The night London slept out in the heatwave

Sleeping in heatwaves is never a great prospect even in an age where fans and air conditioning units are becoming more and more common.

In 1948, however, residents of Kensington and other areas of London were so hot and desperate to escape oven-like houses caused by temperatures well into the 90s that they decamped en masse into the streets and local parks to get some kip.

A report published in the Aberdeen Journal on Friday 30th July describes how folk down south were coping with the heat.

“The metropolis last night was like a large restless household—with all the lights ablaze, doors and windows thrown open, the family fretful, and endless pots of tea brewing far into this morning.

aspro heatwave ad Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 13 August 1947“Perhaps one in ten among the 8,000,000 of us slept after midnight. For the rest, we tossed and turned and saw out this heatwave night, when temperatures were never below 71 degrees, a variety of ways. About midnight I walked past the gaunt old Edwardian mansions in Kensington. With the exception the lights that burned from every window, the scene was reminiscent of the early days of the Blitz.

“Families trekked across the roadway in varying stages of undress to their little bits of ornamental gardens. With them went camp beds, bed linen, umbrellas, “in case,” the children, and the household pets, choose a cool open-air camping spot and feel wonderfully adventurous and spartan in the process.”

“At regular intervals the adolescent members of the squatting colonies were dispatched to the tea and coffee stalls on the corner, and perhaps for the first time in years these traders ran out of stocks. On the Kensington-Chelsea boundary, where life becomes noticeably less inhibited and on occasions less swish, a mixed group of young artists was sleeping on the pavement off Fulham Road.

“Round the next corner, where many theatrical and film stars live, several had slung hammocks on their meagre front lawns – one actually suspended between the bathroom windows of two adjacent houses. Midnight street wear for both sexes was cool if unconventional —silk pyjamas, bath robes, tennis shorts, and one in kilt and bathing costume top who could have gone straight into the arena at Lonach.”

The temperature at Westminster that night never fell below 23.3C (73.9 F), a record for July that still stands.

The column goes on to describe the situation in the House of Commons where the heat had reached “almost Turkish bath intensity”.

“Some members were in natty tussore silk suitings, but this helped little, and it was many of their number who appealed to the Speaker to have more windows opened. The Speaker, panting like the rest of us, said they were all open. If they wanted more cool breezes from the Thames, members would have to smash the windows.”

This hot spell and others features in my Premier League of Heatwaves.

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June 2019: record heat spike

June 2019 saw no high temperature records broken but a jump in anomaly, produced on the 29th by the 3rd hottest June day back to 1959, is higher than any I can find back to that year..

The only phenomena similar that I can find, albeit in the other direction, is the Beast from the East in March 2018 that sent temperatures plummeting.

The month finished a little above average though the final figure, like May and April, masked cool warm spells.

The mean temperature finished 16.9C that’s 0.8C above average, the coolest for 3 years.

Rainfall was 63mm, 123% of average, the wettest for 2 years. Sunshine was 158 hours, 88.7% of average, and dullest for 3 years.

A timelapse of the longest day can be found here.

To view full stats follow this link:http://1drv.ms/1kiTuzv

june 2019
‘Feels like’ maxima.
12.1
June 1981-2019 maximum anomalies
june anoms

 

The 12 month rolling rainfall total, thanks to a wetter than average month, has moved above 500mm again.

Summary for June 2019

Temperature (°C):
Mean (1 minute)  16.8
Mean (min+max)   16.9
Mean Minimum     12.1
Mean Maximum     21.7
Minimum          7.1 day 08
Maximum          33.6 day 29
Highest Minimum  18.0 day 24
Lowest Maximum   14.4 day 10
Air frosts       0
Rainfall (mm):
Total for month  63.3
Wettest day      18.7 day 10
High rain rate   20.1 day 09
Rain days        13
Dry days         17
Wind (mph):
Highest Gust     24.4 day 08
Average Speed    2.7
Wind Run         1932.6 miles
Gale days        0
Pressure (mb):
Maximum          1031.5 day 27
Minimum          998.4 day 07
Days with snow falling         0
Days with snow lying at 0900   0
Total hours of sunshine        0.0