Spring 2013 was one of the coolest and latest on record – March was even colder than during the Big Freeze of 1963 – so few people were expecting a decent summer. Yet for three weeks in July 2013 the weather gods confounded the sceptics, confirming the long-held belief that predicting summer weather from events earlier in the year is a mug’s game – rather like this year.
June 2013 saw temperatures returning more or less to normal, and on the last day of that month the mercury rose above 27C at Heathrow airport: a hint of things to come. A few days later, on 3 July, an area of high pressure established itself across the country, remaining in place for the following 20 days.
Temperatures gradually began to rise, and the week from 13 to 19 July produced readings of 28C or more across wide swathes of southern and eastern Britain, as far north as the Midlands. The hot weather peaked on 22 July, when Heathrow and Northolt recorded 33.5C – the highest anywhere in the UK for seven years.
It couldn’t last, of course. August brought the typical mix of hot, muggy weather and thunderstorms, with downpours towards the end of the month causing flash floods in Essex.