Gallo/Getty]

    The British, on the whole, are a melancholy breed. They like to complain about anything and everything. It is a national pastime. Politicians, celebrities, their bosses, their colleagues; no one is safe from the general groaning, griping and grumbling. (As one of them, I have to hold my hands up to being as bad as everyone else.)

    The recent financial crisis, which has given many people genuine cause for complaint, has only made matters worse. If moaning was a late entry into the Olympic Games in 2012, the rest of the world might as well stay at home for that one; the Brits would take gold, silver, and bronze.

    Yet, let a little autumn sun shine down upon them and they are a nation transformed. Peace, love and a general feeling of goodwill breaks out across the Kingdom and all is well with Her Majesty’s subjects.

    So, the fact that the end of September was fine and sunny and that it extended into October, caused happiness to abound; especially as the hottest weather coincided with the weekend.

    The highest recorded temperature at the weekend was a remarkable 29.9 degrees Celsius, at Gravesend in Kent. This beat the previous October record set back in 1985. In fact, for many parts of the UK, temperatures on either Saturday or Sunday, were the highest October temperatures for at least 30 to 40 years.

    Records were set from as far north as Birmingham to the Channel Islands in the south. Southern England was warmer than the southern U.S. or the Mediterranean. Alas, sea temperatures around the coast of the British Isles fail to match those of the Mediterranean. But that did not deter thousands, if not millions, from heading for the beaches, even if the sea temperature at this time of the year is just 17 to 18 degrees along the English Channel coast.

    The cheerful mood was not replicated across all parts of the UK. Scotland had enjoyed exceptionally warm weather earlier in the week with Edinburgh, on Wednesday, reaching 24.7 degrees Celsius - almost 9 degrees above the September average. But by the weekend much of Scotland and Northern Ireland were much cooler and cloudier with outbreaks of rain.

    The reason for the mood-lifting weather was an anticyclone – an area of high pressure which tends to suppress cloud development and which, if it is sitting in the right location, can feed warm southerly winds across the UK. 

    This particular area of high pressure was what weather forecasters refer to an ‘omega block’. On a weather chart the isobars form the pattern of the Greek letter, Omega. With time warm air extends through much of the atmosphere and temperatures can increase day-on-day.

    Alas, all good things must come to an end and as the fine weather slips southwards across Europe, the UK can look forward to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia being swept across northern and western parts in a more typical autumnal weather system later in the week. Now that will certainly give them something to grumble about.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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