Climate - Severe weather
Climate - Severe weather
While the UK isn't particularly noted for extreme weather, it does occur, and conditions have been known reach extreme levels on occasions. In the winter of 1982, for a few days parts of central and southern England experienced temperatures lower than central Europe and Moscow. In contrast, the summers of 1975 and 1976 experienced temperatures as high as 34 to 35 °C. It was so dry the country suffered drought and water shortages.
Extended periods of extreme weather, such as the drought of 1975-1976 and the very cold winters of 1962-1963 and 1982-1983, are often caused by blocking anti-cyclones which can persist several days or even weeks. In winter they can bring long periods of cold dry weather and in summer long periods of hot dry weather.
There have also been occurrences of severe flash floods caused by intense rainfall, the worst of which was the Lynmouth disaster of 1952 in which 34 people died and 38 houses and buildings were completely destroyed. Recently in the summer of 2004, a severe flash flood devastated the town of Boscastle in Cornwall. However, the worst floods in the United Kingdom in modern times occurred in 1953. A powerful storm from the Atlantic moved around Scotland and then down the east coast of England. As it moved south it produced a storm surge which was magnified as the North Sea became narrower the further south the storm moved. By the time the storm affected south-east England and Holland the surge had reached heights of 12 feet. Over 300 people were killed by the floods in eastern England.
Thunderstorms are most common in the south and eastern inland areas, and least common in the north and west. As a result of this, south and eastern inland areas tend to have their wettest months in the summer while western, northern and eastern coasts are most likely to have their driest month in the spring and their wettest in late autumn. In London and Birmingham, thunderstorms occur on average about 15 days a year, while in the north in west it is closer to 8 days a year.
Strong winds occur mainly in the autumn and winter months associated with low pressure systems. The "Great" storm of 1987 (23 fatalities) and the Burns' Day storm of 1990 (97 fatalities) are particularly severe examples.
Relative to its land area, the United Kingdom has more reported tornados than any other country (around 33 per year), excluding the Netherlands, although most are minor.
The most rain to fall on a single day was 279 mm at Martinstown (Dorset) on 18 July 1955.
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Page 1 - Introduction / Overview
Page 2 - Seasons
Page 3 - Regions
Page 4 - Sunshine & Clouds
Page 5 - The Atlantic Ocean
Page 6 - Winds
Page 7 - Rainfall
Page 8 - Temperature
Page 9 - Severe weather (Current page)
Page 10 - Climate history